Making local landmarks

Colleen Connolly

Since July, passengers of the iXpress 200 have been taking place in an exhibition entitled OnTheLine: A Gallery of Publicly Accessible Destinations in Waterloo Region. The exhibition is composed of map installations on each shelter along the iXpress bus route that display categorized data informing pas- sengers of events and locations within an 800-meter radius.

As part of Building Waterloo Region, an architectural festival that will commence at the end of the year, OnTheLine connects residents with a series of select destinations through both physical installations and digital interfaces.

OnTheLine was developed by a research initiative at The School of Architecture at the University of Waterloo called dataLAB. DataLAB co-founders and project curators Mona El Khafif and Maya Przybylski, along with a number of student research assistants, compiled two sets of data for the exhibition.

The first is a set of curated data adapted from various local information sources that was filtered into five categories. iXercise features locations for recreational activity, iXperience features entertainment spots, iXhibit features arts and culture destinations, iXplore caters to the curious and iXamine features areas of educational practice. There is also a sixth category entitled iXplain which deals with the second, emerging set of data generated by the public. IXplain features user generated destinations that the public is able to submit by tweeting photos and descrip- tions of their favorite places around the city.

OnTheLine has transformed the iXpress 200 bus route into a cultural gallery that its curators hope will serve to unify the region. “Culture is a carrier of identity,” said El Khafif in an interview with the Community Cord Edition.

“Our agenda is trying to understand what the identity of the region is and allowing citi- zens, by posting their pictures and their own destinations, to shape this regional identity.”

The project also serves to support Grand River Transit as a connecting thread through- out the region. “The whole thing is also for sure a promotion of public transit and the idea of branding the iXpress,” El Khafif admitted. “We are really in support of public transit.”

Throughout July and August, all maps could be found on display at the Kitchener Studio but have since been taken down and are traveling to a new location. Bus shelter installations are still in place, however, and a call continues to go out for public participation.