They’re here! They’re here! The Winter Games, I mean. Are you watching it tonight? Isn’t everyone? All right, I’ll get to the point; my foodnetwork.ca counterpart, CJ, and I, have put our little bloggity heads together to make our own mark on the excitement to come. Today, with a lot less pomp and circumstance than the opening ceremonies, we’re kicking off our Spotlight on Vancouver: profiling shops, restaurants, people, and neighbourhoods. CJ and I spent some time in Vancouver and Victoria a little while back, and have already been rolling out some of our finds (look to the bottom for links). But today, it’s official: It’s Vangroovy time!
Here’s Part II of freelancer, Filip Terlecki’s exposé of the Athletes’ Village, and stay tuned for more Vancouver fun!
Athletes’ Village, Part II: The Exterior — Chic, Chic, Chic!
In my last post I wrote about the athletes’ accommodations (the interior) at the Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic Village. I won’t lie: things looked a little bleak. However, I’m happy to report that when it comes to the exterior elements, it’s an entirely different story. With this design, we really may make it up to the podium!
As you will see, developing a green and sustainable community was the primary goal. The Winter Games might be here for a few weeks but the Olympic Village is to leave a legacy for generations. Most of the buildings have been designed with crazy eco-friendly gadgets; case in point, North America’s first sewer heat recovery plant. Sounds exotic doesn’t it? Eco-friendly bling is all the rage these days, and in the words of the irresistible Tom Cruise as Jerry McGuire, I say, “You had me at sewer heat recovery plant.”
But what the heck is it, you ask? Well, it’s a clever way of using liquid waste to heat and cool buildings and to provide domestic hot water. The Europeans are already doing it, and since everybody knows that they are the future, we might as well jump on board too.
Overall, this home-away-from home will house close to 2,800 athletes and officials. The village is situated on Vancouver’s scenic waterfront and offers an extraordinary view of the mountainous skyline (that is of course only when there’s no fog to mask everything.) There are a variety of low and mid-rise buildings within close proximity to competition venues, and to its great credit, the entire development really feels like a village – like a united neighbourhood where you can pretty much do anything and everything.
There are walking paths, bike lanes, parks, man-made islands, benches and even cool lounge chairs for outdoor chill-outs. It’s the kind of mixed-use neighbourhood that makes European cities great, and one which suburban-loving, North American communities have previously avoided. (Full Gallery below!)
The Village, which is actually part of the larger Southeast False Creek development, is owned by the City of Vancouver, but a private developer has teamed up with Olympic organizers for the duration of the games. Afterward, it will become a mixed-use community that will contribute about 1,100 residential units. I spoke to the fine folks at Vancouver City Hall to unpack some of the details…
Filip Terlecki: How big is the entire village?
Vancouver City Hall spokesperson: More than a million square feet of construction was built on the site in anticipation of the Olympic Village.
FT: Who designed the village?
VCHS: The entire project was a collaborative effort between many skilled partners – including architects, landscape architects, and public space and lighting designers.
FT: How long did it take to construct?
VCHS: 30 months. Site preparation for Southeast False Creek/Olympic Village began in January 2006. The Village was handed over to VANOC in November 2009.
FT: Was there a certain atmosphere that you wanted to achieve?
VCHS: People-friendly buildings, streets and a plaza that promotes activity and interaction between residents.
FT: What about inspiration? Were there perhaps past Olympic villages or interesting city neighbourhoods from around the world that resonated with the designers?
VCHS: They all embraced sustainability and set a very high level of challenge for themselves. By taking this challenge and realizing the possibilities, the designers and developers created one of the most sophisticated sustainable communities in North America.
FT: What makes this Olympic village so unique?
VCHS: The Olympic Village is unique because of its strength as an innovating, environmentally sustainable, mixed-use community. It is a prime example of what the design and development community has come to refer to as "Vancouverism". As a community being considered for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum status, the Southeast False Creek development is an exciting new Vancouver neighbourhood with sustainability features that are the most advanced in North America.
FT: What are the most interesting eco-friendly components?
VCHS: The entire development is equipped with a wide range of sustainability features including the Net Zero building, green rooftops, and Habitat Island. This is a man-made island constructed in False Creek to assist in bringing wildlife into Vancouver. Early in 2009, herring eggs were discovered there. This is the first time in the modern era that these fish have spawned in False Creek; eagles & herons have been seen on the island as well. The City of Vancouver is also especially proud that the Olympic Village is being considered for LEED Platinum certification. The Olympic Village would be only the second community in the entire world to receive LEED Platinum certification. These environmentally friendly features are part of the City of Vancouver’s overall commitment to becoming the greenest city in the world by 2020.
Green and Other Village Facts
- The Olympic and Paralympic Village will serve athletes from the sports of curling, figure skating, freestyle skiing, hockey, short track speed skating, snowboarding and speed skating.
- The village is 117 km from the Olympic Village in Whistler, 1.6 km away from BC Place and an average distance of 10 km to other venues served.
- To achieve maximum eco-efficiency, the Vancouver government identified by-laws that hampered green building and changed them. In all 27 changes were made to foster innovative and sustainable development.
- The village contains Canada’s first net zero apartment building which will produce as much energy as it consumes on an annual basis.
- The roof of the Net Zero building and an adjacent building includes solar thermal hot water panels, which generate heat equivalent to 90 per cent of the building’s annual energy consumption.
- Urban agriculture contains roof top gardens, space for planting on balconies and a community garden.
- Buildings reuse rainwater for toilet flushing and landscape irrigation.
- Bathrooms and kitchens are equipped with high efficiency appliances. Over 50 per cent of the roof and courtyard areas are covered with green roofs.
- Buildings are equipped with electric vehicle chargers and car share vehicles.