The Orbit - next generation community in a small town in rural Canada

The Orbit - next generation community in a small town in rural Canada

The Orbit is a “vision for a next-generation community”, one that will transform Innisfil, a farming town of 43,000 people in Ontario with a raft of new technologies. “The Orbit is a cutting-edge community where small town and rural lifestyles co-exist with the benefits and attributes of urban living,” the development company said in a statement. The project was “catalysed” by the decision to start construction of a “next-generation transit hub”, GO Metrolinx, which will provide better connections to the likes of Toronto, just 60km away when it opens at some point between 2022 and 2025.

The city will be filled with innovations such as a network of fibre-optic cables, capable of creating streets and infrastructure that are plugged into the internet and use sensors for monitoring. The entire project has the potential to incorporate four million square metres (with 150,000 additional inhabitants, according to the calculations) and could also see the introduction of driverless cars. 

Interestingly, Innisfil has a history of adapting to new technologies – it was one of the first areas to pilot Uber ride-sharing and now partially subsidises Uber taxis rather than paying for a public bus system, with pick-ups and drop-offs at “hubs” such as libraries and sports centres.

With the opportunity to design the city from scratch, new methods of urban planning can be implemented. The streets of the Orbit have been described by Partisans (the development company) as “squircles” – a mix of circles and squares. “The city, inspired by the idea of an orbit, will ripple outwards from this hub in a circular pattern, containing development, while embracing Innisfil’s agricultural roots,” the development firm said. “Essentially, residents will be able to balance the benefits of living in an urban and rural community.”

There will also be a big emphasis on green spaces within the urban environment – large rooftops, for example, will be planted with foliage to suck in CO2 and release oxygen.