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Community Porch

A force of nature, Smithe and Richards Urban Park’s final design is due to grassroots community engagement, an interdisciplinary design approach and an audacious client.

Vancouver, BC Canada

An Urban Gift

Located in the heart of the Downtown Core, Smithe and Richards Urban Park is Vancouver Parks Board's gift to its residents- a vibrant, dynamic and inclusive space. This urban park was designed through aggressive, inclusive and creative engagement tactics; by an interdisciplinary design team; through extensive research and implementation of Vancouver's multiple policy guidelines. The program for this new park has been consciously assembled in anticipation of an emerging new Vancouver - Vancouver 2.0. The park is a piece of art developed by an interdisciplinary team in close partnership with an audacious and aggressive client. This collaborative's rigor in planning and analysis (bridged with foresight) is what unfolded this iconic, memorable and impactful design: a magnetic multi-layered, effectively programmed, 'community porch'.

Forming a 'Community Porch'

The first stage in forming the Park is manipulating the site grades to create mounded berms along the east and south edges that provide acoustic and visual buffers from adjacent traffic noise while also providing three flat usable terraced spaces from the existing sloped condition.

Café Pavilion

Food is a fundamental attribute that literally ''feeds" life and energy into a public space. The Café Pavilion is regarded as a key component to the Park and is positioned at one of the primary park entry points, at the Smithe and Richard's intersection. As part of the entry experience to the park the Cafe will welcome passers-by and will help contribute to the life and animation of the city streetscape. The building will provide a 30% reduction in energy use when compared to ASHRAE 90.1- 2010. This is achieved by using an air-source heating system with heat recovery ventilator plus an insulated envelope construction with high performance windows.

Pedestrian Bridge

Weaving over the park, this elevated transparent structure appears as a dynamic and dramatic form that provides a curious and distinctive marquee within the predominantly grey surrounding concrete context. While within the park the bridge structure offers a much-needed foil against the tall adjacent towers. It also provides a street look-out down Smithe St. Hammocks or interactive installations will be installed and suspended from the underside of the bridge structure to support city and community based initiative to help further animate and activate the civic plaza.

Sky Frames

The last layer to this park space are a series of structural metal frames that align diagonally down the spine of the park linking all three spaces. They create a 'sky' dimension to the site and respond to the urban scale of the surrounding built form. These frames primarily reside as functional armatures, designed to allow for installations of art pieces, banners or lighting installs to easily be curated by possible partners such as the City of Vancouver Public Art Commission or Vancouver Contemporary Art Gallery.

Project facts

Client: Vancouver Parks Board
Completion: 2019 (Anticipated)
Size: 3237 sq mt