play – Borden Park Pavilion

The proposed design of the new Borden Park Pavilion is focused on creating opportunities for its users to engage in unstructured play, while offering a high level of adaptability and flexibility. Based on the idea that all children explore differently, the proposed building design encourages opportunities for spontaneous cooperation and unstructured exploration. Each child experiences the pavilion in their own way — interaction in, around, over, and with the pavilion varies from child to child.

The design is conceived from the idea of lifting the landscape upward, revealing the layers of the site hidden below. An earthen wall forms the north side of the building; its striations reference the geological strata of the land below. Integral light ledges function as hand and foot holds within the wall, providing the opportunity to further experience the rammed earth through climbing. The convex shape of the wall provides stability for the structure, while allowing the washrooms’ entry and exit points to be safe and visible. This wall protects the plaza space from harsh northern winds, which extends the comfort of that area through the winter months. The whimsical nature of the guardrail barrier, which provides protection while dividing the natural grasses from the more manicured terrain, is designed to spark curiosity and draw children up to explore the roof scape. This affords new perspectives of a familiar park. In winter, the snow that covers the slope of the roof provides opportunities to slide to the courtyard below.

The building’s modest program of public washrooms, a canteen, and a multi-purpose seating/warm up space provides an ideal framework for the design to consider the other uses — namely, providing the opportunity for children and adults, locals and newcomers, all to have the oppor tunity to par take in all the possibilities of play. The sloped underside of the roof above creates an oppor tunity for a climbing area for young children within the multi-purpose space below. This concave wall is coated in a red rubber, providing a safe, seamless, and durable surface for play. It continues onto the floor below and outdoors onto the plaza beyond creating a playful hardscape. This vibrant topping coats the plaza’s surfaces, its topographical groundscape and seating areas, allowing for year round use — from wet feet in the summer to ice skates in the winter. The daylight that floods the coloured glazing within the south face of the pavilion creates ever-changing bands of colour in the multi-purpose room. The resulting stripes of light are reminiscent of the inside of an exhibition tent, and the transparency of the wall connects the multi-purpose room to the plaza beyond.

The pavilion’s design promises benefits not only for children at play, but also for the environment and for accessible design. The design considers all users of the park — all mobilities, ages, and backgrounds. The green roof contains an integrated ramp and rail extending the roofscape to all. The goal of a diverse, active, and healthy population and a sustainable building are synergistic. The extensive use of green design principles serves to educate the public as to the building’s sustainability initiatives as they explore and interact with the pavilion.