Project Report Argyle Street Halifax
Revamping the inner city.
When a construction project puts people and their needs first, great things happen. Last year Halifax’s Argyle Street was re-developed, and we were able to bring out the potential of this major downtown hub. The lavish new Plaza style streetscape is a feast for the eye, and Argyle Street’s functionality meets the demands of modern construction.
Why Argyle Street?
Argyle Street plays host to around 2,000 events each year, placing it at the heart of this Canadian coastal city. Many of the city’s activities take place here: theatrical performances, live music, DJs and much more. Moreover, Argyle Street has become a major pedestrian area in central Halifax.
Ideas for a bigger picture.
Because of Argyle Street’s importance, the municipality has sought the cooperation of the entire business community. Through public design sessions and consultations with special interest groups, the community came together. The development is the result of a cooperation between architects, local store owners and the local economic commission.
We managed to overcome any conflict of interest – there were no compromises on new Argyle Street, only a satisfying outcome. Competing with cities from all over North America, the Argyle Street project got 2nd Place at the People’s Choice Award, for “Best Urban Street Transformation”.
People matter more than vehicles.
The minimalist-yet-hospitable streetscape uses large-sized Plaza Style paving, creating an elegant look. The street has become more spacious, offering extra room for pedestrians, and an excuse to stay and discover. It is the first Canadian street to boast year-round patios. Until now, outdoor seating had to be erected and dismantled by store owners every season. Considering that eateries are the largest segment in this area (95%), it was an important addition.
The spaciousness of the street is highlighted by the slow flow of traffic: motorists are allowed to pass through Argyle Street, but must respect pedestrians. All parking places have been removed – except for designated delivery areas. The additional space meets legal requirements, governing the border between the carriageway and the restaurants. Benches and trees have replaced where temporary barriers were once erected, and make walking along Argyle Street a greener experience.
At first glance, one might miss the wonderful details of innovation and quality. Security is created through richly contrasting ground colour schemes, giving visually impaired people better orientation, and tactile warning strips have replaced the original kerbs. A highlight for night owls is the partial canopy of tiered lighting, which can be retracted at the touch of a button. The Argyle pattern has been incorporated into the road design, giving a nod to the street’s name.
Devin Segal, from Ekistics plan + design, was the landscape architect and technical consultant in charge. His design draws attention to the high degree of freedom granted by the municipality.
That freedom led to beautiful results - the high quality of material is visible throughout.
When Ekistics plan + design suggested drainage using FILCOTEN® pro, service and maintenance officials were easily convinced. FILCOTEN® pro ’s cast-iron trench drains are fastened with cage nuts, ensuring durability and allowing easy replacement in the event of damage - an important feature of the nearly 300-metre-long drainage system. Ecological considerations also played a role in the contract: from manufacture to assembly, FILCOTEN® is an environmentally-friendly, free of toxic substances, long-lasting and 100 % recycleable. Because it’s light, transport and assembly are very economical and leave a small carbon footprint.
To cope with the mix of vehicles and pedestrians, Load Class E 600 grates were used. Taking the region’s turbulent weather into consideration, the immediate choice was FILCOTEN® pro. The coastal city experiences not only sudden changes with snow, rain and thaw, both in autumn and winter, but also significant fluctuations in temperature. Thanks to its nominal width of 200 mm, the trench system is able to collect and drain away the increased volume of rainwater. FILCOTEN® trench drains remain intact even when temperatures vary dramatically.
Satisfying the Community.
The revamped Argyle Street is set to improve the city life of Halifax, satisfying the community’s need for functional architecture. Now that the drainage system has proved its worth during the cold season, we will have to wait for the spring and summer to see how New Argyle Street revitalizes the busy city centre. Many thanks to our partner Soleno and the City of Halifax, who have allowed us to participate in this project, and to Devin Segal of Ekistics plan + design, for his help in writing this article.
For those of you who haven’t yet had the opportunity to visit Halifax, we recommend this video about the Argyle Street project.