June Callwood Park

Toronto, Ontario

Photo Credit: gh3

 

CASE STUDY

Research by: Samantha Miller

Edited by: Nicole Brekelmans

Case study compiled in 2019

Project: June Callwood Park

Type of Urban StrategyEcological Infrastructure

Type of ProjectUrban Park / Urban Forest

LocationToronto, Ontario 

Date Designed/Planned: 2010

Construction Completed2014

Designergh3

 

Designed to honour the life of June Callwood, a celebrated Canadian social activist, journalist, and author, June Callwood Park is an urban forest full of colour. Callwood worked to create safe havens for some of the city’s most in-need groups such as Casey House for people living with AIDS, Diggers House for street kids, and Nellie’s (women’s shelter). After her death, the City of Toronto announced an international design competition for the design of a park to celebrate her life, in which gh3 won the award for the contract. The design team found inspiration in a quote from one of Callwood’s last interviews where she said, “I believe in kindness,” and translated the sound waves right into the design of the park. The pattern of the pavement is meant to resemble the exact soundwaves when looking at the park in plan view. 

 

The park also was designed to have an urban forest, that consists of native Canadian trees. The trees chosen are a sampling of the species of trees that would have been present on the Lake Ontario shoreline at the time in which the city was settled (gh3, 2014). In total, 300 trees were planted, including Red Oaks, and Crabapple trees. They were also looking for a new and fresh way to create a natural setting through its urban forest, within a dense urban environment. The creation of June Callwood Park is part of a larger city plan to redevelop and refurbish the surrounding areas with connecting bridges, walkways, a new visitors centre (Chrisholm, 2009). This project fits well within the case studies of ecological infrastructure because the urban forest has long-term benefits for the environment. It is designed to last generations, through its durable material choices and new plantings. Making long-term investments in ecological infrastructures such as urban parks, green spaces, pocket parks, and urban forests is crucial for a city as large as Toronto.

CONTEXT


Designed to honour the life of June Callwood, a celebrated Canadian social activist, journalist, and author, June Callwood Park is an urban forest full of colour. After her death, the City of Toronto announced an international design competition for the design of a park to celebrate her life, in which gh3 won the award for the contract. The design consists of abstract geometric patterns within clearings in the ‘Super-Real Forest.’ The urban forest consists of native Canadian trees, which are a sampling of the species of trees that would have been present on the Lake Ontario shoreline at the time in which the city was settled (gh3, 2014). In total, 300 trees were planted, including Red Oaks, and Crabapple trees. The park design was dedicated to the memory of June Callwood; however, they were also looking for a new and fresh way to create a natural setting through its urban forest, within a dense urban environment. The creation of June Callwood Park is part of a larger city plan to redevelop and refurbish the surrounding areas with connecting bridges, walkways, a new visitors centre (Chrisholm, 2009).




SITE ANALYSIS


June Callwood Park is located north of Fleet Street, and south of Fort York Boulevard, at 636 Fleet Street. The site is a total of 0.4 hectares and was dedicated to June Callwood in 2005, who later died two years later (City of Toronto, n.d.). The space is a narrow wedge of under-utilized land within the dense urban environment of Fort York. The site is located under 2 km from Rogers Centre, and HtO Waterfront Park, near the water’s edge (Chrisholm, 2009). The site runs along Fort York Boulevard, between Strachan Avenue and Bathurst Street. The City has been working towards creating better and more available connections to the waterfront in this whole neighbourhood. The area was viewed as an ageing industry with many underused and underutilized spaces. The City requested that the park provide visual and physical links between the new residential developments in the area of Fort York, and the waterfront (Chrisholm, 2009). The park is surrounded by tall condo buildings as the area has seen rapidly increasing residential density. Amongst this growing density, is an increasing population of children that have come with it (Calvet, 2014). There was a need for a child-friendly, colourful park at the base of the tall buildings.




PROJECT BACKGROUND AND HISTORY


In 2010, a City-wide Parks Plan was approved and developed, based on seven guiding principles. The Parks Plan aims to guide the management and operation, and development of the system of public parkland in Toronto for over five years. The goal of the Parks Plan is to connect people and communities with parks, improve the quality of parks, advance environmental sustainability and greening, and strengthen the parks system as a legacy for Toronto. At the time of the approval, there had already been works to improve the parks system, so this plan helps to outline priorities and inform decision-making and policymaking. The Parks, Forest, and Recreation’s mission is: “to improve the quality of life of Toronto’s diverse communities by providing safe, beautiful parks, a healthy, expanding urban forest, and high quality, community-focused recreational experiences” (City of Toronto | Parks Plan, n.d.). The Parks Plan built off of the Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division’s strategic plan, adopted by the City Council in 2004. The development of the Parks Plan 2013-2017 involved thousands of surveys, public consultations, and stakeholder sessions. The City of Toronto understood that parks are essential for healthy city life, as they provide attractive places to live, work, and visit. Parks also provide economic benefit and help build a healthy workforce. They contain elements for healthy communities and natural habitats, such as providing shade, producing oxygen and storing stormwater (City of Toronto | Parks Plan, n.d.).




