The 2020 edition of the Student Ideas Competition for Canada’s Capital was launched during winter 2019. Participants had until the beginning of May 2020 to present their submission.

The Urban Design Challenge invited students from across the country to come up with innovative design ideas for one of the two study areas:

  • Gatineau Park Visitor Centre
  • Sussex Courtyards

Gatineau Park Visitor Centre

Gatineau Park is a 361-square-kilometre conservation park, stretching roughly 50 kilometres northwest from downtown Ottawa. The Park is a valuable ecological and recreational resource that receives 2.6 million visits made by tourists and local residents each year. The Visitor Centre is the primary arrival and information point for Park visitors, and operational hub for NCC staff.

The challenge: Imagine a new Gatineau Park Visitor Centre that would better accommodate and serve Park users.

Winning design

Team: Lyric Barnik
Faculty: Architecture Program
School: University of Waterloo

As the first point of contact and for people entering Gatineau Park, the Visitor Centre must respect primarily its natural and cultural contexts. The proposed centre reflects culture and sustainable innovation, and its thoughtful design creates a destination rather than a checkpoint. An archipelago of programs takes shape, and provides spaces for work, play, transport, community and education.

Wood and light sculpt these forms, imbuing them with a naturally soothing atmosphere. Carbon neutrality is incorporated into every aspect of the design, from formal massing to energy consumption.

Sussex Courtyards

The Sussex Courtyards are important public spaces within the historic ByWard Market area in downtown Ottawa. With a street grid laid out by Colonel John By in the 1820s, the ByWard Market has some of the city’s oldest buildings. Today, the ByWard Market is a vibrant mix of commercial and residential properties.

The challenge: Propose new ideas to animate, enhance and revitalize the Sussex Courtyards, to revitalize.

Winning design

Team: Yuan Li, Siqing Hu and Yuxin Ti
Faculty: Architecture, Landscape and Design
Faculty advisor: Mark Sterling
School: University of Toronto

The illuminated path goes through all five courtyards, connecting them.

Beaux-Arts Court: The sight view from the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica to the Tin House Court is preserved, and the trellis, step theatre and central fountain plaza provide space for outdoor art exhibitions.

Tin House Court: The green canopy and spacious plaza give opportunities for leisure, catering and events.

Jeanne d’Arc Court: Centred on a bear sculpture, a rotatable fountain and a square set up to form a stage for dancing, and a skating rink during the winter.

York Court: A dome covers the place, and the temporary pavilion provides space for seasonal craft markets.

Clarendon Lane: A place for outdoor movies is created along the lane.

Clarendon Court: A sports structure and open-air coffee shop bring vitality to the venue, and the moon shapes on the arches and coloured lights on the porch bring fun to the night.


A jury of interdisciplinary planning, design and site management professionals reviewed the submissions and selected the competition winners:

2023 Challenge

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