Application Number: 8
INITIATIVE: What is the title of your initiative?
Imagining My Sustainable City: Community Design and Build
RATIONALE: Why was this initiative developed? Briefly describe your vision for this initiative: what changes would you like to see in your community, in the college/university, and for the student experience?
Imagining My Sustainable City (IMSC) is an educational program that brings ecological awareness into grade 7 and 8 classrooms through an introduction to sustainable urban planning and architecture. IMSC places design professionals in schools in priority neighbourhoods and trains teachers and students in design methods, challenging them to redesign their communities. No.9 Contemporary Art & the Environment organization, in partnership with the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), launched the IMSC program in 2011. This proposal relates to a new component of IMSC called Community Design and Build. College students and staff from the Institute without Boundaries (IwB), at George Brown College’s (GBC) Centre for Arts, Design, and Information Technology (CADIT), will lead this new part of the IMSC process. They will develop and refine the elementary students’ design proposals, and produce schematic designs for construction planning. The project will bring a multidisciplinary GBC student team, trained in the IwB’s design methodologies, to the IMSC program. It will also: increase the GBC students’ awareness of sustainable architecture and planning; connect GBC students to new audiences and user groups; and introduce them to the collaborative design process. The Bennetto school in Hamilton has been chosen as the pilot for the Community Design and Build project. In the spring of 2016, No.9 will begin the IMSC process with a Bennetto class to reimagine and redesign the brownfield behind the school, which is in need of public amenities. The brownfield is undeveloped, bleak, and lacks a sense of place; there are no places to sit, no wind shelter in the winter or shade in the summer. Collaborating with the Bennetto students, the community, and other project stakeholders, the GBC students will contribute to activating the brownfield through the Community Design and Build process. Once the GBC students complete the schematic designs, they will pass their work off to a professional design team that will make detailed construction drawings and source materials according to the budget. Finally, transitional and youth workforce from Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) will build the project on the Bennetto brownfield.
GOVERNANCE AND PARTNERSHIPS: Who will oversee and manage the initiative? How does it connect with other local, regional, or national projects or networks?
Elise Hodson, Chair of the School of Design within CADIT will oversee this project. Heather Daam, Academic Coordinator of the IwB, will manage a team of students and faculty recruited from the IwB and other CADIT programs. The GBC team will work with Andrew Davies, Executive Director of No.9, and the Bennetto school teachers and staff to develop the required design schematics. No.9’s piloting of IMSC in Hamilton is part of the Hamilton City Building Action Campaign, in collaboration with Evergreen CityWorks, and the Hamilton Community Foundation.
OVERVIEW OF ACTIVITIES: Briefly describe the activities of the initiative: when did it start, what organizations and departments are participating? Give a few examples of what participants will be doing.
The organizations participating in IMSC include: Evergreen Brickworks, GBC, LiUNA, Hamilton Community Foundation, HWDSB, Ontario Association of Architects, and the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF). No.9 has applied for an OTF seed grant to support the IMSC process. The IwB and No.9 began a partnership in 2015, when No.9 identified the need to bring the IwB’s design expertise to lead the Community Design and Build project. To develop the elementary school students’ ideas into schematic designs, the GBC students will participate in a design ‘charrette’, an intensive collaborative workshop through which they will select the most promising projects, research materials, consider the general feasibility of the concepts, and finally draft schematic designs for construction purposes. After the charrette, the GBC team will refine the schematics and present them to the project stakeholders.
STRATEGIC LEARNING: What will success look like both in the short-term and the long-term? How are you assessing results? What will you do with this information, and with whom are you sharing lessons?
In the short-term, the GBC students will apply their design knowledge and learn how to work in a multi-stakeholder and interdisciplinary team. They will be connected to elementary school students, teachers, and design professionals, creating an opportunity for mutual learning across age groups and skill levels. The success of their schematic designs will be evaluated by GBC faculty, No.9, the elementary students, and other project stakeholders. In the long-term, the students will be contributing to the revitalization of a community’s infrastructure and communal spaces. GBC and No.9 will disseminate the results of the project to all stakeholders and future participants. GBC will use the lessons from the project to enrich its curricula.
Would you consider your initiative to be a social enterprise?
Does the proposed initiative have potential to be applied elsewhere in Canada? If yes, please explain.
No.9 intends to make the IMSC program national, replicating the process in new schools and cities across Canada. In each city that the program will be active, one Community Design and Build project will be completed. This means that the structure of having a post-secondary design team do the schematic design would also be replicated across the country.