GOAL OF THE PROJECT


The goal of the project was to honour the memory of Canadian writer and social activist, June Callwood. Callwood worked to create safe havens for some of the City’s most in need groups such as Casey House for people living with AIDS, Diggers House for street kids, and Nellie’s (women’s shelter). The City believed that this would be the best way to honour her because of her dedication to children, seniors, and the community in general. “June Callwood will remain a symbol of what an individual can do for the creative and social fabric of the society,” said Councillor Joe Pantalone (Ogilvie, 2005). In terms of urban sustainability, the goal of the park was to revitalize an empty space and create an urban forest and rainwater management system. The Parks Plan built off of the Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division’s strategic plan, adopted by the City Council in 2004. The development of the Parks Plan 2013-2017 involved thousands of surveys, public consultations, and stakeholder sessions. The City of Toronto understood that parks are essential for healthy city life, as they provide attractive places to live, work, and visit. Parks also provide economic benefit and help build a healthy workforce. They contain elements for healthy communities and natural habitats, such as providing shade, producing oxygen and storing stormwater (City of Toronto | Parks Plan, n.d.).




DESIGN, DEVELOPMENT, AND DECISION MAKING PROCESS


The starting point for the design process was finding the best way to celebrate the life of June Callwood. In her last interview, she says, “I believe in kindness,” and the design team decided that they would use this statement as the anchor and starting point for the design. Gh3 physically mapped these words by using the sound waves from the statement in the interview. The transferred the sound wave pattern into a pattern within the pavement, using colours and linear undulations. The voice wave pattern creates a path through six clearings in the urban forest, from north to south. The paths are made with black granite planks that touch the edges of the park to create several access points that connect the east and west sides for the community (gh3, 2014). The ‘Super-Real Forest’ was implemented for many reasons, but ultimately, it is the idea of ecological responsibility. In order to achieve a pleasant city living environment, open and green spaces are imperative. Urban forests are long-term investments that help solidify the long-term sustainability goals of the city and community. Looking past the city’s sustainability goals, urban forests help foster healthy populations by providing greenery and context for play and gathering (gh3, 2014). The raised pavers at the south end create an urbanized version of a wetland; a shallow pool in a continuous fill-and-drain cycle during the summer months (Azure Magazine, 2015). “The elements of the park include: -New accessible playground zones: -Birch Tree Forest climber -Two bay swing with a birds nest and a tot swing -Supernova spinner -An urban boulder rock climber -A new entrance plaza off Gzowski Street -A new pavilion shade structure -An informal seating area and gathering space -Seat walls -Tubular fencing and signage -Benches -And more spaces for families to enjoy the park.” (City of Toronto, n.d.). Within the Time Strips Garden, not only are there rows of plants and trees, but it also includes Toronto’s first permanent sound installation. The sound installation is called OKTA, which consists of a field of 24 “sound-controlled cloud columns,” which were inspired by Callwood’s experience on a glider (Mok, 2019). OKTA was a public commission by Montreal-based artists Douglas Moffat and Stephen Bates. The installation produces a sound that is triggered by the movements of clouds overhead, which creates a constantly-changing listening experience (CNW Group, 2014). The sensor is aimed at the sky and reads the current cloud cover. As the clouds move, shift, and shape, they trigger the installation, which creates the listening experience.




ROLE OF DESIGNERS


Following the death of June Callwood, the City of Toronto announced a two-stage international design competition for firms to submit design proposals for a park to celebrate her life. Gh3 received the award for the design, and then worked with the senior project coordinator to finalize the project.




GENESIS OF THE PROJECT


The Parks Plan 2013-2017 includes many policies that influence parks and trails, such as the Green Space System and Waterfront policies, Public Realm policies, Parks and Open Spaces policies, and Parks, Open Space Areas land use designations, and most importantly for this project, the Natural Environment policies. The Natural Environment policies aim to protect natural areas from pollution and development impacts, as well as addressing habitat connectivity, water flow, and the urban forest (City of Toronto | Parks Plan, n.d.). Since June Callwood Park's main ecological feature is its urban forest, it would have to comply with the policies set out in this section of the Parks Plan, amongst other policies in the plan.




