Rendering of on-water and off-water activities that can be enjoyed.

Coal Harbour Deck


Vancouver, BC

Coal Harbour Deck envisions a new type of public space for Vancouver that re-engages with the water. This concept was displayed at the Museum of Vancouver’s Your Future City exhibition in the spring of 2016. The conceptual design is located in Coal Harbour, a former industrial site, and aims to activate the neighbourhood through a multi-use waterfront public amenity that is not quite park, pier, or pool, but a combination of all three.

While Vancouver is a famously livable city surrounded by unparalleled natural beauty, it is also one of the most densely populated and expensive urban centres in North America. While there are numerous parks, beaches and green spaces outside the city core, few public spaces exist for public gatherings in the urban centre due to limited space and high land costs. As Vancouver’s downtown continues to grow and densify, citizens are increasingly living in smaller condos, creating the need for amenities to replace the backyards, gardens, and porches common to other neighbourhoods.

The city is surrounded by water and 22 kilometers of seawall that propels people along the water's edge. But very few locations encourage Vancouverites to jump right in.

Turning to Copenhagen, another dense marine city, as inspiration, hcma developed Coal Harbour Deck, a concept that re-establishes and redefines our relationship with the water. The popular Harbour Baths—initially constructed in the early 2000’s after the Danes improved the water quality in their harbour to meet targets for safe swimming and created the beloved waterfront public amenities. More recently is the ongoing effort to clean The Seine in Paris, which will allow swimming in the river for the first time in a century. These initiatives blend both environmental and social benefit, as improved water quality leads to an immersive experience everyone can enjoy.

hcma’s proposed Coal Harbour Deck replaces an under-utilized existing public dock with a curved wooden deck nestled into a small basin in the coastline, between Vancouver’s busy convention centre and a nearby marina. The wooden deck features integrated seating and a proposed outdoor performance space. It surrounds a variety of aquatic spaces including a 25m lane swimming area, an open swimming zone and a zero-entry shallow swimming zone.

The idea has captured many imaginations, and if built, would be the first project of its kind in North America.

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