Rouge Crest Park

The design of Rouge Crest Park was inspired by patterns in nature. These patterns are seamlessly integrated using a variety of materials and techniques to transform outdoor “play rooms” into uniquely engaging spaces. Beautiful birch bark patterns, grass blades, snowflakes, starbursts, snail shells and pebbles provide an opportunity for visitors to reflect on the smaller things in life and nature that so often go unnoticed.

The park, which is located in Richmond Hill, Ontario, uses the concept of “patterns in nature” to create a lively and engaging setting which balances social and ecological benefits. Beautiful patterns incorporated throughout the park infuse a unique quality into the space. The sea shell is represented in a spiral hill feature, walkways simulate birch tree trunk patterns, the surface of the water play area echoes the ripples found in sand at the shore, the zinc cladding on the pump house represents fish scales, benches are either embossed with honeycomb patterns, shaped like waves or act as snowflakes drifting between groves of trees.

The pattern design theme defines the park, provides cohesion and reinforces a unique sense of place for local residents and visitors. The concept also uniquely focuses on bi-directional scaling of stimuli, taking big things and making them small and small things and making them big, with the goal of providing park visitors the opportunity to notice and connect with ecology. For example, pathways have transformed into giant birch trunks; movement along the pathways akin to scaling the tree’s bark, tiny snowflakes have grown into giant benches, steel fences and their shadows reference scaled up plants and microscopic cells and the rays of the sun are represented in tree grates shrinking both light and the cosmos under the shade of a tree.

The park delights in its stimulation of the senses and its overall philosophy is consistent with the quote by naturalist John Burroughs, which is carved into a granite bench at the top of the spiral hill: “I go to nature to be soothed and healed and have my senses put in order”.

A high standard of planning and innovative design contributes to placemaking, quality aesthetics; accessibility; versatility and environmental stewardship. Play features are well-organized to create seamless transitions between “play rooms”. Innovative design is achieved by integrating site elements unified by the “Patterns in Nature” design theming and utilizing pragmatic solutions to deliver real environmental benefits.

This park improves quality of life, encouraging social and community connection for residents by facilitating increased activity and group play/exercise. Rouge Crest’s versatile layout supports multiple recreation and leisure activities encouraging people of all ages to be more active thereby also optimizing the park’s usability. The public space is inclusive and has something for everyone, as a wide variety of leisure activities and play features are supported in the park.