ENTRY A23 – Overhead Watershed


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For adult Vancouverites, venturing out in the rain means wet shoes and soggy hair. But when these adults were kids, a rainy day meant something much different. The rain brought with it entirely new opportunities for play. As kids, they dug in the mud to channel flowing rainwater. They dammed it, diverted it, and floated objects through elaborate watercourses of their own design. What if that simple act of play could be captured in a public space that would remind all those grumpy adults seeking shelter from the rain of the joy of playing in puddles?

Overhead Watershed proposes to transform Paris Square (near the Chinatown Skytrain Station) into a public plaza that is sheltered from the rain. Vehicle traffic to the plaza will be reduced, creating a generous pedestrian plaza for events, performances, and a winter farmer’s market.

The translucent canopy overhead is made of molded plastic that has been shaped to make an event of the flowing rainwater. On its way to the rain garden at the centre of the plaza, the flowing water can be seen overhead zigzagging through channels, snaking its way through obstacles, pooling and converging into streams. The simple act of hands playing in mud to divert water has been used to shape each segment of the canopy. For anyone who pauses to look up, the show is a reminder that rainy days are the best days to play.