The Innovation Plan
To help Toronto’s waterfront achieve its goals for a mixed-income community that builds on the city’s diversity, and to demonstrate a path forward for affordability and economic opportunity in high-demand cities, Sidewalk Labs proposes a comprehensive three-part strategy for construction, building, and housing innovation.
First, Sidewalk Labs proposes construction innovations that would accelerate project timelines while reducing costs and uncertainties, helping developers look beyond condo towers. This plan centres on a new factory-based construction approach, enabled by an emerging building material called “mass timber,” which is easier to manufacture and better for the environment than concrete or steel, yet just as strong and fire-resistant. Digital building information modelling tools could support this factory approach by coordinating projects across the supply chain.
Second, Sidewalk Labs proposes building design innovations that could accommodate the full range of live-work needs and respond nimbly as those needs change. These include adaptable “Loft” spaces — supported by flexible interior panels and a real-time code-monitoring system — designed to cut renovation times and help communities retain a lively mix of businesses and residents. For homes in particular, efficient units and co-living spaces could improve affordability while expanding options for all types of households.
Finally, Sidewalk Labs’ proposed housing innovations aim to realize an ambitious affordability program wherein 40 percent of units are below market rate, with half of the program’s total units consisting of purpose-built rentals to improve long-term affordability. To achieve this program, Sidewalk Labs proposes to implement new tools that could help the private sector support below-market rental housing while still earning returns, including through leveraging the value created by factory-based construction.