Underpass Park is located beneath several existing highway overpasses in Toronto’s downtown. The otherwise forgotten and derelict space has been transformed into an active public park, providing diverse recreational and social opportunities while connecting new and existing local neighborhoods and nearby parks. This unique public space is part of Waterfront Toronto’s revitalization efforts of the celebrated new West Don Lands neighborhood. At a time when urban open-space resources continue to dwindle and city populations and densities increase, taking advantage of unexpected opportunities, such as the underbelly of an overpass, has proven to be visionary and essential for the overall health and vibrancy of this area of the city. This award says that even underpasses can become great parks. It’s ASLA’s hope other cities will follow suit.
As such, ASLA has released its first virtual reality (VR) viewing experience to the public, featuring exclusive footage of Underpass Park. The ASLA VR video takes viewers on an exciting journey through this unique park, guided by the park’s designer Greg Smallenberg, FASLA, principal at PFS Studio, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. If you own a Samsung Gear VR headset and compatible Samsung phone, go to Samsung Gear via the Oculus App and search for “Underpass Park” or “ASLA” to find the video.
Virtual reality takes video to the next level: As you move your phone or VR headset, you control your experience in the landscape. It more closely mimics the experience of exploring a place in person. In part, it recreates that sense of discovery one gets in real life. In the example of Underpass Park, many will never have the opportunity to visit the park in person but, with ASLA’s video, viewers can get a good sense of what’s it like to be there.
Photos: ASLA 2016 ProfessionAL General Desigh Award of Excellence. Underpass Park/Tom Arban