A VOICE IN THE FOREST
The starting point of our design takes a voice sampling of June's own words—“I believe in kindness”—physically mapped onto the site, its undulations creating the abstract geometric pattern of openings and clearings within the dense groves of the Super-Real Forest. June spoke of kindness as “the god in our machinery,” believing in kindness rather than organized religion or God; these words are taken from her last interview expressing that core idea. The edge of this voice wave pattern creates a sinewy path that runs north to south through five clearings in the forest, connecting Lakeshore to Fort York, its black granite planks touching the edges at several points to provide east-west community access into the park.
The Super-Real Forest inhabits the site with plantings of native Canadian trees, a sampling of the specimens that would have inhabited the Lake Ontario shoreline at the time the city was settled. The park is loosely zoned into six clearings: the Puddle Plaza, the Puzzle Garden, the Maze, the Pink Field Plaza, Time Strip Gardens, and Ephemeral Pools, each with its own unique spatial character and aspects of unprogrammed play it encourages.
The range of experience invited in the park is rooted in archetypal, timeless themes of human play, rather than contrived mechanical devices or apparatus that often limit their enjoyment to a specific age range.
Intrinsic to the Super-Real Forest is the idea of ecological responsibility, its design inextricably bound to its underlying environmental imperative. Investment in a forest commits to thinking long-term; we imagine the lifespan of the park will make it relevant to centuries of children and adults alike.
The basic moves of the design—the creation of a richly varied forest interwoven with opportunities to enjoy the simple pleasures of community and play—find a common starting point in the fundamentally optimistic vision of life in the city that characterized June's world view.
Community engagement in the process will also play an important role: we imagine that Toronto youth will be active in the park's creation and stewardship.
(From competitor's text)
The competition jury selected the gh3 proposal for June Callwood Park as the winning submission.
The jury was very supportive of the voice wave form taken from June Callwood's last interview and its articulation into the ground plane as a subtle organizing element. This overall organizing element and the ‘urban forest' design idea were graphically communicated very powerfully and resulted in an exciting scheme.
The ‘urban forest' was a strong design choice which had numerous benefits to the site including shade in summer months and shelter and shape in the winter months with strong interest in the spring and fall due to the varied nature of species proposed. While the jury supported the overall concept of the urban forest, there were concerns expressed regarding spacing, species selection and soil volumes to support the densities proposed.
The manner in which the wave form creates a number of glades or clearings in the scheme, populated with various program elements, was well received by the jury. The attempt to achieve multi-functionality for children and adults was also clearly considered by the team. Area demographics will change over time however and the jury agreed that play value for the elements proposed may be limited and not hold children's interest. The jury was intrigued by the water element in the southern clearing, especially in regards to the seasonal considerations.
Overall, the scheme proposes an open ground plane with generally free pedestrian movement in all areas – either along the central axis on granite or under the tree canopy. The graphic illustrations of this vision were especially compelling. The jury supported this design vision but had concerns with the ground plane material proposed under the canopy in regards to longevity, practicality and cost.
Jury Recommendations for Design Development:
1. The jury recommends that in support of the ‘urban forest' the design team fully explore tree species selection, spacing and resultant soil volumes to ensure limited mortality and longevity. The design development should also consider future succession and management.
2. The jury supports the attention paid to multi-functionality however the jury recommends the design team undertake expanding the play value / range of play offered by the scheme and reconceptualize the play elements accordingly. Of specific consideration, the stainless maze, while intriguing and compelling, seems too tall and appears potentially threatening and the pink puzzle offers limited play opportunities given its static nature.
3. The design needs to examine the ground plane in greater detail. The ‘gabian stone baskets' especially, represent a potentially impractical and possibly quite costly element. The selected ground plane option needs to consider many elements such as future maintenance, pedestrian movement, water permeability, soil compaction and the impact of seasonal detrital depositions.
4. The geothermal heated reflecting pool is an intriguing design proposal. Further detail is required to support the practicality of its four-season use.
5. The practicality of ‘elastocrete' should be assessed in greater detail. The durability and functionality of the material choice over formed, sculpted pieces or as a ground plane was not fully supported by the jury.
6. The corian benches offered a unique and powerful statement at night as a component to the overall lighting strategy. Further design development is required in regards to this material choice, its durability as a constructed piece and maintenance implications.
7. The design proposes unique, custom design pieces and complex ground plane treatments and as a result, careful attention should be paid to budget through the design development process.
8. The overall design vision is particularly strong and compelling however the jury recommends that the design team remain cognizant of the scale of the park through the design evolution process. The size of the site is a limiting factor for many program choices while at the same time cluttering the space is also a potential risk.
(From jury report)
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