City of London

London, Ontario

Arthur Lierman Landscape Architecture
Parterre Landscape Design Associates

The City of London design guidelines for this highly visible gateway corner leading into downtown London stipulated that it be a transitional and temporary civic space ‘installation’; not a parkette. The ‘installation’ was to furnish a Forest City theme employing modular elements that could be reutilized after the expected lifespan of the space expires in 5 – 7 years, have no seating, and to be visually engaging and relatively maintenance-free year-round.

A collection of familiar downtown fixtures, including the white ‘flower pot’ urns and metal trees, were refurbished and arranged in overlapping grids, providing a shifting sense of movement through the space and establishing a structured order. Thirteen metal trees, representing southern Ontario tree species and embodying a Forest City reference, were painted cobalt blue and organized into three distinct Ontario tree zones to form a legible and compelling grove that anchors the space. The white urns are festooned with seasonal displays throughout the year and during the evening hours the powered urns glow illuminating and animating the civic space that invite interaction and engage the public realm.

Two lime green artificial grass panels enliven the ground plane by sharply contrasting against the metal trees and the dark natural tones of the hardscape surfaces. A permeable black granite chips and dust surface wraps along the building backdrop edges creating an informal and secondary spatial dimension. Large black urns with sculpted evergreen trees frame the north, east and south sides spatially delineating vehicular accessible limits to accommodate ‘pop-up’ events. Passing through the space are two converging paved hallways which employ pedestrian ‘desire lines’ that bisect and link the space and edges.

A foyer composed of three circular mild steel planters defines the Wellington Streetscape and reinforces the gateway route. The steel planters provide human scale and visual richness afforded by their mounded form and rusty patina with permanent and seasonal landscapes. A large circular mild steel planter positioned off-kilter at the southeast corner is bisected by a diagonal hallway that merges and intimately interacts with the landscape.