TWIN CREEKS: Trail as Experience Maker

First Place entry by Apliz Architecture (Images © Apliz)


Parks are becoming more than just a place for relaxation, hiking and recreation. They are becoming places to experience high design. One of the best examples, which has set the bar higher, is La Villette in Paris, where Barnard Tschumi designed a number of “follies” to enliven the park experience.


Now numerous examples abound here in the states, where landscape architects such as Michael Van Valkenburgh, Peter Walker, Chris Reed and George Hargreaves have added visual elements to their park designs. To give the Orange County Great Park an added feature, Ken Smith went so far as to feature a balloon ride to the former navy airstrip.


Kansas City saw a trail as an opportunity to add to the pedestrian biking and hiking experience. As part and parcel of a competition to enhance the visual and connective aspects of the trail, the organizers identified four “stations” along the way where the journey could take on additional meaning.


The illustrations and directions in the competition brief provided the competitors with a clear and exemplary framework for presenting creative solutions.

Map © Twin Creeks Design Competition

Besides geographical challenges, competitors were asked to provide illustrative designs for four design scenarios within the park:


  • Trailhead
    • Trail connection to a development node
    • Trail intersection with a parkway
    • Trail interface with an adjacent residential development


In contrast to some previous park competitions, there was no intention by the sponsor to engage a winner as lead designer. Strictly an ideas competition, where the sponsor reserved the right to use some of the ideas from the top entries, three first place winners were selected among 40 entries.


They were:

  • Apliz Architecture from Borba, Protugal;
  • Cadaster from Brooklyn, NY
  • Small Wonders from Seattle and New York


All three used variations in the pathways, shelter and lighting to enhance the trail experience. As an urban park, the challenge here was as much about protecting a sensitive environmental feature from encroaching development as adding a valuable gem to the region. Some of the finalists appeared to recognize this element of the program as the essential challenge.



Apliz Architecture – Borba, Portugal:

Click to enlarge (Images © Apliz Architecture)



Cadaster – Brooklyn, NY

Click to enlarge (Images © Cadaster)


Small Wonders – Seattle, WA and New York, NY

Click to enlarge (Images © Small Wonders)