Corktown Common Don River Park

Toronto, Canada

With the transformation of a brownfield train yard along the Don River in Toronto into a multiuse communal space, renaturalized with woodlands, meadows and aquatic plants, a regenerative ecology is set in motion. On what was previously post-industrial wasteland, planted spaces, by Michael Van Valkenburgh Landscape Architects, exist harmoniously beside playground splash pads and the shade pavilion by Maryann Thompson Architects. 

At the highest point of the park the pavilion stands as a central focal point. The pavilion, which contains public restrooms, a community kitchen with communal tables, a community fireplace with its associated indoor/outdoor gathering space, and a ranger office, offers shade to the playground and splash pool under its large, soaring roofs. The pavilion’s segmented and folded roofs allow diffused light to enter mysteriously between the forms. Translucent moveable walls can be closed to provide protection from wind and driving snow. Power for the pavilion comes from solar panels, mounted on the south face of the fireplace volume.

The pavilion sits atop a 12-foot-tall undulating landform which caps the industrial site, providing elevated topography to the park and serving as a flood control infrastructure to protect the city beyond. The entire site is a large natural water treatment plant. A park-wide underground drainage system collects stormwater from the folded Pavilion roofs which capture and direct rain through waterfall-like scuppers into a park-wide underground storage reservoir. This reservoir discharges into the marsh which functions both as a tertiary treatment system, a respite for migratory birds, and home to waterfowl. The marsh-filtered water is used for site irrigation.