The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - 13

AN URBAN SENSORY WALK
by GORDON S. GRICE, OAA, FRAIC

hen we experience our environment, we tend to rely mostly on our
visual sense, but our other senses are always engaged, whether we
realize it or not. Last spring, I took a sensory walk under the guidance
of Jonathan Silver. On our tour, we visited a variety of spaces that had
a special appeal to non-visual senses. By paying particular attention
to these senses, we were able to experience these environments, and our city, in a
unique way.
Our tour begins at a small amphitheatre tucked into the corner of Queen and Dufferin
Streets in west-end Toronto. There are eight participants, including Jonathan and me.
Two more join us later.
Most amphitheatres are acoustically sophisticated, but since the seating in this
one is oriented toward a busy street, it doesn't work well as a
theatre. What you hear, loudly and clearly,
is traffic noise. As a place for intimate discussions amid the din of traffic, it probably
works fine. Meanwhile, it was sometimes
hard to hear our leader speaking.
A light rain starts to fall and the aroma
of dust and ozone masks the smell of traffic. Jonathan tells us that we will be visiting
many kinds of spaces, but we should notice
that quiet spaces in cities like ours attract
people because they feel comfortable and
unstressed. Sensory overload leads to loss
of attention and fatigue. He suggests that we
try to notice the different feelings we get from
different spaces and also to notice the points
where transitions occur.
Walking a short block south on Dufferin
street, we turn west onto a laneway, poetically named Milky Way. It is quiet here. We
stop next to a wall decorated with colourful
graffiti. The rain continues but Jonathan doesn't
use rainwear or an umbrella. I see his point: if
we're going to enjoy the full sensory experience,
we shouldn't shield ourselves from parts of it.
Jonathan tells us that people mostly don't consider that our environment is a unified experience
of all the senses.
Continuing west, our next stop is Gwynne
Avenue. The difference in feeling between Gwynne
Avenue and Queen Street, only a block away, is remarkable. The trees crowding and
shading the roadway are fragrant and cool. There's no traffic.
Another short block south takes us to a narrow footpath, squeezed between a
house and a garage on the east side of the street. Walking single-file along this short
path, we are suddenly, unexpectedly transported to another time and place. It's hard
to take it in. Victorian-era houses, some festooned with flags, huddle around a small,
quiet, brick-paved square, shaded with broad-leafed trees, and illuminated by gas
lamps that are burning, even in midday. This is Melbourne Place and it doesn't feel
like we're in Toronto anymore.

A sensory tour
stop on The Milky
Way, Toronto.
PHOTO: THE AUTHOR

The Right Angle | Summer 2018 | 13



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018

Message from the Board
Walking
Integrated Building Design... and More
Feature Project: Guelph Market Square
Index of Advertisers
Locations
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - Intro
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - cover1
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - cover2
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - 3
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - Message from the Board
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - Walking
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - 6
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - 7
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - 8
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - 9
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - 10
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - 11
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - 12
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - 13
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - 14
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - 15
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - 16
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - 17
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - Integrated Building Design... and More
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - 19
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - Feature Project: Guelph Market Square
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - Index of Advertisers
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - Locations
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - cover3
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2018 - cover4
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