Empire Fields, the site of Hastings Park Parkour Park, is slated to open April 2015. Hastings Park Parkour Park is Canada’s first public outdoor Parkour park. PFS Studio designed this park, in collaboration with the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Parks Board, as a part of the Hastings Park Master Plan, in order to provide a playground that appeals to youth and young adults who are not involved in team sports.
Parkour, the practice of moving from one place to another using only your body to overcome obstacles along your route, originated in France a decade ago, and interest has steadily been growing in Canada. Despite the growing interest, there are only a handful of indoor parkour gyms in Canada, as municipal bylaws around safety practices present barriers for parkour gyms.
For more information and to get a sneak peek of the park click here.
The History of Hastings Park
Established in 1888, the same year as Stanley Park, Hastings Park is Vancouver’s second largest park. Over time, its forests and streams were paved over and a number of exhibition buildings and recreation facilities were built on the site. By the 1980s, most of the park was paved and rarely used outside of the annual PNE Fair days except for events in the arena buildings.
PFS Studio has a long relationship with Hastings Park and efforts to bring it back as a multi-use and green park. Over the past 30 years, PFS has completed numerous designs of Hastings Park. PFS’ involvement started under Mayor Gordon Campbell who struck a task force to envision a revival of the park focused on festivals.
A few years later, through the advocacy of key people in the community, a process called the Greening of Hastings Park was initiated with the intent to move Playland and the PNE (Pacific National Exhibition) to a different site in the suburbs and restore a green park around the Hastings Park racetrack. PFS was engaged by the citizens group and the Park Board to design the park to a program that had been established through an intensive community consultation. The resulting Master Plan was adopted unanimously by Council and Park Board and several phases of its implementation were built. The new phases completed in the 1990s were the Sanctuary, the first stage of daylighting the historic Renfrew Creek and a natural refuge in the City, and the Italian Rain Gardens, a formal garden reflective of Vancouver’s rainy climate and celebrating the role of Italian immigrants in the east Vancouver community.
The search for an alternate site for Playland and the PNE was not successful and the Province deeded Hastings Park back to the City. A new Master Plan was needed to balance the continued greening of the park with retention and expansion of Playland and the PNE. PFS was engaged to lead a multidisciplinary team that worked with community groups and the public to produce the 2010 Hastings Park / PNE Master Plan.
PFS has been part of the implementation of the 2010 Hastings Park / PNE Master Plan. Under PFS’ direction, Empire Fields has been reinstated after its use as a temporary stadium for the BC Lions and the Plateau Sports Park, adjacent to the fields, now houses a variety of youth oriented spaces, including a parkour park and a family oriented children’s play area. The combination of these spaces provides activity options for families and visitors of all ages.
Photography Credit: Jennifer Gauthier, For Metro