Institute without Boundaries

COLAB A Change Lab for Markham

From left to right: Pedestrian Plaza, Convergence Hub and Urban Farm

The class of 2011-12, City Systems Year 3 focused on resolving the challenges facing the edge city of Markham, a car-centric suburban community at the edge of Toronto, as it continues to experience rapid population growth. The resulting project, called COLAB, includes a proposal for a new kind of neighbourhood: a model sustainable community supported by a 3-way partnership between municipality, local businesses and residents.

Pedestrian Plaza

A pedestrian plaza and convergence hub are at the heart of the plan. The plaza acts as a focus for community gatherings such as weekend markets, cultural celebrations, public art exhibitions and the demonstration and testing of new products developed at the convergence hub.

Site Plan

The convergence hub is a change lab that offers shared amenities and office spaces to small and medium-sized businesses specializing in research, demonstration and commercialization of sustainable technologies and services. The surrounding areas include test spaces for sustainable technologies as they are developed, and as well as an urban farm and nature preserve that teach local residents about native wildlife and sustainable agriculture practice.

This hub supports and draws new creative people and industries to the region while also  enhancing the quality of life of its residents and visitors. Explore the project in detail to learn how a small team of inter-disciplinary students came to understand edge city systems, and how they developed this and other strategies and solutions for a revitalization plan for Markham.

Highway 7 Project

For this project, students researched and developed product concepts in the form of public space interventions suitable for use along Highway 7 in the city of Markham.  Their vision was to mobilize Markham through cohesion, orientation, immersion and social innovation.

Many successful interventions were proposed including visual landmarks to help navigate the area, bike lanes and wayfinding, technologically savvy art and public furniture and parks to create destinations along the corridor.

Click here to download the PDF presentation.

Atelier SM

During the Atelier SM students explore a series of design interventions at ascending scales, beginning with small. These are intended to spark larger impact through inspiring community change through leveraging minimal resources.

Download the presentations here:

Existing Landmarks in Markham

Distinctive Intersections



Alternative Uses of Parking Lots

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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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