‘The Orbit’: A Futuristic City in the making
This small Canadian town has taken another progressive step by endorsing a futuristic master plan for an entirely new community
Toronto is known for being one of the most ethnically diverse metropolises of the World. The availability of the right pool of talent, diversity, education and the tech-friendly environment has also transformed the city into one of the fastest-growing tech job markets in North America. This has given rise to growing innovation in the Great White North, which is now spilling over into smaller communities like Innisfil.
Back in March, I wrote a piece on how a small town of Innisfil was standing out by taking some progressive urban initiatives enabled by technology. The town struck a deal with the global ride-hailing giant Uber in 2017 to provide an alternative local public transit through publicly-subsidized fares. Not only did this prove popular among residents, but it also saved the town $8 million — which an equivalent door-to-door bus service would have cost.
On top of this, Innisfil also announced in Mar. 2019, that it would be accepting digital currencies for property taxes starting from Bitcoin. The one-year pilot is a result between the town and a Toronto-based digital assets platform Coinberry Pay.
In one of the boldest moves yet, this small community of 36,600 people just 60 km north of Toronto, is attempting to become a futuristic city dubbed as the ‘The Orbit’. A collection of sleepy villages, cottages, and rural farmland will transform into a vibrant city if the plan is tested, implemented & successful. The design of the new city is centered around the Innisfil GO train station — part of the expansion of the regional transit network.
As explained by Urban Toronto, the futuristic master plan envisions a new community of 150,000 designed to accommodate 40 million square feet of built space. The Orbit would is proposing a far reaching scope — a transit-oriented mixed-use community with all the amenities of the modern city.
“A fast, secure fibre-optic network woven throughout the community’s sidewalks, streets, buildings and more, designed to support innovation from local community members and entrepreneurs, while being governed by the appropriate privacy protection policies”. ~ Master Plan
The plan which is a collaborative effort between the town planners & PARTISANS — an award-winning Toronto-based architecture studio, targets the tech industry as the main driver for the local economy and also intends to implement smart city initiatives. Considering the rapid transit connectivity with the major tech hub of North America, The Orbit could provide an urban living alternative to manage the explosive growth around GTA (Greater Toronto Area).
PARTISANS have also proposed implementing a novel idea of dynamic zoning with hybrid massing and building typologies throughout the neighborhood to manage future growth. It basically suggests to automatically up-zone an area as and when specific developmental conditions are met. The process repeats itself until the maximum limit on heights and densities proposed by the local authorities is reached.
Although the plan is both aspirational & inspirational at the same time of how a futuristic urban community could look like, it does not go into implementation details beyond Phase 1. A lot is contingent upon the completion of the transit station which is scheduled to be completed between 2022–25.
More ambitious projects like NEOM in the desert sands of Saudi Arabia are currently in the design & planning phase.