While in Seattle this past weekend I had the chance to make a brief stop by the city’s Colonnade Park. Given it’s size, I managed to cover about half of the accentuated terrain (on foot) built into the underbelly of the I-5.
The brilliance of the park’s siting becomes obvious when you are immersed in it: the steep and jumbled topography; the formerly barren and listless ground in the shadow of the overpass; the industrial cathedral that serves as ready-made shelter for the 9-out-of-12 soggy months of the Northwest climate; and perhaps the most critical factor – the challenges and indifference towards such spaces – which allowed for it to be co-opted into something else equally unique and unpolished.
It hard not to be enamored by the successful and improvised gestalt of the whole thing, in both program and materials. Much of what it is made of was donated or recycled from demolition projects around the city. And typical off-the-shelf items, like permeable waffle pavers (above), have been retooled as robust and removable cellular confinement systems. All the pieces of the circuits have this hand-made, custom quality that is site + multiple user specific.
One comes away with the impression that the park will keep remaking itself incrementally, over and over again. Pieces and segments will be modified as they wear out, with new experiments being plugged in as desired. It seems that the builders and volunteers that have constructed it might actually be a little forlorn if the park were ever fully finished.