Urban Design Challenge 2020

Urban Design Challenge 2020 is a competition that invites students from across the country to come up with design concepts for important sites in Canada’s Capital Region.

Running between September 2019 and June 2020, season six promises to continue to create spaces where Canadians and leaders in urbanism, design, sustainability, heritage and conservation collectively inspire the future of Canada’s Capital Region.

Over the past five years, nearly 20,800 people have participated in one of the 60 Urbanism Lab events, either in person or via webcast. We expect that this season will attract thousands more.

This year’s conference themes range from the future of transportation to wildlife in urban centres, scientific research, smart buildings, digital transformation and much more. Here is a brief overview of our lineup.

Urbanism Lab Book

Introducing a recap of the Urbanism Lab’s first five lively seasons of programming.

Adapting to extremes

January 22, 2020

Topic: Climate change projections and urban adaptation
Climate change is compelling communities around the world to rethink how they build for the future. Part of this process involves mapping out how the climate will affect landscapes and critical infrastructure in the near term and short term. This Urbanism Lab event explores how cities are using climate forecasting to make themselves more resilient to sudden and gradual changes in the natural environment.

The urban geography of race and culture

February 11, 2020

Topic: Ethnic segregation from a historical and a policy perspective
Why do some ethnicities end up geographically segregated from other populations? This Urbanism Lab event explores the history and dynamics of ethnic segregation in the city, from ghettos to ethnic neighbourhoods.

Nature as neighbour

March 3, 2020

Topic: Urban coexistence with wildlife
The story of urban wildlife is one of challenges and adaptation, whose outcomes continue to have an outsized effect on the well-being of all city dwellers. This Lab event explores why and how some cities are trying to make themselves more livable for humans and animals alike. Come learn about efforts (such as bat boxes, rooftop apiaries and wildlife crossings) undertaken in Ottawa and elsewhere to forge safe and sustainable partnerships with nature.

Student ideas competition: The 2020 challenge

April 30, 2020

Topic: The Sussex Courtyards and the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre
The NCC is once again launching its national competition, challenging students to be innovative.

The changing face of public commemoration

May 20, 2020

Topic: Tracking the evolution of public commemoration as art and event
In the biggest cities and the smallest towns, commemorative symbols occupy spaces from which they remind passersby not to forget. On the 75th anniversary of the Dutch royal family’s first dispatch of 100,000 tulip bulbs to Ottawa, this Lab event turns to the interface between memory and public spaces, and examines how commemoration has evolved over time.

Reconciliation and the city

June 2020

Topic: Working toward reconciliation from an urban perspective
How can cities embrace reconciliation? From placemaking to commemorations, employment opportunities and conservation, this Urbanism Lab event explores opportunities to make reconciliation a part of how cities grow and evolve.

Past events

From point A to B, intelligently

September 26, 2019

Topic: Public transportation success stories
In the minds of many, one of the most attractive features of a city is how easy it is to get from point A to point B. Public transit lies at the heart of this equation. As most urban residents are well aware, the growth of the transit network is riddled with opportunities and challenges. This Urbanism Lab event takes you behind the scenes of public transit expansion and modernization to learn about the pitfalls and triumphs you might not read about in the morning news.

The most sustainable buildings in North America

October 24, 2019

Topic: Excellence in the sustainble building design
Take a trip around the continent to visit some of the most visually stunning, innovative and environmentally conscious buildings ever built. At this Urbanism Lab event, speakers from across Canada and the United States will walk you through award-winning designs that elevate sustainability to new heights, and provide a roadmap to making our cities smarter, more livable and resilient.

Scientific research in Gatineau Park and the Greenbelt

November 5, 2019

Topics: Endangered species, green infrastructure and environmental DNA
Did you know that, every year, NCC lands attract scientists from around the world who are working to advance our knowledge of biodiversity and climate change? At this special Urbanism Lab event, scientists will present their research, and discuss some of their findings from Gatineau Park, the Greenbelt and the Capital’s urban lands.

Inclusive urbanism

November 20, 2019

Topic: Perspectives on age, socio-economic status, gender and accessibility in planning
Depending on how they are conceived and allowed to evolve, cities have the terrific potential to bring people together, and the terrible ability to exclude and marginalize. This Urbanism Lab event asks what role urban planning can play in reducing inequities and creating more inclusive neighbourhoods.

Urbanism Lab 2018-2019 Season

Urbanism Lab 2017-2018 Season

Sign up for one or more of our newsletters