Public Realm

Public Realm

Mirvish Village will be built around an expansive pedestrian-oriented public realm that encourages community vitality, prosperity, and cultural sustainability. A continuous ground plane will be made up of a woven fabric of stone pavers extending throughout the porous site, unifying the block with a coherent identity, while at the same time allowing smaller zones to be animated. The treatment will wrap around Bloor and Bathurst Street where the boulevards will be widened through the setback of the building faces, further enhancing the pedestrian experience by creating the space necessary to buffer vehicular traffic.

Markham Street will continue to permit vehicular traffic but will be designed without curbs. Its edges will be defined instead by planters and street furniture, signaling its transition to a pedestrian-oriented environment. Inspired by its heyday when artists’ studios took over front lawns to create wide sidewalks and community gathering spaces, Mirvish Village will take back the street by closing Markham Street for festivals and special events. The street itself will be shifted to the west, creating a wide boulevard to accommodate new restaurant patios, landscaping and informal seating areas on the east side. Markham Street will feature a series of outdoor “rooms”, each with a distinctly characterized theme structured by the layout of street trees, the selection of materials, the design of street furniture, and outdoor street lighting. The themes of these outdoor rooms will range from “play”, “lounge”, and “patio”, serving to activate the streetscape at all times of the day.

“In Markham Street Village, the way those front yards of former residences have been made into wide sidewalks – marvellous for window shopping, for sitting around in… This is not usual in most cities today.”

Jane Jacobs, “The Way It Is,” CBC, March 2, 1969


A new park on the west side of Markham Street will incorporate public art and opportunities for play and recreation. The park will weave into the adjoining spaces, extending behind the heritage houses and be carried into the lanes by the expression of the continuous ground plane treatment. Frontage onto Markham Street directly across from the market will allow the spaces to spill out and expand the public realm experience.

As the largest private commissioner of artwork in Vancouver, Westbank is deeply committed to producing engaging and inspiring creative works of public art. Echoing the large scale murals that adorn the otherwise blank brick walls of the Markham Street houses, preeminent artists will be showcased at various locations around the site to pay homage to the vitality, character, and history of the Mirvish Village art colony of the 1960’s.