Just like the previous days of our trip in Vancouver, we took the Skytrain to get to our destination, and for today’s agenda it is the Olympic Village. As we were shivering in the cold, windy weather waiting for the landscapers Debra and Tina to give us a tour around the Olympic Village and False Creek area, we continued to observe our surroundings in the open space area. When we first met Debra and Tina, they informed us about the background history of the formation of the area that we were standing on. Taken by its name, the Olympic Village was built for the 2010 Winter Olympics that was held in Vancouver. At that time, the city wanted to create a continuous seawall similar to the concept of Stanley Park, which is a public park that is surrounded by the Vancouver Harbour. This became what is known today as the Olympic Village, an open space area that is both pedestrian- and cyclist- friendly.
The small and narrow roads in the False Creek area were designated for pedestrians and bikers to travel across the park area. The visibility of the bike signs and continental crosswalks on the ground is high enough for people to see from far away distance and indicates where pedestrians should cross and where cyclists should bike. This design is called the “corner bulge,” where it minimizes four traffic lanes to two and thus decreases the crossing time for pedestrians, often with a pedestrian light activation. At the center of the Olympic Village, also knows as The Plaza, we saw a large open space area with many resting stations with tables and seating areas for people to stay in and enjoy the scenery of the park. A several sparrow figures are displayed throughout The Plaza as it adds extra visuals for the area. The parks in Olympic Village seems like a fairly quiet area for people to come and relax, although we didn’t really see much people in the area besides our own group.
Compared to the parks in San Francisco, Olympic Village seems to have a larger surface area, also welcoming bikers to spend their time with nature in the park. Instead, the parks in SF are more designated for families or groups of young ones to go explore. The parks that I see in SF usually have slides and swings that are designed for children to play on. Some larger parks in SF also have tennis and basketball courts, and this was something that I haven’t seen in Vancouver (yet?) from the places that we have explored so far. There are also parks in San Francisco that are designed for outdoor activities such as barbecue. I feel that the parks in the Vancouver Olympic Village are more quiet and peaceful, and that would attract more tourists, whereas the parks in San Francisco seem more as a location for family days or group bondings for many locals. Nonetheless, the parks in both cities are places where people spend their leisure time and have an opportunity to relax and breathe in some fresh air!
As we followed Debra and Tina on a tour around the Olympic Village and False Creek area, I found many interesting and unique features that make the area more aesthetic. Besides these well-designed visuals, we also passed through many rocks, islands, and even a small tunnel to reach the other side of False Creek, which is near the water. As we proceed, we see a structure that is constructed with metal pipelines where there’s water running through from the top and slightly slanting to the bottom. We learned from Debra and Tina that this is actually a type of stormwater management. Water is stored during rainy seasons and they will run through these pipelines occasionally. Besides this, I feel that the structure itself provides another for the area’s visitors. A similar concept can also be implemented in the open space areas not just only in San Francisco but also in other cities throughout California that are also experiencing the drought. San Francisco is actually a unique city because it has several water treatment plants throughout the city that stores our wastewater, one especially for rainy seasons. Moreover, adding more facilities that will serve both the purposes of water treatment and tourist attraction is a great way to benefit our city and utilize our open space areas. Overall, Olympic Village is a nice place to explore and can furthermore increase our knowledge on city planning and development. I think that it is an open space are designed for both tourists and locals, yet I feel it attracts more tourists.
While we were eating lunch at a local chinese restaurant owned by one of our friend’s uncle in Chinatown, we had a nice conversation about starting business in Vancouver. Then we headed to our next station on today’s agenda: Makers Lab! When we arrived at the location, we walked in the doors with a mixture of excitement and exhaustion. With the project that we had in mind, we listened carefully to the instructions for the machine usage provided by the staff in Makers Lab. Then we began working on our project first by drawing out our ideas on butcher papers and measuring wood pieces. We split ourselves into two groups working on different projects: a box that can also be opened up to be a platform as streets for pedestrian safety, and figures and signs that are relevant to promoting street safety. We hope to make good use of this time and opportunity that we have to produce something that is useful to our program and the community in the future.
As we were working on the box and drawing blueprints, we also walked back and forth from our working station to the laser cutter machine. The machine was something new to me and I was amazed with the work that it does with our wood pieces. We first saved our pictures and load them into the computer that is connected to the laser cutter. Then we searched for the wood pieces and the right thickness that we wanted to use as the material of our finished product. I find it fascinating that we were able to eyewitness the whole process of our designs being cut out by the machine. First, lines are drawn on the wood pieces into the designs that we have. Then the cutter comes along and cuts along the lines. Something interesting that I learned today is that you can actually fix or change the speed of how fast the machine cuts the wood pieces. You can choose to witness the laser cutter cutting the wood pieces at a slower pace so you can see each step it takes, or you can speed it up as if you are fast forwarding a DVD movie. After numerous hours of working in a dusty wood environment, we have yet to finish all the pieces of our project but at least completed most of it due to time limitation. I think that this was a very great and eye-opening experience for me to be able to see our ideas from scratch slowly being built from our hands into real three-dimensional objects and figures! If I have the opportunity to visit a Makers Lab again, I would want to make name plaques for myself and my friends and family with a several designs that represent us.
After spending a whole afternoon in the Makers Lab, we all felt tired and hungry. We later settled down to eat dinner at a fancy chinese restaurant. Before we end our day and go back home, we shopped around a local T&T Supermarket for snacks! This supermarket also brings me back memories since I used to shop in it a lot whenever I travel to Canada to visit my relatives. And now I feel glad and excited to revisit this supermarket again in three years! Here, I also found my favorite ramen noodle snack and as well as some Calbee chips (that I call chinese cheetos haha). Besides the snacks, another thing from the supermarket that also brought me delight was a strawberry cake dessert filled in a small doraemon cup. When I received this adorable cup, I was surprised and amazed by its appearance as I see it as an art piece. This present was a total surprise to me and it surely did made my day!
- Shirley Tsang