SITE: AN IMPRESSIVE VENUE
Victoria Park is situated within a unique urban condition whereby the city is intersected by a vast river valley. Centrally located within this urban centre, the park offers a natural respite. For vehicular traffic, pedestrians and park users alike, it is both a passage through and a connection to an unblemished natural setting from the greater urban context and communities that surround it. As a host to numerous activities and stunning vistas, Victoria Park offers an abundance of opportunities to experience and appreciate.
At these particular coordinates within Victoria Park, various activities within and without the park boundaries converge to have a different yet direct qualitative impact on the perception of the user. A different experience will be had when driving through the river valley as opposed to walking, running or cycling on the pedestrian pathways along the waters edge, or hiking or biking through the park's various trails. Other seasonal activities such as skating, tobogganing and small ski runs which are practiced on the varying topography offered by the site, will again offer different perceptions of the park. Of key importance to stakeholders of the pavilion, a large skating rink is maintained during the winter season where lacing up and enjoying an afternoon of skating in the park may occur and where the speed skating association convenes on a regular basis. This is truly a park for all seasons.
In the conceptualization of a pavilion for this context, two key components were selected to be the main generative focus of the work. Firstly, the kinetic character of the primary users' activity was seen to be a strong catalyst to the schematic design of the architecture. The second key component was the desire to connect the proximity of the pavilion site to the river's edge, large parking area and thoroughfare to the numerous other year round park activities.
CONCEPT: KINETIC ARCHITECTURE AND RELATIVE MOTION
A common peculiar experience which lies within all of the potential activities of the park is that a user's perception of the park and its surroundings changes relative to the activity they are engaged in, and the experience will further vary relative to the mechanical movement at any given time. The notion that motion may alter the perception of a setting as viewed from varying frames of reference or operation is of key importance. Very simply put, it is acknowledged that skating towards or past an object will provide a different experience then that of walking towards or past the same object. Through activity, a user often becomes faster, lighter and stronger. The pavilion therefore has been conceptualized to foster and participate in this unique change in aptitude rather than simply being adjacent to it. This idea motivated the design concept to reflect the quality that this energy has on the perceived environment of the user. Under the force of this energy, the pavilion's torsion is expressed, giving the impression that the pavilion itself is pushing off, to glide down the ice.
Most typically situated within a larger open setting, pavilion structures generally take a basic structural shell-like quality which in essence offers shelter for respite, gatherings and basic amenities. Although programmed as simple enclosures, these pavilions often express their structure unabashedly striving to be an object of leisure. However demure the pavilion, the shell of the structure can be powerful and effective within a great open setting to amplify a choir of conversation, to contain the scents of cooking, to provide ambience, backdrop and focus to any potential gatherings. There is somehow a natural and explicit simplicity as well as a strong presence to these structures.
The Victoria Park pavilion's genealogy strives to be part of this family of structures. Thought of principally as a shell, the pavilion is - in its essence - a folded adaptation of the typical shell structure. Our desire to create a substantial pavilion terrain to enclose sheltered exterior spaces in addition to the prerequisite requirements necessitated a strategy that would lessen the cost of construction of the building as a whole. Hence, it is assumed that for a fixed amount of funds, a larger in-situ shell structure with focused enclosed areas would be comparable in cost to a complete and self-contained fully articulated building envelope. In reallocating funds to a larger shell, the cost of enclosed areas is minimized by reducing circulation and the building's overall area gross-up factor. Within this shell, only programmatic elements are carefully organized within its fold and only that program would be enclosed and serviced technically. Further, the encapsulated program is efficiently laid out to require a minimum amount of energy for heating, and favours natural ventilation in order to better service the LEED requirements set forth for the pavilion.
The shell structure, like the basic frame pavilion, allows for a covered porch-like exterior space to be manifested, a gesture that creates a sense of entry to the park from one side and access to the ice rink from the other. Where these transitional spaces exist, they extend and partake as landscape architectural components so that the pavilion can actively participate in either the relative perspective of the users or in the staging of their activity. The shell structure and its components are ultimately expressed in torsion as they engage the ice; the concrete fold is a core piece metaphorically exerting a toe pick to shoulder motion. Within this torsion, architectural elements such as the stair and porch are located to work with the resulting form of the shell, while fixed programmatic elements are placed at the core helping the folded structure to become stable and balanced. The arm of the pavilion extends beyond its core allowing for the future phase II development to be nestled to the central core program. To the north, a large deck extends into the park. On mild days year round, the office, kitchen and larger multi-purpose room can spill onto the deck taking advantage of the park setting.
