Bow to Bluff Public Realm

City of Calgary
Location Calgary | Alberta | Canada

Bow to Bluff is a linear urban park that follows the Northwest LRT line in Calgary from McHugh Bluff to the Bow River. The LRT has divided the communities of Kensignton and Sunnyside since it was built. The Bow to Bluff Public Realm Plan transforms the corridor into a conduit for social interaction, community building and sustainable mobility. 

The corridor design began in 2012 as a community-led initiative to develop an urban design framework that would transform the public corridor along the Light Rail Transit (LRT) line into a great public space. O2 led the public engagement for the project from the inception and was subsequently retained in 2016 to develop the concept design and implementation of the framework. 

The site presents a number of challenges that include the barrier of the LRT line, noise, and tight urban backyard and alley conditions. The vision for the project was to create a line of unity rather than separation by creating a multi-modal trail linked by a series of active urban places. 

The continuous multi-modal trail draws people along the space bringing vitality and active surveillance to the corridor. The bike trails change in character along the length of the corridor from an offroad multi-modal trail to streets that have been converted to shared space woonerfs. The former ominous corrugated metal noise fence is replaced by a heavy timber fence animated with public art, seating and built in planters. 

The corridor connects a series of gathering spaces animated by activities such as a giant swingset, climbing walls, skatepark, bike station, ping pong tables, playable landscapes, community gardens, urban orchard, community bread oven, harvest table, rainwater gardens, and a community kiosk. 

A palette of bright colours and furniture families unite the space in a common language culminated in a renewed LRT station design that creates a welcoming gateway between the separated communities.