Register: 03/30/2017, Submit: 03/30/2017, Eligibility: Experts from architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, industrial design, contemporary art and other related fields; individually, teams, Fee: Free, Awards: Winner 5,000 CAD + 50,000 CAD for the design, build and install, People’s Choice Award 1,000 CAD, 2 Honorable Mentions
Every great city has a dynamic public square where people of all ages gather to play and celebrate. For the City of Victoria that place is Centennial Square, in the heart of Victoria’s vibrant downtown. The City of Victoria, in partnership with the Downtown Victoria Business Association, is seeking creative solutions to integrate play into Centennial Square this year. Victoria is the capital city of the Province of British Columbia. Located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, the City has stunning water and mountain vistas, unique heritage architecture, a thriving arts, culture and technology scene, and hosts over three million visitors annually as one of the top tourist destinations in Canada.
Victoria is located within the traditional territory of the Lekwungen People, who are represented today by the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations. Lekwungen refers to the people and the original language of this land, and a culture that has been here for thousands of years. The year 2017 marks Canada’s 150th sesquicentennial, which will be recognized with celebrations and events across the country. The City of Victoria has adopted ‘2017: A Year of Reconciliation’ as a theme to guide local celebrations and events throughout the year.
The City of Victoria has a population of 83,000 people, of which approximately 3,000 live in the downtown core. The number of residents living downtown is forecast to increase dramatically; population projections anticipate an additional 10,000 residents over the next 30 years. Recognizing that there are currently few opportunities for families with children living in the downtown core, the City is seeking innovative and creative solutions to integrate opportunities for play into the everyday fabric of the downtown public realm.
Centennial Square is located in Downtown Victoria. The square is approximately 7,600sq m (82,000 sq ft.) and is bordered by Victoria’s heritage City Hall, the offices of the Capital Regional District, and the McPherson Playhouse Theatre.
The site of the current Centennial Square has a rich history. Prior to European settlement, this site and the surrounding area was used to harvest the bark of the bitter cherry tree, which grew alongside a series of creeks that meandered through this area before draining into the ocean. In the mid-19th century, this site formed the original heart of Victoria’s historic Chinatown, which expanded to encompass six city blocks and a population of 3,000 people at its peak in the early 20th century. Today, the Chinatown district is located directly adjacent to Centennial Square and was designated a national historic site in 1995.
The current square was originally constructed in 1963, and features strong modern design character with a large distinctive fountain and curved steps. A renovation to the western half of the square (“Spirit Square”) was completed in 2009, including the addition of a covered stage area, native plantings, and First Nations Spirit Poles.
Centennial Square is one of the City’s most popular outdoor event and festival venues. On average, there are programmed activities in the square 130 days each year, ranging from food truck festivals and dance classes, to outdoor markets and concert performances. Outside of these programmed event days the square is underutilized, especially during weekdays. Increasing daily play and vibrancy while allowing the square to continue to function as a primary outdoor event venue is a key objective of this design competition.
The original portion of the square is aging, and is in need of repair and/or renovation. Concurrent to this design-build competition, the City of Victoria will be undertaking a planning exercise to guide future long-term renovations to the square. This work is anticipated to consider the future of adjacent facilities (including office space and parking structure), recommended future design changes to better support large festivals and events, mechanisms to increase daily visits to the square, and the provision of a permanent play opportunity. Lessons learned through the addition of temporary play value in the Square through this competition will be used as an input to this long-term planning exercise.
The installation must be situated within the designated site boundary. To ensure installations are movable to accommodate event set-up, designers should consider the following guidelines:
- Installations should be able to be easily dismantled using common tools and equipment (no specialized equipment such as cranes, electric lifts, etc.).
- Larger installations should be able to be dismantled into individual components/pieces so that each component or piece can be lifted and moved by two people.
- Each individual component or piece should not exceed 200lbs.
- Overall installation or individual components should be able to be moved within Centennial Square using a four wheel dolly (2’x3′ surface).
- In the event that the installation is required to be removed off-site, the overall installation or individual components should be designed to easily fit on the bed of a City of Victoria flatbed truck(s) (Max. 8′ long x 6′ wide).
- Access to power and water: 110V power and water are available on the site during installation. There will be no permanent access to power and water outside of the installation period.
- Security: 24-hour security is provided at Centennial Square. However, installations should be robust enough to not require frequent security monitoring.
- Height of Structure: Structures must comply with the B.C. Building Code standards for height. Taller structures may be required to include fall protection measures in design.
- Play safety: Design submissions should consider safe play environments, including setbacks from surrounding streets.
- Accessibility: Installations should not impede primary access points to City Hall, the parking structure, or surrounding offices.
- Durability/maintenance: Materials and finishes should be designed to withstand rain, wind, and abrasion from general use. Use of common and easily accessible materials is encouraged to enable the City of Victoria to undertake periodic repair and maintenance as required. Installations should not include vegetation.
Excluding the $5,000 (CAD) award, the total cost to the City of Victoria of the design, build and installation may not exceed the total project budget of $50,000 (CAD). Entrants with a budget exceeding this amount assume full responsibility to cover additional costs. All entrants assume liability for all costs incurred in participating in the competition. The project budget is inclusive of fees for travel and disbursements.