Committed to coordinating research efforts and mobilizing knowledge that will improve the troubling health of Lake Simcoe, ReWilding Lake Simcoe approached DoUC to lead their newly created Design Lab. In cooperation with ReWilding’s overall mandate of improving the quality of the lake and of life in the adjacent communities, the Design Lab was established to ask, how can we generate ideas for new public spaces designed to facilitate the transfer of water knowledge and contribute to the social fabric of the community?
ReWilding is a central player in the orchestration of a new community-focused approach for the health of Lake Simcoe. In our role as design leads for the Lab, DoUC had the opportunity to interact and partner with numerous local governments, community groups, environmental experts and other stakeholders. We designed engagement events to provide an open, energetic and collaborative environment for brainstorming ideas and developing strategies, as well as creating the final physical design of the spaces. Our goal for these activities was to build a unified vision within and between the many communities who share in the responsibility for, and benefits of, Lake Simcoe.
The goal of the pilot project for ReWilding and DoUC was to engage local stakeholders in the co-design of a new public park at Pine Beach in Keswick, Ontario. We created and facilitated participatory activities at all stages, building an open and iterative process between the stakeholders and design team as we worked towards a final plan. The outcome of this process was a series of projects ranging from shoreline naturalization to the creation of a new permeable surface disguised as a town square. DoUC reviewed these various plans and developed a cohesive concept for the physical space, designing site plans to incorporate the ideas in a holistic way.
The Pine Beach project, completed in early 2015, was used to gain traction in neighbouring communities, spurring similar initiatives at Centennial Park in Kawartha Lakes, the harbour in Beaverton and The Link in Sutton. The key to the successful implementation of all the ReWilding projects was the involvement of stakeholders throughout the design process and the simultaneous focus on development of both the physical space and social programming. This approach ensured that when projects were completed, the community would not only support and use the space, but also feel a sense of investment in the future of Pine Beach.