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Chinese-inspired public garden and park proposed for New Westminster

Bc7f7efb7f14384003cf51259b35ebe3?s=96&d=mm&r=g
Kenneth Chan Mar 06, 2018 8:56 pm 1,063

A new public park owned and operated by the City of New Westminster will celebrate and pay tribute to the municipality’s early Chinese-Canadian community as part of an ongoing Chinese reconciliation process.

The municipal government is considering a park and garden design at 824 Agnes Street in the downtown area – about two blocks away from New Westminster Station – that acknowledges the property’s Chinese history, as it was formerly the location of the Chinese ‘Old Man’s Home’ built in 1905.

The 8,600-sq-ft mid-block site, previously owned by the Chinese Benevolent Association (CBA), acted as an informal community centre for New Westminster’s Chinese community, with usages such as a school, hospital, and residential care facility for seniors.

824 Agnes Street New Westminster

History of the ‘Old Man’s House’ at 824 Agnes Street. (City of New Westminster)

However, in 1979 just before the CBA disbanded, the site was transferred to the municipality, and the heritage building was subsequently demolished due to disrepair and vandalism.

In recent years, the property has been used as a temporary off-leash dog park, which will be relocated to another nearby site once construction begins on the new purpose-built park.

While the City is leading the design process for the new park, funding for construction – about $1.1 million – is being provided by Jago Development Inc. as a community amenity contribution for its proposed residential tower redevelopment at 810 Agnes Street, which is immediately north of the proposed park site.

810 Agnes Street New Westminster

Layout of the proposed tower at 810 Agnes Street and the adjacent future public park in New Westminster. (IBI Group Architects / Jago Development Inc.)

810 Agnes Street New Westminster

Artistic rendering of the redevelopment at 810 Agnes Street, New Westminster. (IBI Group Architects / Jago Development Inc.)

Additionally, the redevelopment’s western edge with the park could potentially include 3,500 sq. ft. of City-owned indoor community space for uses such as recreational programming or retail.

Early design concepts for the park and garden space by local landscape architectural firm Hapa Collaborative include utilizing concepts inspired by classical Chinese garden design principles, such as the design of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden in downtown Vancouver.

The design, using high-quality materials, will also “tell the story of the site” with the creative integration of text and images and “employ metaphor to connect the site’s history to the universal struggles of discrimination and reconciliation.”

All of this is to be balanced by feng shui.

Currently, three different park design concepts are being considered:

Concept 1: The Porch

  • Moveable interpretive ‘accordion’ screens
  • Seat step areas for gathering
  • Central flexible open space with feature weeping willow
  • Runnel runs through the space to connect the three terraces
  • Rectangular forms hide and reveal special moments within the park
  • Shared community table to provide interactive opportunities
824 Agnes Street New Westminster

Proposed concept for the future park at 824 Agnes Street, New Westminster. (City of New Westminster)

824 Agnes Street New Westminster

Proposed concept for the future park at 824 Agnes Street, New Westminster. (City of New Westminster)

Concept 2: Lifted Veils

  • Moveable interpretive screens that are transparent/perforated to hide and reveal views into different parts of the park
  • Indoor/outdoor seat step areas for gathering
  • Central flexible open space with feature lighting and tree
  • Games plaza at the edge of the park where it meets Victoria Street
  • Angular forms hide and reveal special moments with the park
824 Agnes Street New Westminster

Proposed concept for the future park at 824 Agnes Street, New Westminster. (City of New Westminster)

824 Agnes Street New Westminster

Proposed concept for the future park at 824 Agnes Street, New Westminster. (City of New Westminster)

Concept 3: The Garden Path

  • Dominant circulation path as the main interpretive feature
  • Central garden with three smaller terraces/platforms, each to represent the essential elements in feng shui
  • Bamboo and wood screens for layered effect
  • Curvilinear movement through space
  • Central water feature to provide a focal point
  • Curvilinear community table to create indoor and outdoor connection
824 Agnes Street New Westminster

Proposed concept for the future park at 824 Agnes Street, New Westminster. (City of New Westminster)

824 Agnes Street New Westminster

Proposed concept for the future park at 824 Agnes Street, New Westminster. (City of New Westminster)

The municipal government says the design of the park is being created in conjunction with various stakeholders such as the Canadians for Reconciliation Society, Chinese Benevolent Society of Vancouver, Chinese Canadian National Council, New Westminster Chinese Society, New Westminster Multiculturalism Advisory Committee, and the New Westminster Downtown Resident’s Association.

The park design and consultation process is also being funded by the developer.

A preferred design for the park will be released later this spring for further public consideration.

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Bc7f7efb7f14384003cf51259b35ebe3?s=96&d=mm&r=g
Kenneth Chan
National Features Editor at Daily Hive, the evolution of Vancity Buzz. He covers local architecture, urban issues, politics, business, retail, economic development, transportation and infrastructure, and the travel industry. Kenneth is also a Co-Founder of New Year's Eve Vancouver. Connect with him at kenneth[at]dailyhive.com

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