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Scott Strasser

Environmental Design bus tour exhibits urban research

By Scott Strasser, May 30 2016 —

For environmental design students, the city is the real classroom — that was evident at the Faculty of Environmental Design’s symposium for the 2016 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Rather than hosting their symposium on campus, the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Environmental Design (EVDS) took a busload of attendees to three locations across Calgary to exhibit research being done by the faculty.

“Our symposium is looking at how design-based research is impacting the way this city operates and the way any cities operate,” said symposium co-chair and EVDS professor Joshua Taron. “The other symposiums taking place this week are all on campus. We were interested in getting people out in the city to a series of sites related to the content being presented.”

The symposium included lectures at each location from EVDS professors and industry experts relating to urban planning, architecture and environmental design. Topics included performative architecture, small lot housing and walkability in Calgary.

Twenty-five people attended the tour, which went to three locations in the inner city.

According to symposium co-chair and EVDS professor Caroline Hachem-Vermette, the locations were chosen to reflect the content of the symposium’s lectures.

“It’s a great idea because we’re able to not just talk about the events or present the lectures, but show an idea of how architecture and the city itself interacts,” Hachem-Vermette said.

The tour’s first stop was the Horseman Hall of Fame building in Inglewood, Calgary’s oldest neighbourhood. The three lectures there all related to transformation and adaptation.

“Just being in Inglewood in general, it’s an interesting place in the city undergoing a lot of transitions,” Taron said.

EVDS professor Greg Morrow lectured on how small lot housing could be useful to Calgary as the city continues to expand and grow in population.

“Our zoning tends to create minimum lot sizing,” Morrow said. “We’re looking at models that achieve this [small lot housing]. There’s a lot of potential for this in Calgary.”

The second location was the Enmax District Energy Centre downtown. Lectures related to energy efficiency and architecture performativity.

Hachem-Vermette was one of three presenters at the tour’s second stop.

“My research is on solar energy and renewable energy in building communities — the environmental impact of design,” Hachem-Vermette said.

The tour finished at the U of C downtown campus. Lecture topics related to urban culture and community-based design in the 21st century.

The symposium will conclude the evening of May 30 with a keynote speech from University of Toronto professor Mark Kingwell on the future of cities, and a panel discussion on city design. The keynote takes place at 6:00 p.m., with the panel discussion following at 7:15 p.m. Both events will take place at the U of C downtown campus.

Congress 2016 will continue until June 3. The event brings more than 8,000 academics from the humanities and social sciences to the U of C.

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