York Street, Toronto, Canada
Invited Urban Design Competition
Martin Arfalk, Patrick Verhoeven,
Danny Bridson, Andrei Deacu
PLANT Architect Inc.
A green oasis on Toronto’s waterfront
Gardiner Green is a proposal to reclaim 1 hectare of park land for the use and enjoyment of residents, workers and visitors to Toronto’s waterfront. The new park will provide a bold yet serene sensory experience that acts as a gateway between Toronto’s high-traffic, high-density south core and the network of parks along the water’s edge.
The lush and immersive qualities of the park are cultivated by a three layered vertical planting strategy. The vertical overstory, airy understory and sparkling ground plane. Together the layers combine to form a spectacular ‘architectural’ vegetative canopy. Inspired by a damp, abundant woodland a light mist is sprayed between the tall trees and dense floor cover, introducing water into the park in an unexpected, and thoroughly integrated way. By retaining elements of the site’s decommissioned highway ramp - the eight bents - and playfully recreating them as ‘social infrastructure’ the park becomes an intriguing destination. The memorable elements punctuate the enveloping landscape, serving as way finding markers and also infusing the corners of the park with strong character and identity. The tallest bent becomes an impressive swing set, the next a whimsical fountain, another an illuminating lamp.
Oasis becomes oases as the meandering paths of the park twist and lead visitors to a collection of rooms scattered throughout the landscape. The dynamic pockets offer a variety of seating, shade, and activities. The spaces find different use depending on the time of day and season. In the centre of the park the path meets a wide lawn, creating a large flexible clearing that can facilitate large events without surrendering the park’s intimate and sanctuous character.
1. Existing site
A 0.8 ha park surrounded by tall buildings, asphalt and the waterfront.
2. Green dreams
We want to create a lush, immersive landscape in the heart of the city!
The park can become a much needed respite for residents, workers and visitors.
Oasis becomes Oases to accommodate a diverse community of users.
5. Irresistible Targets
The remaining bents beckon for playful and engaging intervention.
6. Collateral Activation
Layered with new life, the bents invigorate the oases with sensory stimulus!
Gardiner green is a soft, cool, and lush retreat in the midst of Toronto’s noisy, busy and hard surfaced downtown.
The design for the park utilises and maximises the existing qualities of the site. The result is an innovative and unexpected design that is deeply rooted in its context.
View from Queen's Quay
Groupings of outdoor rooms provide places to stop and chat, eat lunch, or simply relax. This is primarily a community park for everyday use, but for special events, it can accommodate large crowds.
By transforming the bents with creative and playful structures, lighting, vegetation and water elements the eight bents gain individual personalities that strengthen the park and it’s landscape oases!
The landscape is inspired by the rich Carolinian forests of southern Ontario. This plant community is known for it’s towering overstory of tulip trees, maple, and beech.
From left to right: The swing bent, the leaking bent, the canopy bent, the table bent, the doggy bent, the lamp bent, the pavilion bent and the coin bent.
From the outside, Gardiner Green is like a green beacon, its closely spaced trees draw people toward it. From the inside, the perimeter’s rolling topography screens out traffic and offers a hiatus from urban life.