This Calgary Facility with an Indoor Park is a Holistic Wellness Haven for All

A collaboration between architectural firm Dialog and Vivo for Healthier Generations realizes eastern and western wellness practices in an expanded facility in north Calgary.

Photo by Jared Sych.

In October 2023, the community organization Vivo for Healthier Generations in Country Hills debuted a stunning new addition in the form of Calgary’s first indoor park. “Vivo stands as a space crafted collaboratively by and for the community,” says CEO Cynthia Watson. “Our dedication to inclusiveness, such that every individual, irrespective of age, ability or background, can find a sense of belonging at Vivo, adds immense value to our members and guests.”

The $62 million redesign of Vivo is meant to address the rapid population growth and unique cultural makeup in Country Hills and the surrounding communities. The addition of the 19,500 square-foot indoor park, created in collaboration with the architectural firm Dialog, expands the facility to 269,000 square feet.

Marion LaRue, partner and architect at Dialog, says through extensive research and community outreach, Dialog learned that Eastern and Western cultures realize wellness in unique ways. “We discovered that for Eastern cultures it’s more passive, a circuitous route, there’s a focus on yoga, meditation, contemplation and mindfulness,” LaRue says. “And for Western cultures it’s more active, it’s more physical, it’s more getting from point A to B.”

To make space for all, the indoor park incorporates sound and lighting features that follow a circadian rhythm to mimic sunrise and sunset, which can be adjusted to suit diverse audiences. Rolling hills, heights and various floor textures make it easier for visitors with visual impairments to navigate the park and encourage spontaneous play.

With a 1,400-person capacity, the park can also be set up to host community and cultural events. “It’s about different approaches to life that we’re trying to reflect in Vivo,” LaRue says. “The park is an example of where you don’t have to have a programmed, scheduled type of activity. There are many spaces where you can be very active or very quiet. We’re trying to address both.”

Vivo welcomes about 100,00 visitors per month and expects that number to grow as Calgary does. The facility now has a six-lane pool, updated yoga and fitness facilities, a spa and the BMO Collaboratory — 2,000 square feet of open space for individuals, charities, social enterprises and community groups to co-create, prototype and evaluate projects collaboratively for shaping healthier generations.

To measure the actual impact of these design considerations, Dialog plans to install an architect-in-residence. “We’re going to help Vivo measure the biophilic impact of the facility,” LaRue says. “Measuring how the connection with nature outside, the curved walls, the different articulations of the ceiling, the rolling hills of the park … how are these biophilic design moves impacting the health and well being of local residents when they come to visit?”

Learn more about the people and organizations moving Calgary forward with Avenue's Innovation Newsletter.

This article appears in the May 2024 issue of Avenue Calgary.

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