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Sidewalk Labs: The Latest Architecture and News

Sidewalk Labs Reimagines Urban Planning with New Delve Generative Design Tool

Sidewalk Labs has unveiled Delve, a new generative design tool that aims to help developers, architects and urban designers identify better neighborhood design options. It uses machine learning to reveal optimal design options from a series of core components, including buildings, open spaces, amenities, streets, and energy infrastructure. By applying machine learning, it explores millions of design possibilities for a given project while measuring the impact of design choices.

The Upshot of Sidewalk Labs’ Canceled Toronto Project

In May, Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs announced that it would cancel its high-profile Quayside project because of “unprecedented economic uncertainty.” The statement marked the end of a three-year initiative to create a living, urban “testbed for emerging technologies, materials, and processes.”

Reversing the traditional order of city planning, Sidewalk Labs imagined building a new urban district on Toronto’s waterfront from the internet up, with sensors and other data collection infrastructure embedded in the fabric of a large city block. The ambitious development—with an area of 2.65 million square feet, including 1.78 million square feet of residential space—was to be built entirely from mass timber; indeed, the extensive use of modular cross-laminated timber (CLT) and glue-laminated timber (glulam) was a chief selling point of the design (by Heatherwick Studio and Snøhetta, using a kit-of-parts developed by Michael Green Architecture).

Sidewalk Labs Cancels Quayside Smart City Project in Toronto

Toronto's new Quayside smart city development by Sidewalk Labs has been cancelled. CEO Daniel L. Doctoroff announced in a Medium post that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has made the prototype no longer viable. As the subsidiary of Google's parent company Alphabet, Sidewalk Labs aimed to "unlock the potential" of the city’s Eastern Waterfront.

Courtesy of Sidewalk LabsCourtesy of Sidewalk LabsCourtesy of Sidewalk LabsCourtesy of Sidewalk Labs+ 8

Pioneers: 6 Practices Bringing AI into Architecture

In this article, we tap into how AI could be augmenting, changing design processes, and how architects and other professionals are responding and incorporating these technological advancements into their design work. What kind of innovation can AI bring to this industry, and what has been experimented with so far? This selection of projects can help form an opinion on the architectural application of AI.

Sidewalk Labs Releases Prototype Mass Timber High-Rise Design

Sidewalk Labs have released their latest study, called Proto-Model X (PMX), investigating how tall timber buildings could work in cities. As a digital proof-of-concept for how to design and manufacture a tall timber building, the study follows the team’s announcement last June to design the world’s first all-timber high-rise neighborhood on Toronto’s eastern waterfront.

Courtesy of Sidewalk Labs, Michael Green Architecture, GenslerCourtesy of Sidewalk Labs, Michael Green Architecture, GenslerCourtesy of Sidewalk Labs, Michael Green Architecture, GenslerCourtesy of Sidewalk Labs, Michael Green Architecture, Gensler+ 7

City of the Future Elaborates on Responsive Architecture

City of the Future is a bi-weekly podcast from Sidewalk Labs that explores ideas and innovations that will transform cities.

In the final episode of season 2, hosts Eric Jaffe and Vanessa Quirk discuss the past, present, and future of responsive architecture with Sidewalk Labs’ director of public realm Jesse Shapins, engineer and microclimate expert Goncalo Pedro, Bubbletecture author Sharon Francis, and renowned architect Liz Diller of Diller Scofidio + Renfro.

City of the Future Examines the Future of Electrification

City of the Future is a bi-weekly podcast from Sidewalk Labs that explores ideas and innovations that will transform cities.

In the fourth episode from season 2, hosts Eric Jaffe and Vanessa Quirk discuss the future of electrification with Gretchen Bakke, author of The Grid: The Fraying Wires Between Americans and Our Energy Future, and Sidewalk Labs’ director of sustainability Charlotte Matthews.

Toronto’s Quayside Smart City Development to be Scaled Back

The new Quayside smart city development by Sidewalk Labs will be scaled back after a vote last week in Toronto. As the subsidiary of Google's parent company Alphabet, Sidewalk Labs aimed to "unlock the potential" of the city’s Eastern Waterfront. The government agency responsible for development of the area, Waterfront Toronto, voted unanimously to limit the team’s original 190-acre plan to 12 acres.

Courtesy of Picture PlaneCourtesy of Picture PlaneCourtesy of Picture PlaneCourtesy of Picture Plane+ 9

City of the Future Explores the Future of Mobility in Cities

City of the Future is a bi-weekly podcast from Sidewalk Labs that explores ideas and innovations that will transform cities.

In the third episode from season 2, hosts Eric Jaffe and Vanessa Quirk discuss the future of mobility in cities and share ideas that would make it way easier to get around without owning a car. In the podcast, author Horace Dediu talks about micro-mobility; TriMet's Bibiana McHugh tells the story behind GTFS and the OpenTrip Planner; MaaS Global CEO Sampo Hietanen explains the concept of Mobility as a Service (MaaS); and Sidewalk Labs' Corinna Li explains what Mobility on Demand could be like in the city of the future.

City of the Future Shares Thoughts on Retail and Vibrant Streets

City of the Future is a bi-weekly podcast from Sidewalk Labs that explores ideas and innovations that will transform cities.

