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Merit Award - DESIGN

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Site Furnishings at Parliament Hill
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg

Greg Smallenberg, ASLA
Principal, Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg
2327 Yew Street
Vancouver, British Columbia V6K 3H1
Tel. 604-736-5168;
Fax 604-736-5167

Description and Purpose of Project

The development of the Parliament Hill site furniture prototypes is a component of the comprehensive landscape plan for the site as a whole. It is the first in a series of landscape related works that will take place on this nationally significant landscape during this new century. In keeping with the approach established in the Parliament Hill Landscape Plan, the site furniture is a contemporary design layer that is respectful of the heritage nature of the site but is also reflective of the present.

The conceptual design work is founded upon the stone and metalwork detailing of the existing heritage lamp standards, railings, walls and architecture. This historical language is used as the starting point for the form, scale and detailing of all the prototypes. An important part of the design work included the analysis of the physical site conditions and programming considerations. Each furniture piece is conceived to address specific site locations, opportunities, events and uses. The initial concepts proposed a family of site furnishings coordinated in materials and strategy. Where possible furniture is integrated into the structure of the landscape, mounted on walls or stone bases through strap-Iike connections reminiscent of the heritage elements. Seating proposals provide a variety of scales, from individual lounge seats placed to take in the river views to lightweight stacking chairs for larger events to freestanding benches for groups. The more object-like pieces such as bollards, drinking fountains, receptacles and bicycle stands are kept simple and designed to blend into the site.

From the preliminary design proposals, nine pieces were selected for prototyping:

  • Bench A -single-sided bench drinking fountain -freestanding
  • Bench B -double-sided bench bicycle stand -multiple unit
  • Chair D -lounge seating metal bollard -pedestrian and security models
  • Chair E -lightweight stacking chair low granite bollard

Anodized aluminum is used as the main structural component while sandblasted stainless steel is introduced in areas that require additional strength. The metal finishes are matte, subtle greys that complement the warm sandstone found throughout the site. Native White Ash is treated with a wash of grey and used for all seating surfaces. Typically, the individual wood and metal components are mechanically fastened to ensure strength and an aesthetic more refined than that achieved by welding.

Granite is used for the hand-crafted low bollard as a means of combating salted winter conditions and potential traffic mishaps. After a trial year of on-site exposure to varying weather conditions and intense human use, the designs will be modified as necessary for the fabrication process.

Role of the Landscape Architect

There were three Landscape Architects involved in this project. One represented the client, administered the work and assisted in securing approvals. The other two are members of the prime consulting firm acting in the role of principal-in-charge and project landscape architect. The landscape architects were responsible for the conceptual design and design development of all the prototype pieces. Industrial designers were an important component of the team providing expertise on materials, costing, ergonomics and fabrication and assisting the landscape architects in the process of translating conceptual ideas to highly detailed physical form.

Special Factors

Once fabricated and installed, this site furniture will replace the various disparate pieces of existing furniture scattered throughout the site. It is expected that these new elements will be readable as a family rather unlike their predecessors which were ill-matched and frequently damaged by climate extremes, over use and constant relocation. During the concept phase issues of durability, maintenance and security were carefully considered. All of the pieces are designed for ease of assembly, installation and replacement. Materials were chosen to address a climate of extreme temperature differences, salt, snow removal and to ensure human comfort throughout the year. Maintenance staffs were important contributors to this process.


The prototyping for Parliament Hill is the first coordinated approach to site furnishings on the site since its inception. These designs evolved from this particular landscape and will be the only location in the country where Canadians can observe and experience them. Although unmistakably contemporary, the new site furniture is respectful of the design intentions and historic detailing of the original designers. As a precedent, this completed work will provide a basis and guidance for the future works of the broader Parliament Hill Landscape Plan.



2001 Award Winners
Press Release
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