Vancouver, BC, Canada
This project is a conservation rehabilitation of a historic train engine turntable converted into a public plaza at the Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre.
To encourage a more extensive use of the plaza, we added an articulating steel crane with flexible canopy over the performance area for programmed activities, large gatherings, and casual daily use. This provided light shelter or shading for these activities as well as a backdrop for projection during special events. The crane, without the canopy, can become a more sculptural focal point for the plaza contributing to a more animated public place.
Re-orientation of the turntable bridge helped create a more clearly defined space for performances. The once steam-driven bridge that functioned to direct locomotives into the roundhouse repair bays and recently, pedestrians directly through the plaza, now diverts through-traffic away from the bridge and onto the plaza, thereby, encouraging more public interaction with the other new plaza amenities, which include a user-activated mist feature and programmed LED lighting system, movable modular seating, additional fixed seating, trees, accessible ramps, and a viewing platform consisting of heritage display panels incorporated into the guardrails. The integration of diverse design elements created a flexible urban space that appeals to different social groups, setting a strong precedent for creating interactive community spaces in adjacent parts of the urban fabric.
This project’s extensive collaboration process included engaging community stakeholders in the exchange of ideas about how to better utilize the plaza as a social “people place.” This happened through a well-documented series of charrettes and public open house events spearheaded by the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation with the Roundhouse External Task Force volunteer committee, Roundhouse staff and the design team. The process utilized in the project has been successfully re-adapted in the redesign of other civic spaces within Vancouver.
Architect: Nick Milkovich Architects Inc.
Landscape Architect: Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg