MABELLEpark and The Belle

Etobicoke, Ontario

MABELLEpark will serve as a model for social and cultural innovation to bolster community and collective resiliency in areas of dense vertical housing.

 

MABELLEpark, set to open in the summer of 2024, marks the culmination of a 16-year urban renewal effort led by the not-for-profit organization, MABELLEarts to transform what was once an eroded landscape that provided a pedestrian shortcut to the subway station and school, into a vibrant community hub. 

The Etobicoke property is owned by Toronto Community Housing (TCH) and surrounded by seven towers that are home to approximately 4,000 residents who are predominantly low-income and racially diverse newcomers to Canada. Our work with MABELLEarts drew on the organization’s core mission to infuse activities with art, theatre, and design, engaging the residents in an innovative consultation process that both outlined their needs and built trusting, long-term relationships.

The 2181m² (half-acre) park will feature abundant seating, gardens populated with both native plant species and plants from the home regions of local residents, and a range of artist/community co-created public artworks – most notably a covered water feature.

The park’s focal point will be The Belle, a sculptural beacon and an open-ended structure that can be used for an array of functions. The Belle will include staff workstations, a small kitchenette for food service, public washroom facilities, and two multi-purpose work rooms that can be combined into one larger room. Folding glass doors will open to a covered deck that will serve as both a porch and a performance stage. 

Toughness and resiliency were important design considerations as The Belle will have both a limited maintenance budget and limited supervision, particularly overnight. To limit both maintenance and vandalism, we wrapped the building in a sustainably produced and highly durable diamond-shaped aluminum shingle that is tightly fitted to the building so that people cannot pull on it, hang on it, nor hide in its corners. 

MABELLEpark is about a lot more than creating a space for wonder, it’s about leveraging creativity to bring people together and strengthen community wellbeing.