The Bloedel Conservatory, a jewel in the city perched atop Queen Elizabeth Park. Photo by Joshua McVeity.
The Bloedel Conservatory — A colourful escape.
Story and photos by Joshua McVeity
Dreaming of a warm getaway this winter? You need go no further than Queen Elizabeth Park. Truly an oasis in the city, the Conservatory can brighten any day with its tropical clime, colourful flora, and the vivid plumage of its inhabitants. The conservatory for exotic plants and birds was saved from closure four years ago thanks to Friends of the Bloedel, a non-profit association formed by concerned citizens. Now under the wing of VanDusen Botanical Garden, the triodetic dome— honoured with a Places that Matter plaque from the Vancouver Heritage Foundation in 2012—is home to over 200 free-flying exotic birds and 500 tropical plants from around the world.
The Scholar’s Courtyard and Study—in a traditional Ming scholar’s residence, this was where scholars read, composed poetry, studied music, and painted. Photo by Joshua McVeity, Montecristo Magazine.
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden — Zen in the city.
Story and photos by Joshua McVeity
Usher in the Year of the Ram at one of Vancouver’s cultural jewels. Declared the “World’s Top City Garden” by National Geographic in 2012, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden and adjacent Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Park is truly a place of urban zen. The Garden, which was modelled after the classical gardens of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), is the first full-sized classical garden constructed outside of China. Fifty-two master craftsmen from Suzhou, China worked with a team of Canadian counterparts to complete this landscape masterpiece within a year; it officially opened on April 26, 1986.
The design of the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden is based on the harmony of four main elements: rock, water, plants, and architecture. This remarkable sanctuary, nestled in the heart of Chinatown, enchants with its winding paths, covered walkways, and beautiful vistas. In Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Park, find peace and tranquility in unique rock forms, the lily-covered pond, and lush plants.
Detail shot of the undulating “petal” roof. Photo: Courtesy of Perkins+Will Canada and Vancouver Park Board; taken prior to completion.
The VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre — Design in bloom.
Story: Amanda Jun
Rain is not unfamiliar to Vancouverites. And while many may grumble about wet weather for half the year, grievances are mostly forgotten come May, when we revel in the beauty of our verdant city. Perhaps, in that sense, no one appreciates the rain more than a gardener, and those at the VanDusen Botanical Garden have a new plant to tend.
A new Visitor Centre opened its doors this past October, housing the garden café, gift shop, library, interpretive exhibits, volunteer activity space and new educational and rental facilities. Informed by the site’s ecosystem and designed to generate its own energy and operate efficiently, in addition to having LEED Platinum status, the facility is expected to receive certification from the International Living Future Institute as Canada’s first Living Building. It’s magnificent to behold, contained by tall glass walls and a large undulating roof crowned with an oculus. Dramatic and arresting, it is the garden’s new herald, announcing its presence, which was formerly obscured by a shield of hollies.
Plans for a new facility at VanDusen have been in gestation since 2000, and in 2007, Vancouver-based architecture firm Perkins+Will Canada, in conjunction with renowned landscape architect Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, was commissioned by the Vancouver Park Board to create a signature building that would serve and represent the garden’s purpose while exemplifying sustainability. “We need to show by example that this kind of project can be achieved,” says Danica Djurkovic, the acting director of planning and operations at the Vancouver Park Board. “It’s our responsibility to make sure that we deliver, before we start asking others to do the same thing.”
The facility is designed to be net-zero energy, with a combination of solar and geothermal systems in place to generate heating and electricity. Additionally, a heat sink—the asymmetrical perforated aluminium panel installed inside the glazed oculus—aids natural ventilation.