Toronto’s Entertainment District BIA held a public design competition to generate ideas for the underutilized public plaza at the southeast corner of the intersection of King and John (adjacent to Metro Hall). Office for Responsive Environments’ entry was one of five finalists.
ORE’s design, titled ‘Oracle Square’, proposed a grouping of sinuous figures reaching skyward. This expressive monument, composed of thin, tall inclined cylinders 3 meters in diameter, 25 meters high, would be an antidote to the vacant facades of Metro Hall that back the site. This approach would provide a confident new centre to ‘place’ this site on the street and within the district, which stretches from University Avenue to Spadina and from Queen south to Front Street.
More than passive structures, the oracles were conceived as having the potential to be technologically responsive figures — in the proposal, they are home to 25 lightning blades and 3 jets, with each cylinder clad in a fully sensitized, programmeable double skin of translucent material. The lightning blades are rooted in an undulating sculpted and porous stone floor, an engineered platform making clearings and intensities populated by ‘mushrooms’ – smooth, three dimensional figures that create cover, protection and visual grounding to the terrain. Set into this ‘forest floor’ are clusters of green circular patches of gardens and reflecting water.