Each child explores differently—seeing, touching, climbing on, or crawling in—and the new Borden Park Pavilion embraces this diversity through design. By encouraging children to engage in unstructured play, the Pavilion design offers opportunities for spontaneous cooperation and exploration in an adaptable environment.
A child’s natural curiosity to see how things work inspired the design, which imagines raising the landscape to reveal the layers hidden below. Striations on the earthen wall forming the north side of the building reference the geological strata of the ground below. Integrated ledges function as handholds for climbing, and the convex shape of the wall provides structural stability while incorporating washroom entry and exit points that are safe and visible. On the south face of the Pavilion, coloured glazing creates changing bands of colour with stripes of light reminiscent of a circus tent.
Moving upward, the wall protects the plaza from harsh northern winds, improving user comfort in winter months. A whimsical guardrail barrier divides natural grasses from manicured terrain and is designed to spark interest, drawing children up to explore the roofscape. From this vantage point, young explorers experience new perspectives of a familiar park. Seasonally adaptive, the slope of the roof provides a toboggan hill in snowy winter months.
A modest program of public washrooms, a canteen, and a multipurpose seating/warming space provide an ideal framework for the design to consider other uses. The sloped underside of the roof, and red rubber walls in the multipurpose space, create a climbing area for younger children. The rubber coating extends along the floor and leads out into the plaza, providing a playful hardscape that promotes year-round use.
The design of the Borden Park Pavilion promotes accessibility and sustainability. Park users of all mobilities and ages were considered with the inclusion of an integrated ramp and rail that makes the roofscape accessible to all. Extensive use of green design principles serves to educate the public on the building’s sustainability initiatives as they explore and interact with the Pavilion. Through playful and innovative design, a sustainable and visually intriguing building was developed to serve a diverse and active population.