OnTheLine: A Gallery of Publicly Accessible Destinations in Waterloo Region
Mona El Khafif
Core Project Team:
Region of Waterloo
Grand River Transit
Building Waterloo Region
NOTESProject was exhibited as part of the Building Waterloo Festival
The Region of Waterloo partnered with DATAlab, a research initiative at The School of Architecture at the University of Waterloo, on a unique exhibition entitled OnTheLine: A Gallery of Publicly Accessible Destinations in Waterloo Region. Through an innovative use of mapping and technology, OnTheLine converts the 200 iXpress transit route into a gallery connecting transit riders with the rich collection of local destinations located along the bus route, while simultaneously supporting the shaping of a collective identity for Waterloo Region.
The OnTheLine exhibition presents a transit-oriented cultural guide by highlighting and connecting transit riders with local arts, culture, architecture, heritage, commerce, recreation and entertainment activities along the 200 iXpress bus route. With 15 stops and a frequency of 10-15 minutes, the 200 iXpress is a fast and efficient public transit system serving the three historic city centers within the Tri-City corridor and the University of Waterloo. The line’s geographic coverage and its high level of service embed the transit line within the daily life of the region and therefore provide for a dynamic site for the exhibition.
SHAPING A REGIONAL IDENTITY
In addition to promoting the potentials of public transit in developing the region, the project explores ways in which public participation and community engagement can be paired with transit as facilitators in the further shaping of Waterloo Region. In this regard, two complementary sets of data contribute to the unified presentation of destinations on the line. On one hand, the project presents a curated and centralized set of local cultural destinations and activities that have been assembled from a suite of local information resources such as Grand Social and Doors Open. On the other hand, a more emergent set of destinations will be presented whereby the public will be able to submit their own entries to the list of presented destinations. This emerging data set will contribute to a growing directory of local information, engaging a diverse range of participants as project collaborators. These two datasets, the curated and the emergent, will work together in shaping and presenting a collective identify for the region.
The project consists of physical installations and digital interfaces. Utilizing bus shelters, buses, a centralized project display in downtown Kitchener, and an interactive website as vehicles for information transmission, the exhibition focuses on 800 meter walking-sheds around each transit stop by highlighting the destinations within the targeted area. Using a combination of posters, physical installations and a web-based application, OnTheLine both distributes and collects information about activities, events, and destinations. Postcards and printed guides promote and guide the exhibition along the iXpress corridor and direct the public to the to the participatory web application. In addition to permanent local features, the exhibition will showcase hotspots for local festivals taking place over the summer months. In particular, OnTheLine, presents related events as part of the Building Waterloo Region Exhibition, which celebrate Waterloo Region’s culture and heritage.
A PROTOTYPE FOR FUTURE TRANSIT INITIATIVES
As a prototypical strategy for integrating social and cultural information within a transportation system, the project serves as a template for embedding future public transit initiatives within their urban and cultural contexts.