Braiding Waters encourages a deeper connection between nature and community, closing the gap between lived experiences. The story-centered design is a harmonious braiding that links the past, present, and future with a tapestry of ecological integrity, cultural reverence, and inclusive vitality, centering storytelling in placemaking by exploring the connections between place, stories, and belonging.
W’s scheme, Braiding Waters: Navigating Stories of the Land for our Common Future, blends the natural geomorphology of the Bow River with the ongoing Indigenous history of Treaty 7 nations to weave a tapestry uniting the past, present, and future, with ecological reverence, cultural celebration, and community vitality. The linear segment of the riverfront is conceptualized in three core areas: First, the Village converts an existing block-wide parking lot into a new civic campus with a market, event, and conference space, and an Elder’s Circle for ceremonial meadow burning. Strengthened connections to existing waterfront uses, the Beach and the Wave connect the existing waterfront to the city through the new urban forest district. Second, Ledges Traverse, located along the steepest section of the river’s edge, features Blackfoot Crossing Park, a new community park with play spaces, an expanded Bowfort Dog Run, and a central step down to the water at the point of a historic river crossing for the Blackfoot people. In addition, a new habitat island is created by carving a planted inlet into the shoreline, pulling the river, and its ecology further into the city. Third, the Foothills, a new active and sports-focused area nestled within a tangle of highway and light rail infrastructure, improves connectivity between the waterfront and neighborhoods to the west by offering a clear, accessible route across infrastructural barriers, while making places to play, exercise, and relax together.
W was one of five teams invited to participate in the RiverWalk West Competition. W’s submission was done in collaboration with Tamara Lee Anne Cardinal, Full Circle Indigenous Planning, WSP, Green Shield Ecology, MIG, MP&P, and Altus Group.
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