Roundhouse Turntable Project

Roundhouse Turntable Project

“Creating a real “people place” to relax, play, socialize, enjoy events, and explore neighbourhood heritage”.

The turntable was a historic public plaza that, with the exception of a few programmed events, was rarely used on a day-to-day casual basis even though the surrounding neighbourhood was busy and bustling. The mandate of this project was to protect, promote and enhance the existing character and heritage values of the turntable by introducing new, more contemporary but historically compatible elements to animate the plaza and create a stronger sense of place. These elements would provide places to sit, give shelter from the rain as well as shade from the sun, create a focal point on the plaza for events and performances and provide an opportunity for food and drink. Proposed list of changes:

  • Turntable bridge turned to a more N/S direction to help create a better defined performance space and to better bring people into the Roundhouse plaza;
  • A crane reminiscent of early railway cranes to support light shelter/shading canopies with cables for lighting, banners, and aerial performances to increase current casual and programmed usage options while enhancing the industrial architectural style;
  • Viewing platform overlooking the Turntable pit to feature the bridge turning mechanism and to create an opportunity for historical Interpretation to tell the story of the historic turntable and the Roundhouse;
  • Mist/steam feature for children and families to enjoy reminiscent of the “Age of Steam”;
  • To create and enhance a ‘sense of place’ and animate the plaza, strong, colourful and playful forms e.g. furniture, modular flexible seating, trees, etc.


The plaza had sat mostly unused and desolate for many years, yet it had the capacity to become a valued public space. By improving some of the physical features of the plaza we are now able to offer diverse opportunities to use it as a public space – whether as a nice place to sit and have a coffee, or, as a place to come to a farmers market, dance performance, etc. The improvements also help fulfill the overall mandate of the Roundhouse as an arts and culture facility.


It was jointly paid for by the Vancouver Park Board / City of Vancouver ($950,000), the Government of Canada as part of Canada’s Economic Action Plan ($600,000), and the BC Transmissions Corporation ($250,000).


The turntable and pit area including the proposed canopy were designed by Nick Milkovich Architects Inc, and the seating and other elements (steam feature with lights, locations on the crane for lights or acrobatic rigging, historical interpretation feature, bespoke seating loungers, crane as canopy for sun and shade protection, sourced contemporary railway track fixtures) were designed by Phillip Farevaag Smallenberg. The project was lead by a committee that included members of the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Society board, staff, and Vancouver Park Board staff.


Get information about renting the Roundhouse Turntable Plaza for an event.