Regent Park Aquatic Centre
Client : City of Toronto
Area : 28,000 sf
Program : 25m Lap Pool, Leisure Pool, Spa Pool, Slide, Tarzan Rope, Diving Boards, Multipurpose Community Room
Completion : September 2012
Located in downtown Toronto, Regent Park is Canada’s oldest and largest social housing project, built in the late 1940’s. The community has historically been viewed as a transitional community for new immigrants, but due to social and physical planning ills, it has contributed to the concentration of a socially marginalized population. 41% of the population living in Regent Park are under 18, and over 70% of the population lives below the low-income cut-off rate.
In 2005, the 12-year Regent Park Revitalization program began to redevelop the 69-acre community to be a vibrant mixed-use mixed-income neighbourhood, one of North America’s largest urban redevelopments. The Regent Park Aquatic Centre, completed in 2012, is the key civic amenity centered on the eastern flank of the new central park development as the heart of the revitalization. The aquatic centre is a year-round indoor pool complex initiated by the City of Toronto that serves the revitalized community.
The aquatic centre is conceived as a ‘pavilion in the park’, very open at the base, and bisected lengthwise by a ‘dorsal fin’ of aquatic hall sky lighting. The building form is shaped to utilize its solar orientation. A large canopy to the south forms a generous public verandah at the main entrance, while a low continuous window overlooking the park to the west provides views, and minimizes heat gain from the afternoon sun. Replacing an existing outdoor pool, the project captures a feeling of transparency and connection to the outdoors. The pool hall has sliding glass doors for access to the park-side terrace, as well as natural ventilation opportunities. Responding to the views from the new high-rise towers surrounding the park, the building’s green roof is designed as a fifth elevation integrating with the building features and park setting.
The aquatic centre is the first facility in Canada to adopt the singular use of universal changerooms, no longer separating gender, rather common changerooms with private change cubicles. This establishes equality; addressing cultural and gender identity issues, while also enhancing the openness, safety, and visibility through the entire complex. The facility also offers a complete system of aquatics hall screening for cultural groups or anyone interested in privacy swims. The adoption of this new progressive feature along with the universal changerooms, the combination of fitness, leisure, and therapeutic aquatic uses, and the open and inviting design have greatly increased interest in the City’s aquatic venues.