“Urban Reef” Coming to Robson Street in Vancouver

City of Vancouver

City of Vancouver

Are you ready to “swim” your way through Vancouver’s Robson Street?

The 800-block of Robson will be closed to traffic and transformed into an “urban reef” this summer. Designed to encourage people to stop, meet and mingle, the unique installation consists of a series of flowing benches crafted to look much like a landlocked coral reef.

The design beat out 78 other entries from all over the world as part of the Robson Redux contest.  Entrants were tasked with transforming the busy section of Robson Street, situated directly behind the Vancouver Art Gallery, into a pedestrian-friendly space for people to sit and relax during the summer months.

The winning design came, appropriately enough, from a group of Vancouver architects and carpenters.  They’ll be given $40,000 by the city to cover materials and other costs for the project.  The reef is set to be up and running by Canada Day (July 1) and will remain in operation through Labour Day (Sept. 1).

The installation’s three curving reefs are meant to be used as comfy benches or lounge chairs (in fact, ledges have been strategically positioned to catch the sun).  High-top tables offer a spot to eat lunch from food trucks parked nearby.  The reefs also provide seating for outdoor performances, from shows by local buskers to bigger events.


City of Vancouver

The coolest part: At night, LED bulbs inside the reef will be lit, making the sculpture glow from within.

City of Vancouver

City of Vancouver

This is the fourth year that this section of Robson Street has been closed to traffic and made into a gathering space.  Past installations have included a collection of giant beanbags for lounging in the sun and, more practically, a cluster of cedar benches and patio umbrellas.  Popular among pedestrians, the yearly closures are met with a mixed reaction by drivers and bus passengers, who are forced to find alternate routes around the busy block.

What do you think about the installation of an “urban reef” on Robson Street? Let us know. 

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6 Responses to “Urban Reef” Coming to Robson Street in Vancouver

  1. Stuck in traffic

    What a giant mistake by vancouver. I have never stopped an lounged out on the street in downtown. There’s beaches an patios for that!! I have however had to sit in traffic because some idiot closed the street all summer.

    • Alex

      Well maybe you should spend a little less time in your car and a little more on your feet? Then you would appreciate pedestrian areas like that. If you want to drive around with no traffic – welcome to Abbotsford

    • LOL

      I love people who complain about Vancouver “traffic”. One block closes down and you’re stuck in traffic all summer? They even give you two months notice and you can’t plan an alternate route? Not sure who the real “idiot” is here…

  2. Sara

    I think it’s fabulous – love the way the seating arrangement was created – the use of wood, pipes and lights makes wonderful sense. Way more hygienic than last year’s installation.

  3. Sir Mccoy

    I think art installations are quite fascinating and brings art on the streets. A lot of people complains when there are changes. There will be people who will not be pleased to what they see especially when convenience are being affected. Knowing that Vancouver Downtown is already a congested area with a very small area coverage the street art installations, even if served as a double purpose of lounge seatings, is not where it should be posted. It could have been placed nicely on top of the curb as opposed on the actual street that left commuters leaves more carbon footprint with gas looking for a right turns and left turns when they are driving. Careful planning, critical analysis, feasibility studies and surveying people should have been the first steps for any public art installations. In that way, facilitators can weigh out the pros and cons and deal it in a respectable way.

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