City Systems is a multi-year project conducted by the Institute without Boundaries (IwB) at George Brown College in Toronto, Canada. The project helps students studying ‘Interdisciplinary Design Strategy’ understand and design more resilient cities during an intensive, hands-on project year. The class of 2011-12 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 neighborhood: a model sustainable community supported by a 3-way partnership between municipality, local businesses and residents.
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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.
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 an urban farm and nature preserve that teaches 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.