In the second episode from season 2, hosts Eric Jaffe and Vanessa Quirk discuss the future of retail with author Mark Pilkington, social entrepreneur Sarah Filley, Sidewalk Labs’ Director of Development Carrie Jackson, and others.

City of the Future Discusses Affordability by Design

City of the Future is a bi-weekly podcast from Sidewalk Labs that explores ideas and innovations that will transform cities.

In this episode, the first from season 2, hosts Eric Jaffe and Vanessa Quirk discuss the future of housing with Ori CEO Hasier Larrea, architect Eric Bunge, Starcity CEO Jon Dishotsky, Sidewalk Labs housing expert Annie Koo, and others.

Sidewalk Labs Unveils Full Quayside Master Plan for Toronto

Sidewalk Labs has released the full 1,500 page development proposal for its Quayside neighborhood in Toronto. After announcing plans to create a model smart city, Sidewalk Labs has been working to pioneer a new approach to future urban developments. Plans for Quayside were first revealed last summer as an interconnected smart neighborhood for the city. The Master Innovation and Development Plan (MIDP) proposes a comprehensive planning and partnership model to set a new standard for urban development in the 21st century.

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Sidewalk Labs Tests a 'Raincoat' for Buildings in Toronto

Alphabet-owned Sidewalk Labs is testing a "raincoat" for buildings, a prototype tensile structure that's made to make extreme weather more comfortable. Created as part of the Quayside smart city project in Toronto, the raincoat structure aims to help protect from wind and rain while lowering energy demands on buildings. Designed by Toronto-based RWDI and Partisans, the prototype debuted at Sidewalk's 307 office. Made from a thin plastic membrane, the raincoat will remain up for one year as teams test its performance.

Building Raincoat Prototype. Image © David PikeBuilding Raincoat Prototype. Image © David PikeBuilding Raincoat Prototype. Image © David PikeBuilding Raincoat Prototype. Image © David Pike+ 19

Snøhetta and Heatherwick Design a Timber City for Sidewalk Labs

Sidewalk Labs has released new renderings from Snøhetta and Heatherwick Studio of the Quayside neighborhood development in Toronto. After announcing plans to create a model smart city, Sidewalk Labs has been working to pioneer a new approach to future urban developments. Plans for Quayside were first revealed last summer, designed to be interconnected smart neighborhood for the city. The latest renderings were released with further documents outlining how the company plans to pay for the ground-up development.

Quayside. Image Courtesy of Heatherwick StudioQuayside. Image Courtesy of Heatherwick StudioQuayside. Image Courtesy of SnøhettaQuayside. Image Courtesy of Snøhetta+ 7

Can Future Cities be Timber Cities? Google’s Sidewalk Labs Asks the Experts

Steel and concrete facades have dominated contemporary cityscapes for generations, but as pressures from climate change pose new challenges for design and construction industries, some firms are turning to mass timber as the construction material of the future. But could it be used for structures as complex as skyscrapers? 

Sidewalk Labs Unveils Future City Design for Toronto's Quayside Neighborhood

Sidewalk Labs has unveiled a new proposal for Toronto's eastern waterfront and a neighborhood development called Quayside. After announcing plans to create a model smart city in Toronto last fall, Sidewalk Labs has been working to pioneer a new approach to future urban developments. Plans for Quayside were revealed during a roundtable discussion on August 14, 2018. As the subsidiary of Google's parent company Alphabet, the team responded to an open call from Waterfront Toronto with a design that features heated pavements, large public spaces and mass timber buildings.

Quayside. Image Courtesy of Sidewalk LabsQuayside. Image Courtesy of Sidewalk LabsQuayside. Image Courtesy of Sidewalk LabsQuayside. Image Courtesy of Sidewalk Labs+ 11

3XN Reveals Waving Mixed-Use Building Located Adjacent to Sidewalk Labs' Future Smart City

Danish firm 3XN has been selected as the winner of a competition to design a new mixed-use waterfront building in Toronto’s East Bayfront district that will be located on the edge of Google/Sidewalk Labs’ new smart community, Quayside.

Inspired by the reflection of the waves of Lake Ontario, ‘The Waves at Bayside’ will feature a undulating facade of metal balconies with views out to the water and a podium filled with public program including a rowing club and assortment of restaurants and cafes.

Looking northeast to The Waves at Bayside. Image © 3XNAn aerial view of the project. Image © 3XNLooking down across the multi-tired decks onto the amenity terrace. Image © 3XNAngled balconies and terraces give all suites lake views. Image © 3XN+ 10

Sidewalk Labs Announces Plans to Create Model Smart City on Toronto's Waterfront

Sidewalk Labs and Waterfront Toronto have revealed plans for a brand new community on Toronto’s Eastern Waterfront that will bring together “forward-thinking urban design and new digital technology to create people-centred neighbourhoods that achieve precedent-setting levels of sustainability, affordability, mobility, and economic opportunity.”

Public Realm Vision. Image Courtesy of Sidewalk LabsSustainability Vision. Image Courtesy of Sidewalk LabsDigital Infrastructure Vision. Image Courtesy of Sidewalk LabsHousing Vision. Image Courtesy of Sidewalk Labs+ 12