Spadina Wavedeck

Designers: West8, DTAH | City: Toronto, ON | Project Type: revitalization, waterfront, habitat
Date Visited:
Location: Foot of Spadina Avenue on the south side of Queens Quay
Size: 630 sq. m (approx. 6,780 sq. ft)
Cost: 4.4 million CDN
Official Opening Date: September 2008

Spadina Wavedeck is an undulating wooden platform that overlooks Lake Ontario and stitches together major public spaces along the waterfront such as HTO park and the Toronto Music Garden. The first of four West8 wavedecks, Spadina Wavedeck spearheaded the movement towards a more interactive and modern Toronto waterfront.

Formerly a narrow slip of sidewalk along the water, the wavedeck spans 630 square meters of timber-lined public space  (58.9m in length and 10.7m in width). The wavedeck consists of 3,564 deck boards milled from Ipe wood and glulam Coastal yellow cedar.

I’ve always found the work of West8 fascinating, though I’ve barely visited a handful of their projects in person. Founded in 1987 by the Dutch architect Adriaan Geuze, this landscape architecture and urban planning firm has since been credited for “redefining” the discipline on their own contemporary terms.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve never been to Europe that I’ve romanticized Dutch design, but for me, Dutch design and landscape architecture have become synonymous with high-end design that’s successful, creative, whimsical and wonderfully thought-provoking. After all, the Netherlands is known for many design greats: Rem Koolhaas, one of the world’s most influential architects; cycling-integrated cities; and that large expanse of protected green space, known as the “Green Heart,” which undoubtedly shaped modern Dutch landscape design and planning.

As characteristic of West8, which prefers “emptiness” over over-programming, the wavedeck is very flexible in design, making the space easily adaptable to various interpretations. The stairs, for instance, can be used as an informal amphitheatre space to offer different vantage points over the water.

Beneath the deck boards, an aquatic habitat lights up at night with four glowing green LEDs. West8 created a 64- square-meter aquatic habitat to integrate the underwater habitat with the ecology of the adjacent Spadina wetlands.

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