landscape: 13 acres competition

The 13-acres international design competition challenged designers to explore the schoolyard, school and site rejuvenation as place ecological awareness, expression, and education. School and community gardens, reclaiming wetlands and water retention were part of the primary program for the Wet Site. The school’s architecture is based on a modular system designed by Erno Goldfinger in England during the 1930s, and was a given to all participants.

The proposal transforms the wet site into a wonder of wetlands; an exploration complex designed for maximum diversity and discovery. With abundant hands-on educational and recreational opportunities, the visitors are welcome to observe a variety of species in refuge and to experience the healing, cleansing potential of the amphibious and aviary wetland landscapes. The site is developed in three large regions: the upper grounds, the centre school grounds and the lower grounds.

The upper grounds accommodate the drier activities, the playing fields, the amphitheatre, and an extensive gardening space. In the center the school is the mediation and filter between upper and lower grounds. Its north face with stepping stone marsh collects and cleanses roof water from school and runoff and storm water from upper fields through a slow moving series of bio-filtration treatment areas. The slop between the stepping-stones and the school are berms and stairs connected to the green roof of the school. They are ultimate resting areas overlooking the playing fields. The schools south face meets the lower grounds with “forest fingers” undulating around outdoor classrooms. The first steps between the ecological theories in classroom and the wetlands of wonders are through the forest fingers and the tree houses at the tip of the fingers.

The lower ground zone is the primary wetland park complex designed as a productive ecosystem with great habitat and native plant value with particular emphasis on reviving the estuary. The wet “pod” elements structure the parkland into distinct but overlapping wetland conditions that are meant to be subject to succession. The waters from this zone and the upper areas filter down to the final destination the regeneration pond and natural swimming pool. At the very end is the pure water stilt greenhouse, a micro-ecology biology centre with a demonstration solar aquatics system for indoor water treatment. This destination is an orientation space for public education, a gift shop and restrooms.

This project was awarded an honorable mention and published by University of BC Centre for Lanscape Research in Schoolyard Park: 13-Acres International Design Competition by Susan Herrington,

Location: East Clayton, Surrey, B.C.
Client: District of East Clayton
Collaboration with: Rob Kastelic
End of project: 2001