Institute without Boundaries

Universally Local

Year 1 of the City Systems project partnered with the Toronto Community Housing Corporation and examined the case study site Flemingdon Park. Students examined how this large-scale social housing site, built during the fifties and sixties, could be rejuvenated to respond to a world that may no longer be powered by fossil fuels and driven by automobiles.

The result was Universally Local.

Universally Local

The solutions to one city’s problems are local. The solutions to many cities’ problems are Universally Local.  By identifying systems that make up a city, the Institute without Boundaries hopes to address common challenges through new methods of urban problem-solving.  Understanding these systems and how they interact can also facilitate innovation, improvement, and provide models for change.

The seven characteristics of the City Systems Framework represent ideals that work together to create prosperous, vibrant, and resilient cities.  Wellness, Safety, Accessibility, Diversity, Cohesion, Identity, and Sustainability are all fundamental ingredients of a strong city.  The need for sustainable urban development is both a local and global issue for ourselves and future generations.

By addressing the problems of one neighbourhood in Toronto, we can create solutions that have global relevance.


Interior Design Show 2010
The People Power Public Spaces booth by the IwB students won the Best Student Exhibit Rado DesignGenNext Award for the second year in a row.

Universally Local
A year-end exhibit held at The Dominion Modern Gallery at the School of Design currently showcases the work of the City Systems Year One team.

Fabrica del Vapore, April 2010
The students’ award-winning exhibit, People Power Public Spaces, was invited to participate at the Fabrica del Vapore during the reknowned Salone del Mobile, an international design exhibition in Milan, Italy!

Falstaff Charrette

Design teams made up of students from George Brown College, the Institute without Boundaries and OCAD worked collaboratively over four intensive days (November 6–9) to develop new and innovative solutions for the landscape of Falstaff, a community of over 6000 residents. Working with Susan Speigel Architects, a firm with a track record of improving Toronto Community Housing Corporation sites and changing lives, student teams produced design proposals for the TCHC to make affordable and sustainable improvements to this community.
On November 9th, eight unique proposals were presented to a panel of TCHC staff, architects and other experts. At the close of the evening, it was declared that there were winning ideas in all of the presentations, including proposals for new connection pathways, local economies, greenhouse systems and complete site redesigns. Aspects from all of the designs were combined and implemented starting in Spring, 2010 by Susan Speigel Architects and interested students.

Flemingdon Park Unit Design Charrette

A 4-5 day charrette took place in late February on a unit design for Flemingdon Park, a Toronto Community site that IwB students have been working with all year. With help from Mark Guslits (Developer, HOK Architects) and Mazyar Mortazavi (Principal, TasDesignBuild) they embarked on a process of iterations, consulting with engineers, real estate agents, developers, urban planners, and architects. The finished master plan included a plan for implementation that addressed the social, environmental, and economic viability of improving the Flemingdon Park neighbourhood.

Evergreen Brickworks Charrette

In June 2010 more than 40 students came together to design an educational greenhouse and chicken coop for the Evergreen Brickworks site. Working together in interdisciplinary teams for an intense 3-day charrette, 5 teams each developed innovative design solutions that brought education about the natural cycles of life, growth, and the natural environment to the forefront. A difficult decision was faced by the panel of judges but eventually it was clear that the winners were Team #3: Super Cycles concept and Team #5: Play with your Food concepts.

Special thanks to:

Students from George Brown College’s Graphic Design, Institute without Boundaries & Architectural Technology programs; University of Guelph’s Landscape Architecture Program; University of Toronto’s Architecture & Landscape Architecture programs; University of Calgary’s Veterinary Medicine program.

Expert advisors Jesse Dormody of Baird Sampson Neuert Architects; Joanne, Mike, Natasha (age 11) & Jamie Kasunic (age 8); Garfield Ingram of Forrec; Dr. Cameron Norman of U of T’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health; Aracelli Ferrara (age 11); Joanne Frisch of CS&P Architects; William Campbell, Architectural Technology Alumni; Andrew Hordylan, Masters of Urban Planning student at U of T; Evergreen representatives Heidi Campbell & Cam Collyer.

People Power Public Spaces

The City Systems (Year I) team created a display that not only won an award here at the Interior Design Show (IDS) but also travelled to Milan for a renowned international design exhibition. This exhibit is an exploration of urban life, weaving a narrative that ties together individual and collective experiences with the systems that make the city possible and illustrating the power of individuals to activate public space. The audience was invited to join in the process by illuminating the central message: People Power Public Space.



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About the IWB

The Institute without Boundaries is a Toronto-based studio that works towards collaborative design action and seeks to achieve social, ecological and economic innovation. To learn more click here.

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