CITATIONS


2015 AZ Awards Winner: Best Landscape Architecture. (2015, August 27). Azure Magazine. Retrieved August 7, 2019, from https://www.azuremagazine.com/article/2015-az-awards-winner-best-landscape-architecture/ Calvet, S. (2014, October 6). An Urban Forest: June Callwood Park Opens Near Fort York [Web log post]. Retrieved August 7, 2019, from https://urbantoronto.ca/news/2014/10/urban-forest-june-callwood-park-opens-near-fort-york Chisholm, P. (2009, March 21). Good vibrations. The Globe and Mail (Index-Only), p. M.1. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/347913436/ City of Toronto | June Callwood Park Revitalization. (n.d.). Retrieved August 7, 2019, from https://www.toronto.ca/city-government/planning-development/construction-new-facilities/june-callwood-park-revitalization/ Gh3* | June Callwood Park. (2014, October 05). Retrieved from https://www.gh3.ca/work/june-callwood-park June Callwood Park Opens in Toronto's Fort York Neighbourhood. (2014, October 4). CNW Group. Retrieved from http://link.galegroup.com.uml.idm.oclc.org/apps/doc/A384577282/CPI?u=winn62981&sid=CPI&xid=fa2b0c10 June Callwood Park [Web log post]. (n.d.). Retrieved August 7, 2019, from https://archello.com/project/june-callwood-park Mok, T. (2019, June). June Callwood Park is Toronto's most unusual public space [Web log post]. Retrieved August 7, 2019, from https://www.blogto.com/city/2019/06/june-callwood-park-toronto-first-voice-print-park/ Canada, City of Toronto, Parks, Forestry and Recreation. (n.d.). Parks Plan 2013-2017. City of Toronto. Retrieved August 7, 2019, from https://www.toronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/98f1-parksplan.pdf
Ogilvie, M. (2005, February 10). June Callwood Park proposed; Council to vote next week on honouring 80-year-old writer In 2007, Fort York site could include playground and rink. Toronto Star, p. B03. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/438791794/




PROGRAMMED ELEMENTS


The different surfaces and open spaces invite different types of gatherings and activities, ranging from social, recreational or meditative. The design itself implies areas for play and self-directed games. Some of the features of the parks include a splash pad/reflecting pool, a hide-and-seek maze, and a pink rubber field for impromptu sports. Within the acoustic wave patterns, five distinct clearings are programmable in different ways. The five clearings are: Puzzle Garden - Protruding organic benches provide a play area with crawlable curves, which also offers vantage points to parents observing their children. The Maze - This space is formed by rows of beach hedge that undulate to create ‘the most cerebral of the clearings.’ The Pink Field - In the centre of the park, the largest and most protected area, is a springy rubberized surface of brightly coloured TPV rubber. This area can be used for games, sports, and improvisational play. This space also houses Red Oaks that frame the space with their tall sculptural forms. The Red Oaks recall the Oak Savannah Forests that inhabited Toronto’s early settlement times. Time Strip Gardens - This space is one for contemplation, with a series of linear strip gardens which are meant to explore the theme of landscape through time. This exploration involves the juxtaposition of various species of native plants and European settlement planting. Ephemeral Pool - This space is the southernmost clearing of the park, which includes an urbanized version of a wetland. Rainwater is collected to create a shallow expanse of freshwater, surrounding by stepping stones and meandering paths. The trees in this area consist of Freeman Maple and Red Oak, which were chosen because they are the hardiest and most salt-resistant species, necessary for their position at the busy edge of Fleet Street (Archello, n.d.).




FUNDING


The Parks, Forestry and Recreation agency of the City of Toronto, invested over $2.6 million for the park. The Toronto Parks and Trees Foundation donated $35,000 of this funding, and a combination of six other foundations contributed $146,000 for the purchase and planting of the gardens and crabapple trees. The private donors of Landscape Ontario, Earthco, and the Printing House also contributed and made donations to help bring the park to reality (CNW Group, 2014).




PROJECT IMPACT


Gh3 has received numerous awards for the design of June Callwood Park, including being the 2007 winning project through an international design competition, the 2015 AZ Award for the Best Landscape Architecture, and the 2015 AZ Award for the People’s Choice for Landscape Architecture (Gh3, 2014).





EDITOR

 

Samantha Miller

Nicole Brekelmans

Zoe Goldman

Desiree Theriault

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