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Community Porch

A magnetic, multi-layered park founded by grassroots community engagement, an interdisciplinary design approach, and an audacious client.

Vancouver, BC Canada

An Urban Gift

Located in the heart of downtown, DIALOG has been working with the City of Vancouver Park Board to design Smithe and Richards Urban Park is – a vibrant, dynamic, and inclusive space. Through effective public and stakeholder engagement, a dialogue between the client, design team, and community was initiated, gaining valuable insight from residents and local business owners, and their site-specific knowledge and community considerations. The program for this new park has been consciously assembled in anticipation of an emerging new Vancouver: Vancouver 2.0. The magnetic, multi-layered design that’s been created is a result of the strong collaboration between an interdisciplinary team and an audacious and forward-thinking client – a new 'community porch' for everyone to enjoy.

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 entry points at the Smithe and Richard's intersection, helping to animate the street. 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. In the park, the bridge structure offers much-needed foil against the tall adjacent tower while providing an elevated lookout down Smithe Street. Hammocks or interactive installations will be installed and suspended from the underside of the bridge structure to support a city and community-based initiative to help further animate and activate the civic plaza.

Sky Frames

The last layer of the design includes 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 Park Board
Completion: 2019 (Anticipated)
Size: 3237 sq m