Institute without Boundaries

COLAB Project Approaches: Key Insights

Over the course of nine months spent researching and proposing design strategies for Markham’s
main streets, we extracted some important insights.

The seven design processes and methods that we identified can be applied in a number of intersecting combinations, or independently, to support design innovation. These are processes that interdisciplinary teams within the municipality can use to:

  • Understand issues from a citizen’s perspective
  • Identify unanticipated challenges and see new opportunities
  • Crowdsource ideas for Markham from the public and private sectors
  • Engage the community in creative and meaningful ways
  • Recognize emerging trends to assure competitiveness
  • Take action to move good ideas from concept into execution
  • Plan strategically for a sustainable future

We learned that many of the challenges Markham faces are in fact opportunities for innovation when viewed from the right perspective. Innovation often happens at the periphery of established practices—when different perspectives are invited to challenge assumptions, new approaches to problem solving are born.

Our most consistent and high quality results were achieved when we worked at the intersection of the municipality, community and private sector, harnessing the knowledge and resources of each to develop strategies that went above and beyond. Innovation in this context is about enabling dialogue and collaboration between diverse partners, and providing a laboratory for new ideas and best practices to be shared and celebrated.

This is an article from COLAB, the final project of students from the 2011/2012 academic year. To see all the posts related to the project go here. To see a summary of the project go here.
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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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