6Place Toronto

is a McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology research/working group project investigating significant urban spaces in Toronto where Media and Infrastructure intersect with Architecture and Public Space. From the Portlands to South Etobicoke, these are contested, iconic, dormant places, currently subject to major speculation and diverse visions for the city of the  future. This project investigates urban history, networks, image, building stock, landscape, infrastructure, data and meta-data. Engaging faculty and students in Architecture, Urbanism, Information, Art History, Politics, Anthropology, Media and the Visual Arts, 6PTo’s methods of documentation and dissemination include mapping, lens- and drone-based imaging, drawing, stratography, archival and media research, walks, talks, workshops and seminars. Each of the six investigations is a pilot for an interdisciplinary, layered urbanism and civic broadcast, ultimately testing the potential of Public Space in the North American Metropolis.  6PTo is also supported by U of T’s School of Cities and by the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design.


1/6 Portlands/Monument
2/6 Water/Data
3/6 Work/Inventory
4/6 Creek/Fort/Burial
5/6 Islands/Bubbles
6/6 Landfill/Publics

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About 6Place Toronto

a U of T project on media, Infastructure, Architecture & Public Space

This working group and research project seeks to explore, document and broadcast six different conditions where media and infrastructure intersect with urban and post-urban space in Toronto. It investigates the layered and latent existence of public space in the city –as medium, practice, network, artifact and material space– and with this the possibility of reclaiming it.

The project operates on three premises:

First:  that today no city can be built ex nihilo, but always on deep material, cultural, technological strata.  These strata contain the fragments of civic form, rifts, traces of historical and catastrophic events, networks of urban transformation, infrastructural interventions and foundational acts of violence embedded as information.  They form vectors in the urban landscape, tolerances in urban networks and tendencies in public space, influencing how a city changes and how it communicates with itself and externally.  Such information may be accessed, visualized, analyzed.

Second:  that this way the city is deeply intelligent and broadly intelligible in its ecologies, ground, urban form and atmosphere, while appearing to be inert, broken down and resisting change;  and that such urban intelligence and media exist before and beyond the short frame and multiple optimizations of the smart city.

Third:  that access, visualization and analysis of these attributes and data –in buildings, infrastructure, networks, communications and public space– are acts of mediation and urbanism engaged by architecture, art and media studies.


6 Place Toronto brings together a multidisciplinary team of scholars working in related fields in order to develop a dialogue between media studies, infrastructure studies and urban studies, to explore a series of field research locations and operations, and to follow an interdisciplinary methodology for media and urbanism. It focuses on 6 ‘loaded,’ significant spaces in Toronto –between the infrastructural and the civic, landscape and object, pathway and node, common and public– all either existing or potential public spaces.

The first Stage of the project is a common survey of these 6 spaces.  They provide points of entry to discussions about media, communications and the city. The networks among them –routes, tracks, land formations– are explored.  The intention is to locate and describe spaces of intensity, power and transfer, urban eco-tones or points of discontinuity, where intense cross-talking between systems, demographics and ecologies has occurred and/or may occur again. These spaces often include evidence of catastrophic –violent, irreversible– change.  They are iconic and/or invisible.  After multiple investigations, the working group narrowed its sites down to the Hearn Power Generating Station and its surrounding Portlands areas, the R.C.Harris Water Treatment Plant, the industrial area SE of Kipling & Bloor Avenues in Etobicoke, Garrison Creek, Ontario Place, and the Tommy Thompson Park/Landfill.

In the above sites public space may be defined through zones of conflict, exclusion, exchange and negotiation including trade networks, civic forms, legal frameworks and infrastructural layers.  Cities are founded on irreversible transformations:  the leveling of a hill, the diversion of a river’s course or coastline, historic battles, demolitions, hydro dams, radio stations, displacements and redistributions.  The correlation between such acts and transformations and the six sites will be focal points for this research project.

Each of the collaborating scholars in the working group is responsible for ‘curating’ the access, visualization and analysis of one of the 6 places, as well as inviting guests to join in their investigation.  Documentation will be assisted and consolidated by collaborating graduate students and the lead convener.

The second Stage of the project consists in 6 “walkshops” to each of the selected sites.  Each walk/workshop is complemented by a public talk or discussion organized by a scholar and including invited guests. These sessions offer multiple and interdisciplinary perspectives on the city.  The walks and lectures are open to the  public.

The third Stage of the project consists in the documentation of the 6 spaces and the production of a series of  drawings, aerial photography & video, and also the collection of documentary media, archive material and the editing of a series of texts by the participants and guests.  These documents will respond to some of the core issues of the project (public space, deep layering, communications, embedded media, urban intelligence, mediation, catastrophe, etc).  Graduate and undergraduate students from the Architecture, Landscape and Visual Studies Programs at the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, the Faculty of Information and other Departments, will actively participate in the documentation process, after joining in the previous stages.

The fourth Stage of the project consists in editing a publication and curating an exhibition of the above materials and project documents, supported by collaborating University of Toronto faculties and institutions. The continuation of this project beyond the scope of this Working Group, as will be the redeployment of this investigation and its methodologies in other global cities.


6 Place Toronto defines public space and media as a layered and latent conditions, and explores urban transformation and city making in a collaborative effort between architecture, art, media studies and urbanism.  It studies urban history, form and networks inductively and through their information fluxes, by focusing on six significant spaces.  In so doing it considers hybrid methods of documentation and broadcast of urban and post-urban space.  In considering public space as medium, practice, network, infrastructure, artifact, physical and material space and in investigating its potential reclamations, it wishes to provide alternatives to current smart city discourse and extend and engage the currently fragmented nature of urban commons.