How do you commemorate the heritage of a complex, evolving neighbourhood that is still in the throes of change? How do you interpret the vibrancy of a neighbourhood while considering the significance of its buildings, most of which no longer exist? ERA Architects is addressing these questions through the establishment of a Commemoration Strategy for Regent Park. We are collaborating with Swerhun Facilitation, Toronto Community Housing, and (most importantly) past and current residents of Regent Park to develop recommendations for safeguarding and promoting the community’s heritage.
Regent Park plans showing site evolution.
At our first public meeting on July 23, 2015, we introduced the idea of a commemoration plan and asked the community two key questions: What stories would you tell about Regent Park? And how should those stories be told? ERA offered examples of types of stories that could be told, including such ideas as individual and family stories to neighbourhood evolution stories. Following the first meeting, ERA collected examples of residents’ stories through a postcard campaign, interviews, and a website.
A postcard from the postcard campaign.
The second public meeting, which took place on October 27, 2015, began with ERA presenting four story themes based on the collected stories. Afterwards participants offered feedback and focused on how to tell these stories, discussing what storytelling methods seemed most fitting. This session considered the many different forms that commemoration can take within a community, ranging from signage and art installations, to urban design and artefact display, to public programs and neighbourhood museums.
Examples of existing commemorative projects.
The evening was a great success, with excellent ideas offered, like creating a platform for oral histories, fabricating 3D models, and designing an interactive map. Now ERA will compile these robust suggestions and come up with more fully developed commemoration options for the third community meeting to be held on November 24th, where participants will be able to collaboratively choose their favourite examples.
Participants gathered to discuss commemoration strategies.
If you’re interested in sharing your own stories about Regent Park, visit here.