Capital Reading Garden: Pop-Up Urbanism in Ottawa


The Capital Reading Garden is a popup urbanism project enabled by the NCC beside the Rideau Canal.  You can find it one weekend a month in the summer, just south of the Corktown Footbridge (Somerset Street) on the eastern bank of the canal.  It provides chairs, tables, reading material and wifi.

The idea behind popup urbanism is to experiment and see what works.  This can be on a large scale like increasing the pedestrian space in Times Square (Broadway reconfiguration), or on the small scale like turning a single parking space into a temporary park.  The Capital Reading Garden is somewhere in the middle.  The article Street Makeovers Put New Spin on the Block has a good summary of the idea

“The experimental approach is local and low risk, with low expectations,” says Mike Lydon, a planner and principal of the urban-design firm Street Plans Collaborative. “You can try things out at a small scale and see what works.”

The Capital Reading Garden is one of four projects and one event that the NCC chose as a combination that would animate the east side of the canal, from Union Station to the CRG location just south of the footbridge.

The Garden is also an example of the Crowd-Funded Urbanism trend.  The NCC provides permission for use of the land, but no funding.  CRG used funding from the Awesome Ottawa Foundation in order to purchase the tables, chairs, reading material and wifi that the site provides.  That funding and the available volunteers enable the following pop-up dates:

  • July 14-15, 2012
  • August 11-12, 2012
  • September 1-3, 2012

On those dates the Capital Reading Garden will be set up from 10 AM to 4 PM.

Additional funding would go towards:

  1. More chairs and tables
  2. Freestanding sun umbrellas
  3. A book cart
  4. Continued provision of wifi
  5. A long-term storage solution for the site furniture

Additional volunteers would enable us to be open for more days.

Capital Reading Garden logo by Steve St. Pierre

More information is available in both official languages:

English website and email:

English Twitter: @CapReadingGdn

French website and email:

French Twitter: @JrdLectureCap