Status
Competition
Client
City of London, Ontario
Budget
Size
200 acres
Design Team
Stoss
Dillon Consulting

Collaborators:
plandform
Rosales + Partners
LimnoTech
James Lima Planning + Development
Ombrages - Eclairage Public
Ontario's Thames River Valley is the most prominent geomorphic feature in London with the confluence of two branches into a third at the Forks. A Canadian Heritage River, it makes outstanding contributions to cultural heritage, natural heritage and recreation. Past, present, or future, the Thames plays a central role in defining the social, cultural, civic, and economic possibilities for London's residents, workers and visitors. The City is experiencing a confluence of planning opportunities that will catalyze transformational changes in the fabric of London, Ontario.

But there is untapped potential, and significant issues that need to be addressed. Flooding is a big problem and must inform every strategy for renewal. Water quality is of equal import, it has a significant effect on the ecologies that can thrive in the corridor, and the social/recreational uses that can be supported. Today, transportation, utility, and flood infrastructure is single-purpose and negatively impacts quality of life. Adjacent urban fabric peters out toward the river, is disconnected, is inaccessible, and fails to link people to the Thames.
Back to the River re-embraces the Thames as the social and environmental lifeblood of the City. It re-knits the urban fabric of the city to the river, and uses the river itself—and the revitalized open spaces along it—as catalysts for urban regeneration within Downtown, SoHo, and nearby neighbourhoods. The plan:

CONNECTS the urban fabric in more and better ways to the river corridor, allowing for prominent viewsheds and pedestrian access to the river and easier navigation along it. It allows for new connections back to the adjacent neighbourhoods and Downtown to draw people in, giving the river a greater presence, and sustaining London's heritage.

AMPLIFIES the existing, intrinsic qualities of the water course, natural environments and parkland, building on the Carolinian and Great Lakes-St Lawrence ecotypes in ways that ensures the longterm environmental sustainability of the valley and the functional, cultural and recreational benefits it provides. It creates a richer set of experiences, a richer set of distinct places along the river.

INTENSIFIES moments of interconnection and place, so that the celebratory and civic aspects of the Forks supports more diverse kinds of social activity that overflows from Dundas Place to the riverfront. It engages emerging neighbourhoods around the Forks and SoHo with placemaking, to create more vibrant public spaces on the valley rim, connected to the parks and riparian valley trails. It makes the Thames River Valley more of what it already is—a more compelling and beautiful, a more socially and environmentally rich, a more diverse and interactive river corridor that brings new life to the city around it.