Owner: City of Vancouver
Creekside Paddling Centre
Located in near the urban core of Vancouver, this floating facility serves the huge demand for public padding programs in False Creek by providing instruction, boats and equipment for public use, and hosting paddling competitions – including North America’s largest Dragon Boat Festival. The concept – a linear array of floating modules – addresses the principle design problems of the project in a single gesture, including issues of: context, site, program, budget, schedule and sustainability.
This remarkably small paddling centre handles the largest volume of paddlers on the continent, accommodating the moorage of 20 dragon boats in boat slips, and storage of over 50 smaller watercraft and equipment. During peak use, upwards of 1,200 dragon boaters launch from the site (400 at a time) during each practice session, with the interim periods occupied by users of smaller craft, and community outreach programs. Locating the program space on the water, sharing support space with the community centre, and calibrating the design’s size and arrangement to the suit the particular functional needs of paddlers has lead to effective use of precious waterfront. Arraying the program across the site in small modules handles the volume of users and divides the cohort into manageable groups. The flexibility and ability to grow, inherent to modularity, will allow the paddling programs to grow and evolve.
The site is surrounded by the new condominiums of Olympic Village and fronts both Creekside Community Centre and the popular seawall trail system; Thus, an emphasis on maintaining public access to views of the water was paramount – and achieved by breaking the mass of the facility into a series of smaller components. Expressed as floating lanterns, the sheds are intended to enhance the public’s experience.
A modular approach also improved construction speed and efficiency, and reduced the environmental impact. Prefabrication of units off-site allowed quick installation during the brief time frame where fish spawning is not compromised. Combined with a layout that does not disturb the sensitive intertidal zone, and an anchoring system that does not disturb the ocean floor, the project mitigates the impact of construction on the sensitive marine ecosystem.