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ABU DHABI
Four Season AL MarYah
24TH and 25TH JANUARY 2018
NEWS

Reimagining The Role of Places to Save The World

Marcello Cabezas, Placemaker/Curator, Canada
stackt toronto © macIDeas
stackt toronto © macIDeas
East Harbour © macIDeas
Drake Hotel © macIDeas

Drake Hotel Properties is a Toronto-based hospitality brand focused on a growing collection of culturally inspired hotels, restaurants and retail stores all set in unique neighbourhoods.

From Drake’s inception in 2004, promoting and showcasing art has been integral to our vision. We work directly with established and emerging artists and performers to develop site-specific installations throughout our properties, display their art in our curated exhibits and perform on our many stages. Each Drake location is more than a restaurant or hotel; we are a cultural community centre that enthusiastically promotes contemporary visual and performance art. Our mandate is to welcome diverse audiences to engage in contemporary culture, to promote the work of artists and performers, to act as an incubator of new talent and ultimately to entertain, educate and delight our guests. Those who know us best say we’re a hotbed for culture.

Download The Drake Hotel Corporate Brochure 

Drake Hotel Properties is a Toronto-based hospitality brand focused on a growing collection of culturally inspired hotels, restaurants and retail stores all set in unique neighbourhoods.

From Drake’s inception in 2004, promoting and showcasing art has been integral to our vision. We work directly with established and emerging artists and performers to develop site-specific installations throughout our properties, display their art in our curated exhibits and perform on our many stages. Each Drake location is more than a restaurant or hotel; we are a cultural community centre that enthusiastically promotes contemporary visual and performance art. Our mandate is to welcome diverse audiences to engage in contemporary culture, to promote the work of artists and performers, to act as an incubator of new talent and ultimately to entertain, educate and delight our guests. Those who know us best say we’re a hotbed for culture.

Download The Drake Hotel Corporate Brochure 

Many are looking an answer to what may seem like a simple question.

How can fellow humans care lead a more fulfilled life and what role do places play in a solution?

Today, we know that technology connects us all like no other time in the history of the world. That said, we also know too many are living through their devices and the instant gratification that it brings. Loneliness is prevalent. Mental health is suffering.

There is a needed and exciting opportunity to create places to be gathering sanctuaries leading to more fulfilled connections, and bluntly, happier more productive humans.

“Well, that’s sounds expensive,” you may say. “Let’s focus on the functional delivery of these places.” you may think. “We can’t save the world,” you may quip.

So what’s the way forward then?

More and more humans are in fact looking for authentic memorable experiences as a way to learn and discover more about themselves, others and the world around them. They want ever-changing moments and are more curious than ever. They want to collaborate and they want to belong to something that has a higher purpose.

The very idea that they spend so much time at home and at work brings a massive opportunity for companies and real estate developers. 

That opportunity you ask?

Simply, how can places where people live, work, play and travel deliver and curate experiences that give no reason for anyone to want to leave and every reason to stay? How can places be triggers for happiness, wellness, balance, and fulfillment in all we do? How can functional live and work sites be turned into dynamic gathering hubs designed to elevate the human spirit for a better more socially conscious world where compassionate active citizenship behaviour is the norm?

People are not looking for black boxes to live or work in. The want places to be filled with life and experiences.

We have had various opportunities to work on ground breaking projects where placemaking and delivering experiences in all aspects of lifestyle like food & beverage, wellness, arts & culture, technology, maker, learning and discovery was essential to the business model and success of the venture. This came from the top of the decision making tree and was part of the overall project from the beginning. That said, at times, when plans were delivered, there seemed to be a reluctance to execute, no matter what the research and enthusiastic ideation clearly stated. Bluntly, there are some incredible ideas that are currently collecting dust on some developers desk.

In the end, it became quite apparent that decision makers need proof of concepts and as we have moved forward in our placemaking work, piloting big ideas are more palatable to be green lit.

So who is getting it right in Toronto? What have been and are some of our most inspiring projects to work on?

To those who think that a hotel is just to sleep at, meet the The Drake Hotel who right from the early days sought to be a community hub centred in delivering memorable experiences. Be it art, be it food, be it discoveries in your hotel room, they wanted to surprise and delight. They continue to re-invent and are successful because of this.

And what about that outdoor film, music and food experience called Open Roof Festival? What began 10 years ago in an unused brewery parking lot under a city highway has turned into a go to happening that Torontonians look forward to every summer.

You want to do what with a soap factory? Kudos to First Gulf, one of Canada’s foremost developers in the commercial and retail space. On the land purchased for a future project, one found soap factory that was really only being used for film shoots. They saw an opportunity to animate the site with temporal uses by the creative sector as a way to develop an emotional connect with practitioners as well as to inspire the community to see the area in a different light. What followed was the establishment of a two year plan and eventually choosing EDIT, a one of a kind international design festival in partnership with the UN Sustainable Development Goals program to pilot how the space could be used. All in all, a very positive result, and now the world waits to see how else the space will be used.

What’s to come on this site is even more exciting. East Harbour will be the largest commercial and retail development ever in Canada to be built in stages from 2019 for about 20 years. In a forward thinking move, the developer engaged us to deliver recommendations at the master plan stage in all aspect of lifestyle including food & beverage, wellness, play, learning & discovery. Their interest was not just in the experiential ideas but also in the infrastructure to deliver them. This could be precedent setting.

Toronto will be getting the restoration of a 1937 theatre in 2018. The Paradise Theatre is a legacy project from a well to do local citizen. This will be a game changer for the local community while its offerings will no doubt have global relevance. Of note here is a private citizen stepping up to do something extraordinary for the city. The hope is that this and other like projects will inspire others with means to follow.

The belle of the ball globally these days seems to be shipping containers. A new project called stackt will be in market late spring 2018 for two and a half years. It will deliver one of a kind experiences in all aspects of lifestyle within a unique ecosystem. Reimagining a 100,000 square ft. plot of city owned land in the downtown area, the hope is that every day citizens will contribute to the fabric and experiences of what is instore. From the developers stand point, they hope that this will be a proof of concept to trigger future stackt’s globally.

So what’s the moral of the story here within all these examples?

Our world needs to bring humans together in real life and therefore places of live, work and play have an incredible opportunity to be the solution and can re-imagine the role they play in our lives. Be it at the interim or permanent realization of a place, more trust must be put in the hands of experts and practitioners in all aspects of modern lifestyle to advise projects. Get the experts who know the creative experiential world engaged at the same time architects, city planners, and engineers are. That needs to be a starting point.

What’s that saying, “if you need a plumber, you go hire a plumber.” Right?  That same rationale should be put into practice as it pertains to curation of any place.

The hope is that citizens will demand more, government policy will see the potential of what places can truly be, and real estate developers of all kinds will see that social good can be incredible business development as well.

Here’s to a bright future and a better world. One place at a time.

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