The Lower Donlands Project

The Lower Donlands Project

Project by Benisch Architekten

CLIENT: Private

LOCATION: Toronto, ON Canada

OPENING: Competition - concept completed in 2007

PROGRAM: Urban planning

from industrial port to sustainable green city

This vast tract of obsolescent port of industrial land, is the new frontier for Toronto – an extraordinary terrain of availability with remarkable possibilities. The impetus for a new equitable reconciliation between the city and its surrounding environment originates in many sources – ecological, cultural, aesthetic, social, and economic- and by a sense of crisis Torontonians feel as environmentalists have called attention to the appalling degradation of the Don River valley and watershed, and to the effects this degradation has on the people. Cities like Toronto are in transition, they are deindustrializing. 

Our proposal for the transformation of the Toronto Lower Don Lands from port to sustainable “green” city is about how this process should unfold. It is neither possible nor desirable to erase the past. Likewise, it is neither possible nor desirable to replicate what nature had placed here before. We propose a new type of territory where city, lake, and river interact in a dynamic and balanced relationship as an urban estuary.


our process

Understanding the ecological environment of the river mound and the river itself was paramount to accommodate the desired urban development without interfering, and, in many ways, restoring, the local natural life.

This process required the involvement of many partners, including the City of Toronto, the Parks and Recreation Department, the Environmental Department, landscape designers, and local politicians.

In collaboration with MVVA (NYC) and Ken Greenberg (Toronto)

In collaboration with MVVA (NYC) and Ken Greenberg (Toronto)

ArchitectureChristof Jantzen