The new pavilions at East Point Park Bird Sanctuary use architecture as a means of framing one of Toronto’s most beautiful parks, while enhancing the pleasures of birding for visitors of all ages and levels of experience.
Folded into angular shapes evocative of flight, sheets of waterjet-cut weathering steel form the pavilions for this wooded park on the Scarborough Bluffs, high above Lake Ontario. The materials palette, which also includes precast and cast-in-place concrete and galvanized grating, was chosen for durability and minimal environmental impact. The completed Phase One encompasses the Viewing Pavilion, a Bird Blind, and entry signage.
The structures and the new and rehabilitated paths connecting them are part of a citywide initiative to enhance and protect bird habitat and increase birding activity through public education and programming. Framed by interpretive signage and seating, the pavilions provide shelter from the elements, and are vantage points for spectacular views of the lake and an inland pond.
Overlooking the lake to the south and the pond to the north, the Viewing Pavilion is the primary gathering space. Split into inversely symmetrical halves that share a concrete podium, the pavilion was designed and oriented to provide optimal viewing. Waterjet-cut through the pavilion’s walls are clouds of birds in flight above the names of species that frequent this significant migratory flyway stopover site.
Waterjet-cut graphics mimicking the sunlight and shadow patterns of the adjacent poplar grove perforate the Bird Blind. This structure partially encloses visitors, and its openings are at heights that allow children and adults to observe birds on the pond, unobtrusively but at close range. The future Soundscape Pavilion (Phase Two) will be a ‘listening sanctuary’: visitors sitting quietly within this enclosure will be able to savour the sounds of a forest alive with birdsong.