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Spadina Wavedeck, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
A cross between bridge and boardwalk, Spadina Wavedeck is part of a series of timber structures that build a coherent identity across the Toronto Central Waterfront. This 630m2 wooden structure offers a new waterside gathering place in an area that was formerly a narrow sidewalk and lacked public access to the lake. With playful undulating geometry, the Wavedeck creates a flexible public space at one of the most heavily used parts of the Toronto shoreline.
The project uses a simple yet surprising form to allow unique programming possibilities and interactions with both the lake and the urban streetscape. It combines innovative geometry, careful use of materials and detailing, unique lighting effects, a clever accessibility strategy, and integrates an ambitious aquatic habitat component within the scope of the project. It introduces a form of public space new for the city of Toronto which promotes new interactions with people and the landscape — making more space for pedestrians and building the character and identity of the Central Waterfront public realm. Though it is just a small part of a larger revitalization plan for the waterfront, it hints powerfully at the kind of change possible on the lakefront.
In order to establish a coherent aesthetic for the public realm along the waterfront, the simple undulating timber wave gesture became a prototype that will be repeated at seven heads of slips with subtle variation. The identity of each wave structure is derived from the spatial qualities and activities suggested through its form; different levels of contact with the lake and a water's edge bench oriented towards both the lake and the city highlight the experience. Each Wavedeck is a response to the current pinch-points where the streetscape meets the water's edge, creating a new public space gateway where the city kisses the lake, inspired by the sinuous contours of the shoreline of the Canadian lakefront.
The project takes the problem of a lack of pedestrian space along Queens Quay and, essentially, creates new space “out of thin air” using a cantilevered structure on piles over the water.
The unique geometry of the Wavedeck is unprecedented where the playful curves are constantly changing. The form stimulates and allows people to interpret the space in many different ways — the landings on the east and west sides allow for informal staging for buskers and other performers and the steps can be used as seating. This is a flexible public space. The stairs act as an informal amphitheatre and the varying heights of the deck allow for different vantage points and, ultimately, different experiences with the lake. The Wavedeck is completely wheelchair accessible and routes from the street to the central overlook area are seamlessly integrated into the form and marked by a stainless steel disc pathway.
Spadina Wavedeck is positioned to help stitch together the Music Garden and HTO Park, two already revitalized public spaces on Toronto's Waterfront. This link has already transformed the waterfront stroll. The Wavedeck’s undulating wooden deck with carefully detailed finishes has been described as having a “sheer unexpected beauty that can’t help but make one hunger for more.” The deck had to be structurally designed to withstand the strong wave force of the lake and any ice shifting, giving it a robust quality befitting its dockland site.
The invisible parts of the design are equally important: the project also includes the design of new aquatic habitat in the lakebed. Riverstone shoals, tree logs and embankments were installed to provide shelter and increased feeding and foraging opportunities for lake fish. This important sustainable feature is subtly highlighted by night by a sublime underwater lighting display of 24 LED lights.
West 8 + DTAH
Schollen & Company
Mulvey + Banani International
David Dennis Design
Brian Ballantyne Specification
"Very poetic. The moves are so simple, yet accomplished. Beautifully crafted."
— 2009 Professional Awards Jury