1. APPROACH: Which departments are involved in this initiative? How will they work with community organizations, social enterprise, local government and within post-secondary institutions (i.e. with professors, administration and students)?
The project will take place from March to June 2016. The leading department is the Institute without Boundaries, a think tank and post-graduate program within CADIT at GBC. The IwB focuses on collaborative design practice with the objectives of social, ecological, and economic innovation through design research and strategy. Central to the work of the IwB are real projects of public and global significance that are executed by students, faculty, and industry experts. Students will be drafted from the IwB and CADIT’s Graphic Design, Interaction Design and Development, and Design Management programs. Students will also be drafted from the Architectural Technology program at the Centre for Construction and Engineering Technologies, which works closely with CADIT. The aim will be to structure an interdisciplinary IwB student team from these GBC programs that will work with Hodson and Daam as well as several other CADIT faculty and staff, and consultant designers that will be brought in to advise the team. Hodson and Daam will oversee and manage the team and work with No.9 and the Bennetto School. The team representatives will be present at each important phase of the elementary students’ design work and presentations to the community, thereby becoming very knowledgeable about the elementary students’ visions for their community.
2. INFLUENCING POST-SECONDARY INSTITUTIONS: Will research or teaching within the post secondary institution you are a part of or working with be changed as a result of this initiative? How will the administration staff, faculty, and students be involved and recognized for their accomplishments within the college/ university?
The Community Design and Build project opens up new avenues for the work of the IwB and acts as a cross-divisional pilot for CADIT initiatives. The IwB team will learn from the No.9 partnership and determine which aspects of the IMSC program could complement CADIT’s interdisciplinary and social innovation curricula, especially that of the IwB. The Community Design and Build project will be the first time that IwB students and other students from the CADIT division will be brought together on this type of hands-on maker project with an elementary school. The IwB regularly conducts collaborative design projects with community organizations, but rarely works with children as stakeholders, let alone as “co-designers.” The Community Design and Build project is an opportunity to develop a different model of power sharing in the design process. Rather than respond to their own research and a brief, the GBC students and faculty will learn about working with a new demographic and build on the elementary students’ creativity and design work. GBC students and faculty will reflect and learn about this power-sharing model and be able to replicate the process for other post-secondary design schools. Further, for the GBC students, the project is also a great networking opportunity. The GBC students will meet many influential representatives from the IMSC project network, thereby enhancing their own networks and job prospects. Upon completion of the project, the GBC students will receive a certificate of completion and letters of reference (on request). Students will have an option to apply for credit towards their degree. Additionally, the IwB and CADIT will profile some of the students through the school websites, e-magazine, and marketing division.
IMPACT: What will you be able to accomplish now that you could not before the collaboration? In what way will your organization work differently as a result of this initiative?
The IMSC program challenges students to reimagine their communities as thriving spaces in the city. The program infuses the real-world interdisciplinary aspects of the architectural profession with the grade 7 and 8 academic curricula, and gives youth the tools they need to be agents for change in their communities. Collectively, the students' vision for their sustainable city leads to discussions of civic engagement, governance, and living a sustainable lifestyle. IMSC has been brought to over 1500 TDSB students, and has also been tested in Chicago with the participation of the Chicago Architecture Foundation. Currently, the program is being extended to schools in the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB). The Community Design and Build pilot project in Hamilton moves IMSC to a new and important phase; it brings IMSC out of the classroom into the elementary students’ own environment, showing the program participants that their ideas can become real and implementable. The Community Design and Build project is an important step in transforming the school into a space for collaboration, civic action, and place making. The Institute without Boundaries is a leader in social innovation and civic engagement through its work that emphasizes the collaborative design process and systems thinking. The Centre for Arts, Design, and Information Technology at George Brown College is known for its skilled students and graduates. By harnessing the IwB methods as well as the design and technology training of the GBC students, we will be giving life to the Bennetto student designs. From a practical perspective, the IMSC process will gain high quality schematic renderings that would otherwise not have been possible to generate. These renderings will be used to better promote the program, recruit new partners, and generally work to extend it to other regions of Canada.
Ms Elise Hodson
Phone Number: 416-415-5000 x.3334
Mr Andrew Davies
Phone Number: 647-284-4581
Ms Amanda Nasturzio
Ms Heather Daam
Other relevant information/comments
The upload your budget expenses link provided was not working. Elise Hodson will send the budget directly to Rosemarie Lapalucci.