A “community porch” in downtown Vancouver’s dense urban core at Smithe and Richards is small in size (less than one acre), but it is huge in community impact. In what was formerly a parking lot, the park has been designed by DIALOG to significantly improve the neighbourhood’s livability. It serves the more than 25,000 people who live and work within a five-minute walk of the park. The park includes a community plaza that will host events, an elevated bridge that zig-zags across the park offering multiple vantage points. A Kafka’s cafe offers food and drinks on-site and seating and lighting installations activate the space.
Several park elements feature a zig-zag pattern that inspired the design of the Park playground. Three towers appear wrapped loosely in a ribbon that connects the towers both visually and functionally. The towers have multiple points of entry and egress, including two winding slides. The tower cladding is gapped to offer views in all directions. It also ensures transparency for caregiver supervision.
The three towers are intended for older children; on the other side of the elevated bridge, a lower-level junior ribbon climber is intended for younger playground visitors. The ribbon climber has spaces for hide-and-seek underneath the structures and varied lower level climbing options, including ropes and flexform, for small hands and feet.
A slide takes advantage of the topographical changes of the site. Rope and log play extend up the hill.
In June 2022, the park was gifted a new name by the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.
From the City of Vancouver:
“….the new park at Smithe and Richards, on the unceded territories of Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, has become the first Vancouver park to be gifted a name in both the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh languages.
sθәqәlxenәm ts’exwts’áxwi7, meaning ‘rainbow’, was chosen by the Nations because the land where the park now sits was once forested with large trees and had many sources of water, including a marsh where the sun and mist would form rainbows. The name also reflects the bridging of the diverse people and communities the park brings together and is a nod to the vibrant LGBTQIA2S+ history of the area.”
To learn how to pronounce the park’s name, view this video.
Vancouver Sun article about sθәqәlxenәm ts’exwts’áxwi7 (Rainbow Park): Making Vancouver playgrounds a little less safe, for the kids’ sake