Jackson Sweet

Park designs on downtown Nanaimo street challenge high school students

NANAIMO - Three new parklets were installed on Commercial Street in downtown Nanaimo Wednesday.

Take a stroll on Commercial Street this week and you’ll find less parking than normal.

That’s because three new parklets have been installed on the downtown street as part of Royal Architectural Institute of Canada’s Festival of Architecture, which runs until Saturday (June 11) in Nanaimo.

The new parklets were each designed by high school students from Aspengrove School, Saint Michaels University School in Victoria and Gulf Islands Secondary School on Salt Spring Island and are part of a competition organized by the Vancouver Island chapter of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.

The competition saw more than 30 schools from across Vancouver Island compete against each other with Aspengrove, St. Mike’s and Gulf Islands becoming the top three finalists. The parklets were constructed with the help of Vancouver Island University’s carpentry program.

Aspengrove School parklet designers Christopher Dwerryhouse and Nathaniel Maguire said they spent roughly eight months working non-stop to create an “urban oasis.”

“We had to make a smaller-scale physical model and that was really tough. Due to the natural curves it was really tough to make out of cardboard, so we had to go for a 3-D printing job and we ran into a lot of issues with that,” Dwerryhouse said.

Their parklet features wood finishing, seating and a variety of plant life.

“We were trying to go for something simple that blends the natural environment with the urban environment,” Dwerryhouse said.

Meanwhile the team for Gulf Islands Secondary faced some slightly unique challenges of their own when it came to their parklet.

Designed by students Stuart Hambrook, Jackson Sweet and Patrick Little, the GISS parklet was constructed with cedar and includes plants and multiple seating areas.

“Our goal was to reflect on the natural environment in Nanaimo with the cedar, the maple and the live edge,” Hambrook said. “We are going for an awareness with our background in the forest industry and the culture with the First Nations.”

During the construction portion, the Gulf Islands students said their parklet was accidentally run over by a truck while it was being built and had also been vandalized.

“[VIU] let us know that a truck had run over it and that some people had ripped off our benches and stolen them,” Sweet said.

Another challenge for the team was Sweet and Hambrook both went on foreign exchange trips to Europe for a number of months during the design phase.

“It was kind of awkward because there was a bit of a delay with trying to get messages to each other. I would be waking up and they would be going to bed,” Little said. “So, it was trying to make sure that we got the designs in on time.”

The team members said that they hope people enjoy their parklet and the concept of a parklet is a great idea.

“It’s great to have in a city,” Hambrook said. “It invites people in to connect with their community.”

The winner of the contest will receive  $900, plus $2,000 for their school.

Take a stroll on Commercial Street this week and you’ll find less parking than normal.

That’s because three new parklets have been installed on the downtown street as part of Royal Architectural Institute of Canada’s Festival of Architecture, which runs until Saturday (June 11) in Nanaimo.

The new parklets were each designed by high school students from Aspengrove School, Saint Michaels University School in Victoria and Gulf Islands Secondary School on Salt Spring Island and are part of a competition organized by the Vancouver Island chapter of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.

The competition saw more than 30 schools from across Vancouver Island compete against each other with Aspengrove, St. Mike’s and Gulf Islands becoming the top three finalists. The parklets were constructed with the help of Vancouver Island University’s carpentry program.

Aspengrove School parklet designers Christopher Dwerryhouse and Nathaniel Maguire said they spent roughly eight months working non-stop to create an “urban oasis.”

“We had to make a smaller-scale physical model and that was really tough. Due to the natural curves it was really tough to make out of cardboard, so we had to go for a 3-D printing job and we ran into a lot of issues with that,” Dwerryhouse said.

Their parklet features wood finishing, seating and a variety of plant life.

“We were trying to go for something simple that blends the natural environment with the urban environment,” Dwerryhouse said.

Meanwhile the team for Gulf Islands Secondary faced some slightly unique challenges of their own when it came to their parklet.

Designed by students Stuart Hambrook, Jackson Sweet and Patrick Little, the GISS parklet was constructed with cedar and includes plants and multiple seating areas.

“Our goal was to reflect on the natural environment in Nanaimo with the cedar, the maple and the live edge,” Hambrook said. “We are going for an awareness with our background in the forest industry and the culture with the First Nations.”

During the construction portion, the Gulf Islands students said their parklet was accidentally run over by a truck while it was being built and had also been vandalized.

“[VIU] let us know that a truck had run over it and that some people had ripped off our benches and stolen them,” Sweet said.

Another challenge for the team was Sweet and Hambrook both went on foreign exchange trips to Europe for a number of months during the design phase.

“It was kind of awkward because there was a bit of a delay with trying to get messages to each other. I would be waking up and they would be going to bed,” Little said. “So, it was trying to make sure that we got the designs in on time.”

The team members said that they hope people enjoy their parklet and the concept of a parklet is a great idea.

“It’s great to have in a city,” Hambrook said. “It invites people in to connect with their community.”

The winner of the contest will receive  $900, plus $2,000 for their school.

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