At the water's edge

Friday 13 Aug 2010

Rice Design Alliance host charrette to revitalise Willow Waterhole Park

On Saturday 7th August, Rice Design Alliance held an intensive, all-day challenge to revitalise Willow Waterhole Park in Southwest Houston. RDA’s young professionals group, rdAgents, hosted the competition that sought to maximise the 279-acre greenspace of Willow Waterhole, making the park a more sophisticated nature preserve.

The day’s program was divided into three tracks - the 12 participating teams of architects, graphic designers, and those passionate about the park chose between a Master Plan Track, which considered the park as a whole, an Architecture Track, and a Graphic Design Track. Participants were charged with taking the mostly vacant greenspace and designing measures to promote nature, unify the six detention sites of the park, increase public outreach and awareness, create opportunity for revenue, and showcase creativity and ingenuity.

The team from TBG Partners won ‘Best Overall’ prize for their strong representation of park connectivity. Team member Pete Simpson said: “Our main goal for the project was to make connections. We wanted to connect the park through contiguous greenspace for park users and wildlife internally, as well as connect to the community externally.” The team accomplished this by considering the ecosystems in the broader Houston region, with an iconic nature centre, amphitheatre, and viewing tower for the park.

Clark Condon Associates won ‘Best Master Plan’ for their well-rounded, straightforward, nature-first vision. The team’s ability to unify the six disparate parts of the park was deemed striking to the judges. The ‘Best Architecture’ award went to Genevieve Buentello, Antonio Flamenco, Mike Garcia, and Camillo Parra. The team’s visual articulation of innovative elements – such as the multi-level viewing tower partly submerged in water – were said to be architecturally appealing. SHW Group’s team took home the prize for ‘Best Graphic Design Solution’. Judges responded to the team’s elegant response to the existing park plans, and their nod to the natural surrounding environments.

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