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Sidewalk Labs unpacks its Quayside smart city dream

It could become the largest tall timber development in the world.
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Sidewalk Labs still has a ways to go before it realizes its futuristic vision for Toronto's Eastern Waterfront, but we now know what the smart neighborhood could look like. The Alphabet-owned company has released (PDF) mock-ups and illustrations for the "Quayside," along with details that elaborate on its plans to build the community with lots and lots of wood. Sidewalk Labs plans to use tall timber construction, a method that uses engineered wood, for the buildings in the area.

The company says the technology will allow it to build cheaper structures. Some tall timber materials are fire-proof and as strong as steel or concrete anyway. Karim Khalifa, Sidewalk's director of building innovations, told Bloomberg that if their proposal goes through, Quayside will become the biggest development built primarily with tall timber. "It's such an audacious concept to build this many buildings with 3 million square feet of timber all at once," he said. The company would have to overcome some huge hurdles in the form of permits and bureaucracy before anything else, though: it has plans to build towers as tall as 50 stories, but Toronto only allows the method for buildings six stories tall.

Sidewalk is also thinking of ways on how to build streets that can melt snow and how the area can block winds in an effort to entice people to spend more time outdoors. Further, it's developing streets built with driverless cars in mind, which can morph based on the time of day and the weather. It also wants the streets to be able to transform based on demand in order to cater to cyclists, pedestrians or even street fairs when needed.

You can watch a video of the roundtable where Sidewalk discussed all these plans and ideas below:

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