Nathaniel Maguire

Nathaniel Maguire

Nanaimo students’ parklet design praised

NANAIMO – Creation finds home on street in Qualicum Beach.

A parklet designed by local high school students as part of an architectural conference in June found a permanent place in Qualicum Beach.

Christopher Dwerryhouse and Nathaniel Maguire, from Aspengrove School in Lantzville, won third place – as well as the People’s Choice Award – in the Royal Architechtural Institute of Canada’s Festival of Architecture with their parklet design. They took home $300 for their team, plus $500 for their school.

Three parking spots on Commercial Street were transformed into mini-parks or “parklets” with seating and plants for public enjoyment. They were the three finalists’ projects of a high school student design competition, sponsored by the institute.

In their design, curving white planters surrounded a welcoming outdoor room that opened to pedestrians on the sidewalk.

Flowers and grasses reinforced the sense of enclosure. Two booths with round tables and semi-circular benches nestled into the curved walls and offered spaces for small groups. A long bench flanking the sidewalk invited passers-by to pause.

The jury praised “the contrast in material from outside to inside and the rippling, organic shape of the interior space.” Aspengrove’s parklet is now located in downtown Qualicum Beach.

First place went to students from St. Michael’s University in Victoria, while second went to students from Gulf Island Secondary School on Salt Spring Island.

One of the goals of the competition was to engage the community and raise awareness about the importance of public space.

“We wanted to advocate for architecture to the public and to make real connections to the community as part of our 2016 RAIC festival theme ‘Connexions,’” said architect David Poiron, part of the local festival organizing committee.

The students had help from the community with donations of materials, construction by VIU and mentorship by architects.