Seasonal Interventions

Source: Patkau Architects

Getting into the great outdoors!

In the last blog [1] we looked at the health benefits of swimming in open water, even in the coldest months of the year. There are many other seasonal health benefits that we can obtain from blue spaces. Three new case studies have been uploaded this week connected to the seasonal use of blue spaces, taking us from the coldest months where active sports are a benefit to help us get outside in the fresh air, to the warm summer months where a relaxing place to be next to the river helps us to chill out. None of these installations are permanent, each serves a purpose for part of the year before being removed.

Skating in Winnipeg

In Winnipeg, Canada the rivers freeze and under the right conditions they present the local inhabitants with an extensive open-air ice rink. Skating on frozen rivers has a long history [2] but had waned until more recently when there has been a resurgence in its popularity. Skating on a river is different to skating round and round an ice-rink and the only option in these strange times of Covid19. The groomed trails of Winnepeg bring a different river level view of the city, a view only normally possible in a boat.

Skating can be a slow mediative activity or fast competitive sport, depending on mood and activity levels [3]. Sticking to the groomed trails ensures that the risks are known as the Winnepeg trail can be open for just a few weeks or a few months depending upon the season and river conditions. Each year the municipality holds a design competition to provide shelters from the harsh Canadian winter climate for skaters on the river. Patkau architects designed skating shelters that both shelter the skaters but also responds to the weather conditions as they creaked and groaned in the wind.

The Lazy Days of Summer.

Summer in the city can be hot and stifling, especially for those workers who cannot escape the heat. As a form of respite, the Paris Plages are installed every year to bring the beach to the city for an inner-city beach vacation, during the economic low-season. Different leisure and sporting activities provide local inhabitants with a chance to both relax and be active alongside a 3km stretch of the River Seine. Rivers have multiple benefits in a city, besides a traditional conduit for boating traffic, the mediative movement of water also reduces the heat-island effect of a built up area by encouraging air flow and acting as a heat sink. The plages therefore enhances the health and well-being provided by the river, through creating improved access and facilities to enjoy a breathing space beside the cooler river.

The Beauty of Tiny Spaces.

The broad riverbank by the side of the Seine is wide enough to install beaches beside a long stretch of the river. But what happens if there is only a tiny space? The Olive Beach installation is squeezed into a small space between Gorky Park and the River Moskva in Moscow. Instead of a beach, a timber decking was installed, a playful contrast to the formal austere granite entrance to the famous Gorky Park. A solarium and showers provide shade and cooling places alongside the decking, that juts out into the river, providing ample place to relax for such a small space. The harsh winter of Moscow ensures this installation is only suitable for summer use and so the tubs of olive trees used to decorate the decking and a restaurant are packed away each year at the end of the season.

For more case studies visit our BlueProfiles page here

[1] Cold-water Swimming

[2] Long, winding history of skating on Winnipeg rivers dates to 1872

[3] The Forks river skating trail now open

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