Architects world-wide have been repurposing shipping containers in efforts to explore the use of recycled materials toward a more sustainable, impermanent and flexible architectural paradigm. I was pleasantly surprised to see this environmentally-minded “cargotechture” trend hit the streets of my Toronto, with the recent addition of a number of repurposed shipping-container vendors along Dundas just east of Bathurst. The markets add a permeable border to a previously barren, hostile relationship between Scadding Court Community Centre and the street.

The “Live Local Marketplace” is an effort of the community centre to reinvigorate its neighbourhood, address safety concerns about the previously neglected corner, and give opportunities for local businesses to procure valuable downtown vending space at extremely low prices. The modular market offers more than food, including handicrafts and cellphone products — and has been a major success in revitalizing a previously underused pedestrian thoroughfare.

I’m very impressed with the initiative to re-imagine retail space in Toronto. The idea of flexible, repurposed, environmental architecture with a holistic approach to reinvigorating city space is one slick move…especially for a city that is otherwise not very progressive.

There is major potential for this type of market to spring up in other underused areas of the city, as the units can be easily bought and cheaply repurposed. So congratulations, Toronto, for success in what may be your first official experiment in pop-up urbanism!

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