With approximately 16,000 residents residing within a 0.5 km radius and 52,000 people working in the vicinity, the transformative project addresses the growing demand for parkland in the rapidly expanding neighbourhood.
The design concept, Wàwàtesí, which translates to “Firefly” in Anishinaabemowin, has been selected as the winning proposal for the site. Conceived by West 8 Urban Design and Landscape Architecture, the winning submission was a collaborative effort that included contributions from hcma Architecture and Design, Native Art Department International, MinoKamik Collective, ARUP, KG&A, ERA Architects and A.W. Hooker.
The Wàwàtesí design concept integrates culture, public art, landscape, light and space for performance. This thoughtful approach provides an engaging green oasis for visitors, residents and those who work in the area to enjoy. Wàwàtesí will transport visitors through a woodland experience, all while in a downtown neighbourhood surrounded by high-rise buildings. Over the next two years, the Wàwàtesí concept will be transformed into a more detailed site design.
“The West 8 team rose to the the challenge of meeting the eight ambitious design goals while communicating a clear and poetic narrative, written with a sensitivity that was manifested in the design. They used the design competition to challenge conventions around public space and public art,” read the jury report on the winning design.
The winning design emerged from a two-stage design competition, which culminated in the selection of five shortlisted concepts. The concepts were evaluated by a distinguished panel of experts in landscape architecture, Indigenous placekeeping, architecture, urban design, art and climate resilience. Each concept’s ability to meet the evaluation criteria and technical requirements was considered through this process. The Jury’s final decision was also informed by the public.
The site was once a surface parking lot and, more recently, utilized by a restaurant as an outdoor patio with dining and social activities dubbed RendezViews. It was acquired in 2019 for the specific purpose of creating a park. The patio will remain open over the short-term.