UBC Undergraduate Research

Re-envisioning the UBC Botanical Garden Chen, Fangqing; Hajen, Christian; Lee, Adrian; Miller, Jordan; Wong, Jonathan; Yau, Linus


The UBC Botanical Garden & Centre for Plant Research occupies 78 acres of land situated on the southwest corner of the UBC campus. It is the home to a collection of over 12 000 plants, including numerous rare and endangered species, representing many regions around the world. This makes it the 2nd most diverse botanical garden in North America (UBC Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research, 2013b). Improvement of the UBC Botanical Garden is required to increase the annual volume of visitors to a level that can provide funds to continue research and sustainability. To achieve this task, six different design components are proposed to be implemented over several phases. The six conceptual design components are as follows. 1. Directional and scientific cataloguing signage 2. Moon Tunnel interior upgrades 3. Rooftop rainwater collection and distribution system 4. Stormwater drainage system 5. Greenhouse-café bistro and lounge 6. Elevated pedestrian walkway The first phase of the redevelopment plan will improve upon the visitor experience, and increase visitor engagement, by enhancing signage and aesthetics in the garden. The combination of thick foliage and low-strung signage in the west portion of the garden makes its trails challenging to navigate for visitors. Enhancing the directional signage and identifying garden landmarks will greatly contribute to the navigability of the garden. In addition, current plant signage only presents a taxonomical name, which has little meaning to most visitors. New scientific signage with improvements made to graphics and descriptions — with the possibility of interactive elements — would make the garden experience more educational and engaging for visitors. The Moon Tunnel used to connect the east and west portions of the botanical garden is aesthetically displeasing when compared to the rest of the garden. Since the tunnel is unavoidable, due to the layout of the garden trail route, it is worthwhile to provide some upgrades. By simply covering the corrugated steel walls with wood, plants and signage, and by improving the interior lighting, the ambiance and safety within the tunnel can be greatly improved. These upgrades are inexpensive to implement and will improve the overall garden experience. The stormwater drainage system in the botanical garden is currently inadequate to handle Vancouver’s rainfall conditions. Thus, a new subsurface drainage system will be installed along with a new gutter system for the pathways in the garden. This system will use a series of catchment basins, perforated pipes, and concrete channels to redirect precipitation back to the existing stormwater drainage system. The stormwater drainage system may be retrofitted as a stormwater collection system in the future allowing the garden to reuse the water in its daily operations. To address the current issue of excessive use of potable water in the botanical garden, a new rainwater collection system will be built to reduce the demand. The rainwater will be collected on the garden pavilion roof next to the vegetable garden and stored in plastic drums adjacent to the building. This will allow for collected rainwater to be piped into the nearby vegetable garden for the plants. The cost of implementing a rainwater collection system is very low, and will yield huge benefits in addressing the sustainability of the garden. The greenhouse-café bistro and lounge consists of several glass domes which, with their unique architecture, will be iconic to the botanical garden. The glass domes will serve the purpose of plant conservation, by creating a place to expand the floral collection with new species. It will also provide a place for visitors to relax and purchase coffee and snacks, with quiet study areas for students. Ultimately, the greenhouse-café will bring in more revenue for the garden to support its mission in scientific research. The establishment will provide a comfortable environment which will attract students from the nearby campus area and likely increase overall attendance. A new elevated pedestrian walkway will create a dramatic change to the west side of the UBC campus, as well as address three major concerns: safety, accessibility, and publicity. The elevated pedestrian walkway will be a single span steel truss bridge which will be both functional and aesthetically pleasing. It will create a circular loop which completes the garden tour and provide a safer pathway to cross SW Marine Drive. The façade of the MSE wall will include a UBC logo and welcome message for visitors arriving to the UBC campus. The six different design components will be implemented through various phases over 20 years. The work on the signage can commence immediately, as it is a simple upgrade. In the third year, upgrades to the tunnel can be undertaken, and by the fifth year, the rainwater collection and stormwater drainage systems can be implemented. After the more essential upgrades have been completed in the garden, work on building the greenhouse-café can begin around year 10. Lastly, construction of the elevated pedestrian walkway is planned for year 17, and expected to be completed by year 20. Although the proposed plans to upgrade the botanical garden are ambitious, they are also financially feasible. The financial cost to implement all these conceptual design components range greatly. For example, the costs of upgrading the signage and Moon Tunnel, are relatively low as compared to large scale projects such as the greenhouse-café and elevated pedestrian walkway. The financial requirements of the projects are high, however, with proper planning, will be feasible procure. Overall, the conceptual design to re-envision the UBC Botanical Garden addresses the issues of sustainability to promote further steady growth into the future, thus allowing the garden to expand and diversify its collection. Accessibility to the garden is improved and the visitor experience is enhanced to promote education in the garden. The proposed upgrades will establish the presence of the botanical garden on the UBC campus and provide a designation for the community. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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