Within the creation of the ice surface, an incredible opportunity exists to introduce further dynamic elements, which can connect the park entrance to the pavilion in a seasonally variable landscape. Areas at either side of the pavilion will be required to be ice landscaped to allow a "skate in" and "skate out" connection to the park entrance / parking area and to the pavilion itself. This aspect of the design allows for each interval of the approach to the pavilion to be a continuation of the other where the demarcation between the arrival to the park, the activity proper and the pavilion are not necessarily sequential but where their use is more subtle and integrated. The parking lot, paths, skate-in and skate-out areas are annexed much like other functions of a larger indoor skating complex to an ice rink, albeit designed to be appropriate for a smaller pavilion and park setting. Parents and children can playfully be adjacent to the large ice surface and participate at a controlled level. Other users can continue to the pavilion without interruption. A user may choose to lace up on a bench beside the parking lot and use the "skate-out" to enter the ice rink and go to or come from the pavilion prior to leaving the park.
The project recognizes that its use is not strictly for preparation to a skating session and that other activities of the park need to be acknowledged. Hence, the porch area can further be utilized as a final preparation area for waxing of cross-country skis, mountain biking, or for the congregation or conclusion of a group activity. The porch is directly engaged as a portal passageway to the park.
LANDSCAPING: TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE SETTING
When further considering the pavilion location, it is difficult to ignore the impressive expanse of the river valley and how the pavilion design can capture and offer the park user yet another relative perspective and experience. Although the shell of the pavilion is conceptualized to be a participatory gesture to the adjacent activity, the resulting larger footprint of the pavilion offers additional programmatic opportunities. From the elevated roof vista, spectators have a direct view of the competitions on the ice surface below. Beyond this immediate activity, the roof folly quietly allows participants to engage with the park through an appreciation of the larger extent of the river valley and university campus high on the banks of the south side. As such, this is seen to be the location of choice for non-integrated art work to be carefully situated in relation to the appreciable backdrop. Removed from the activities below, this perspective is meant to be a counter and complimentary experience to that of the ground plane.
Further, this elevated surface can serve as a potential area for other "staged" events. This new venue can be utilized to shelter concerts, cater to weddings and association parties or other synonymous recreational events making the Victoria Park pavilion a key proponent and agent of the park.
Since the existing park setting is already magnificent, it was important that any new landscape architectural elements not compete with the natural beauty and context of the park but that they be extensions of the pavilion's concept and that they manifest irregular, seasonally changing locations to feature artwork. As such, the areas located at the end of the rink are the main focus of this work. These areas would be gullied so that small water ponds would appear in the spring from the melted ice. This would dry in the summer when crops of rocks would emerge from which the podiums for the artwork pieces would be created. During the winter months, these gullies would be flooded and freeze to become the annexed "skate in" and "skate out" areas allowing users direct contact with the artwork.
LEED: MORE FOR LESS
In this small architectural typology, strategies for sustainability and cost control are simple. The smaller core placed within the larger shell allows for the areas requiring more intensive resources to be reduced and concentrated. This applies to both the initial cost of construction, application of materials as well as building maintenance and energy consumption. This strategy will easily allow the building to achieve LEED Silver Certification with the possibility of attaining Gold Certification.
Of particular importance, the covered porch creates a natural breezeway that contributes to the ability to cross ventilate the core, eliminating the need for air conditioning while the secondary roof further reduces heat gain from the shell's larger surface. This open air space allows natural light to filter through to the more internalized spaces within the core, reducing artificial lighting requirements. The nature of the program for the larger spaces within the core suggests a fragmented schedule of use which allows for reduced energy consumption during specific times of the day or seasons with little to no use.
In addition to inherent positive site conditions, the landscaping requires no grooming or irrigation and the gullies will serve as wastewater capture basins. Overall, the landscaping approach will be to minimize alterations to the natural park setting and habitat.
The washroom fixturing will be selected for low water consumption while the kitchen requirements will be periodic. Interior finishes will be selected for both their durability as well as their sustainable attributes. One example being the rubber matting required in much of the public area. Sometimes more costly in nature, the overall scale of the finishing required can be kept to a minimum as a result of the compact layout within the space allowing for LEED points to be achieved without undue strain to the overall construction costs.
A large portion of the cost will be attributed to the concrete shell form, while the balance of the construction can be well managed through the reduced footprint of the interior spaces. This will translate to the reduced cost of Mechanical and Electrical requirements - two aspects that often demand more than their fair share of the available funds. In addition, the natural Park setting and inherent site conditions allow for less of the budget to be attributed to the landscaping without losing the desired impact. As such, a structure of a notable size will be built within the allocated budget, benefitting both users and funding agencies alike.
(Competitor's text excerpt)
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