Toronto ar­chi­tects get their hands dirty

Build look­out near Bri­gus; in­spire re­de­vel­op­ment of light­house trail


Michael Rosada stands in the com­mu­nity cen­tre in Bri­gus, proudly hold­ing up the inside of his fore­arms. The light skin is scuffed and scratched from car­ry­ing rocks and mov­ing branches

It’s not the im­age you might ex­pect from a city boy who re­cently com­pleted a de­gree in ar­chi­tec­ture at Ryerson Univer­sity in Toronto. In re­al­ity, you would ex­pect pro­fes­sion­als like Rosada to draw up the plans and hand them over to en­gi­neers and con­trac­tors for the ac­tual con­struc­tion work.

But Rosada, along with five of his fel­low grad­u­ates and two ar­chi­tects from ERA Ar­chi­tects Inc. in Toronto, had no qualms about get­ting their hands dirty dur­ing a re­cent week-long visit to Bri­gus, one of the old­est Eu­ro­pean set­tle­ments in North Amer­ica.

The group used plenty of brute strength and in­ge­nu­ity to con­struct a look­out plat­form just out­side of the com­mu­nity, along an old trail to the his­toric light­house sit­u­ated at a place called North Head. The light­house has been in op­er­a­tion for well over a cen­tury, and was des­ig­nated a fed­eral her­itage build­ing in 1990.

It was part of a pro­ject called Cul­ture of Out­ports, de­vel­oped by ERA in col­lab­o­ra­tion with its Cen­tre for Ur­ban Growth and Re­newal. The cen­tre is a non-profit re­search or­ga­ni­za­tion formed in 2009 to con­duct re­search to fur­ther knowl­edge about the cre­ation and re­newal of sus­tain­able ur­ban, sub­ur­ban and ru­ral en­vi­ron­ments in Canada and else­where. The pro­ject also had the sup­port of TD Bank.

It was the first of three such projects which will be un­der­taken in this prov­ince in the com­ing years, though fu­ture projects have not yet been iden­ti­fied.

The group ar­rived in New­found­land on June 12, and spent sev­eral days get­ting ac­quainted with Bri­gus and other points of in­ter­est on the Avalon Penin­sula. They started de­sign­ing and con­struct­ing the plat­form a few days later. It is lo­cated about a 10 to 15 minute walk from the com­mu­nity, mea­sures four feet wide by 30 feet long, and is painted a bright red. It was built us­ing lo­cal build­ing meth­ods, in­clud­ing crib­bing sim­i­lar to those used in the con­struc­tion of wharves. And in an­other trib­ute to the uniquness of Bri­gus, the group also con­structed a dry-stacked stone wall, sim­i­lar to those seen in the re­gion.

From the plat­form, vis­i­tors get a breath­tak­ing view of Bri­gus and much of Con­cep­tion Bay.

“This was pos­si­bly one the best ex­pe­ri­ences of my life,” said Rosada, whose mother is from Stephenville Cross­ing.

How did this group end up in Bri­gus?

Photo by Terry Roberts/the Com­pass

Go­ing over plans for a look­out plat­form just out­side Bri­gus are, from left, Ryerson Univer­sity ar­chi­tec­ture grad­u­ates Michael Rosada and An­drea Vet­toretti, ar­chi­tect An­drew Pruss of ERA Ar­chi­tects Inc., in Toronto, and Bri­gus town coun­cil­lor Lorne Youden.

Sub­mit­ted photo

Mem­bers of the Cul­ture of Out­ports group use rocks to fill a “crib” for a look­tout plat­form near Bri­gus last month.

Sub­mit­ted photo

Mem­bers of the Cul­ture of Out­ports group move a “crib” into place.

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