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Helping Surrey Stack Up: VIA Team among PARKit Design Winning Circle

Jun 11, 2014

By Brendan Hurley

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PalleTopia design as set in Surrey Centre’s Landscape.

VIA Architecture is proud to have participated in the City of Surrey’s 2014 PARKit Design Challenge. A team of VIA designers presented ‘PalleTopia’, a design to use stacked reusable pallets as modules to create a playful and multi-functional space right next to the entrance of Surrey Central Station. This endeavour was part of a public call for the design and installation of a $15,000 summer season pop-up park. PalleTopia, designed by Zhaleh Moulaei, Sophie Steer and Brendan Hurley was granted Honourable Mention amongst all of the submissions received by the City. Exercises carried out within the VIA Office in Vancouver helped develop a vision for the mini-parkit as a simultaneous node, stage and gateway to create a place that comfortably and elegantly connects the people of Surrey with their urban centre and to each other.

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A new axis for Surrey’s growing centre.

This spring’s opening of Surrey’s new City Hall right next to rapid transit marks a turning point for the City’s transformation from suburb to city. It is now centred with a transit connected central business district and civic heart for its 500,000+ residents. The area around Surrey Central Station now becomes a central node in a new and future axis of the City’s core. It is a crossroads of moving people (through transit), moving commerce (with a renovated retail mall) and moving minds (with the Simon Fraser University campus and recently built public library). Yet, this site has great potential to allow people to connect in a more meaningful way. The ParkIt under the guideway of the SkyTrain will help making a more visually special place that clearly stitches the elements of the Central City.

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PalleTopia provides multiple over lapping space use options.

For this year’s challenge,  the VIA Team’s goals in these design elements was to enhance the power of this place to facilitate connective community in Surrey’s core and to make this place special for visitors and passers-by alike.  Our design presented a porous space made with stacked pallet modules. Dubbed ‘PalleTopia’, the pixelated modules rise, fall and disappear to create a plethora of social spaces, resting places and passageways. Shipping pallets were chosen as the base material to reduce environmental impacts and costs, and their design was specifically tailored so it would maximize the reusability of the pallets when they were returned to industrial circulation. A smooth wood surface would provide comfortable seating and staging on top of these more industrial wooden bases. The stacks rise to a crescendo on the northwest corner to, not only, act as a buffer and refuge from the transit centre’s noisy bus loop, but also to create a vibrantly coloured visual signifier to mark entrance into a special space.

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The elements of a modular and connective design.

The VIA team salutes the many other participants of this challenge, who, by contributing to this site with their creativity and ideas, have increased the likelihood of this central place to coalesce into something greater than the sum of its parts… a brighter more connective new urban core for Surrey. The top honours go to ‘Gingham Style’, a submission by Liz Nguyen and Mike Wartman that evokes and was inspired by the archetypal gingham checker-pattern of a picnic blanket. Congratulations all for your efforts and thinking on this space and we hope to join you in enjoying and celebrating this renewed urban space as it continues to evolve and develop.