In the midst of the city’s noise, traffic, density, and hard surfaces, Gardiner Green materializes: a cool, lush retreat. This unexpected enclave contrasts with Toronto’s lively waterfront parks, while providing a gateway to them.
From the outside, Gardiner Green appears to be a patch of forest. Like a green beacon, its closely spaced trees draw us toward it. From the inside, the perimeter’s rolling topography screens out traffic and offers a hiatus from urban life.
To accentuate this immersive quality, the planting exaggerates a forest’s vertical layers: a lofty upper canopy and lacy understory of fine textures and blooms, shading a sparkling green carpet.
Groupings of outdoor rooms provide places to stop and chat, eat lunch, or simply relax. This is primarily a community park for everyday use, but for special events, it can accommodate large crowds.
Water features take various forms in Gardiner Green: a reflecting pool, a central misted zone, and a drinking trough for dogs.
History and playful transformation intersect here. Like petrified trees, the eight concrete bents that previously supported a now-demolished Gardiner Expressway exit ramp remain in place. These vehicular infrastructure fragments have been repurposed as community infrastructure. Integrated with new ring-shaped elements, each bent has acquired its own identity: swings hang from the tallest; water ‘leaks’ from another into the reflecting pool; one is a glowing lamp; another, the towering centrepiece of a circular table.
Subsumed within the greenness of Gardiner Green, these massive infrastructural remnants acquire a new context and new meaning.
PLANT’s integrated team of architects and landscape architects is known for public-realm projects such as the Governor General’s Medal in Architecture-winning Nathan Phillips Square Revitalization in Toronto and the Canadian Firefighters Memorial Park in Ottawa. Mandaworks is a contemporary design studio engaged in architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, and comprehensive planning. Its ongoing projects include Stockholm’s 15-hectare Royal Neighbour master plan for transforming a former coal quay into mixed-use community. Mandaworks is on one of five international design teams shortlisted for the City of Montreal’s Place des Montréalaises park.