Concord Community Pop-up Park

In less than a year from inception to completion, a 3.5-acre under utilized asphalt expanse was transformed into a lush, vibrant interim park at northeast False Creek. The park’s spontaneous, playful and informal character is expressed through its compelling design intervention. Its success is evident in how visitors feel uniquely welcome to shape and activate the park, instilling meaning and ownership in a place defined by its impermanence.

This portion of the historic 1986 World Exposition site remained static for over 30 years. Residents anticipated a green space similar to other parks along the seawall to the west and south. However, several socio-economic and environmental conditions— including the future removal of the on-site viaducts— caused delays. Because a permanent park could not be built until that infrastructure is dismantled, a unique opportunity to build an interim waterfront park arose. In less than a year, PWL Partnership transformed a neglected expanse of hardscape into a progressive, urban park beloved by the community and inspired by the site’s history and neighbourhood vision.

A robust community co-design process that leveraged local wisdom and community and neighbourhood needs were crucial in shaping the vision. Despite the publicly accessible park technically being a private land parcel, the inclusion of all peoples was a priority. To ensure this was achieved, the design process included the development of an innovative park attendants’ program to engage indigenous youth and members from the local community in the park’s stewardship. Ultimately, the design aimed to create a safe, engaging, multipurpose green space that would be flexible enough to accommodate a range of programming driven by the community.

The park is fully embraced by residents, who have established deep relationships with other park users and expressed an improved quality of life. The park not only expands open space access in an increasingly high-density area, but it also provides a setting for people to safely engage in a variety of outdoor activities. Not surprisingly, the pandemic increased its popularity, hosting more users than ever as people sought out open spaces where they could be together while staying apart. This increase in use revealed capacity planning inherent in the design. If the park’s significant social media presence is any indicator, its impact will be long-lasting and emblematic of this time and place.

Despite its ultimate success, the Concord Community Park site presented a variety of obstacles: the temporary nature of the park; a highly contaminated site capped by existing asphalt; and the pressure of an aggressive timeline. The project team embraced these constraints, resulting in innovative sustainable design principles mixed with fun, practical and economical solutions. This park offers a precedent for landscape architects to understand successful design is not necessarily linked to a site’s permanence but rather to the emotional connection that people form when they feel connected to a landscape and place

Prime Consultant – Landscape Architect: PWL Partnership

Website: http://www.pwlpartnership.com/case-studies/concord-community-pop-park

Collaborators: False Creek Residents Assoc., MPT Engineering, Nemetz + Assoc., Wilco, Dialog Structural

Project location: 50 Pacific Blvd, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2R6

Design year: 2017

Year Built: 2018

Manufacturer of urban equipment: Planter Frames – Lock-Block™, Ping Pong Tables – Sanderson Concrete, Picnic Tables – BC Log Design, Adirondack Chairs – Costco, Galvanized Planters – Northwest Landscape Supply

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