Water Guardians - CODAworx

Water Guardians

Submitted by Daniel Borins

Client: Waterfront Toronto, West Don Lands Village

Location: Toronto, ON, Canada

Completion date: 2015

Artwork budget: $400,000

Project Team


Jennifer Marman


Daniel Borins


James Khamsi

Landscape Architect

PFS Studio


The Water Guardians, a gateway symbolizing environmental protection.

The RFP for this project called for a ‘living room’ space and child-friendly zone in the West Don Lands Village of Toronto. The three figures stand as personifications of water, as sentinels and guardians of the water-ways of Toronto. Previously a site of industrial contamination, this site was remediated. The Water Guardians stand guard over the area, they form an arch over a river-way-walk-way; and their eyes light up at night – standing as a beacon protecting a neighborhood close to the water.

The Water Guardians project is 12’ x 6’ x 20’ high, within an approximate site dimension of 25’w x 100’ d. Some of the materials involved in the project are metal, paint, rubber, and lighting.


Our goal was to integrate the project within the context of the PFS plan for the site and district. We sought to raise an environmental theme, because in the 1960s through to the 1980s the Don River was polluted. The re-naturalization of the river, and the current effort to restore the River mouth at the shore of Lake Ontario is one of the biggest projects currently happening in North America. Our idea was to create a gateway piece, but to integrate it with the PFS Studio plan, while maintaining these thematic ideas.


We Worked with lead firm: PFS (Greater site-plan – planners).
The project was part of the 2017 Toronto Urban Design Awards, Large Places
and/or Neighborhood Designs Category.

Additional Information

The project has become a popular gateway symbol for the City of Toronto. It is also a natural gateway that promotes passage from the old east of downtown Toronto into the center.