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Caleigh MacDonald, "Road Analysis"

Drawing and Representation II (ARC200)
2019

In ARC200, students expand their representational skills by analyzing and drawing an entire Toronto neighbourhood. Caleigh's assignment was to focus on a swath of Malvern, a suburban-style neighbourhood located in Toronto's northeast corner.

While surveying the site, Caleigh took note of a distinguishing feature: unlike Toronto's downtown districts, where the roads conform to a grid system, Malvern's thoroughfares were deliberately curved.

"I visited the site and took pictures every 25 to 50 metres, to get a sense of how these curves looked in real life," Caleigh says. She used her drawing skills to break Malvern's curves down into a set of typologies: square curves, single curves, culs-de-sac, hybrid curves, and compound curves. She isolated those curves from the city map and then ranked them by prevalence, in order to gain an understanding of how often they occurred in the neighbourhood.

She came to understand that the effect of all of these curves was to obscure sight lines within the neighbourhood. As a result, navigation was often difficult. "You sometimes feel very enclosed, like there's not a way out," she says.

For her final project, she advanced a radical proposal for improving wayfinding in Malvern. Since the streets can't be straightened, she suggested adding landmarks along the main streets that frame the neighbourhood — new, taller buildings that could been seen from far away, allowing them to serve as reference points for anyone passing through.

Instructor: Michael Piper