Concordia University

Futurists in Residence

The Urban Futurist in Residence program offers the Institute the opportunity to be stimulated by deep work in the community through sustained relationships with vital urban actors and organizations. We see it as performing the civic responsibility of the university to embrace the city and support those working for social transformation and just urban futures through access to our research community and, importantly, envisioning creative pathways for getting institutional resources back into communities. The residency is also a part of our larger initiative to encourage meaningful collaborations and community engagement with cultural actors and partners in order to collectively leverage our common resources.

Urban Futurists in Residence 2019-20

Nathan McDonnell


Australian by birth and radical publisher by profession (with Black Rose Books), Nathan McDonnell is a citizen revolutionary by conviction. He believes in the power of community to build a democratic, just, and ecological society beyond the injustice, madness, and cruelty of capitalism. He lives, works, and organizes in the Milton Parc neighbourhood, which hosts the largest community housing project on a community land trust in North America. He is a volunteer community activist with and Vice President of the Milton Parc Citizens’ Committee, which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. Nathan is especially involved in popular education and mobilization around the citizen control of the city (the Right to the City), community economic development, urban ecology, building grassroots citizen power, and solidarity with indigenous peoples and Milton Parc's homeless.  

He and many other citizen dreamers, with the Communauté St Urbain, a coalition of over 60 community organisations, are working on a community-led vision for the future of the enormous site of the decommissioned Hôtel-Dieu Hospital as well as other local sites with major potential for community development. He co-founded “From the Ground Up // A nous les quartiers,” a popular education initiative of several workshops and a weekend-long international conference about the community control of land, housing, and the economy that involved a total of 600 participants throughout spring 2019.

Jessica Quijano

iuf research fellow

Jessica Quijano has been an activist in the feminist community for twenty years and a dedicated street outreach worker for the past seventeen years. Since its inception in 2017, she has been the coordinator of Iskweu (Ishkway), a project affiliated with the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal. Iskweu Project’s mandate is unequivocal: to reduce the number of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, trans and two-spirit people, and to ensure that the police are filing reports and appropriate follow-through on cases of those who have gone missing. With funding for HIV prevention outreach cut to the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal, broad political initiatives around truth and reconciliation remain at variance with what many people are experiencing on the ground in the present moment.

Urban Futurists in Residence 2018-19

Atom Cianfarani

AtomCianfarani BIO SHOT

Atom Cianfarani is an artist and designer whose practice is founded in the repurposing of refuse. Working from an ecological preservationist ideology, her design and art practice examines bioremediation as a means to promote renewal in the urban waste-scape. She aims to reconcile urban architecture with its surrounding ecological habitats thereby making the urban reality more compatible with our natural world. 

In the 20 years she lived and worked in New York City and Brooklyn, her design practice, first in fashion and later in architectural infrastructure, reflected her political and environmental concerns. Her fashion company Gaelyn and Cianfarani pioneered the melding repurposed rubber, latex with sustainable fabrics into haute couture, showing twice at New York Fashion Week's Bryant Park tents and gracing the pages of countless fashion magazines including Italian Vogue, Details, i-D and Elle. 

For 10 years, Cianfarani was Vice Chair of the board of directors of the Lower East Side Ecology Center. She was the Sustainability Director at Build It Green in Brooklyn. As founder of the sustainability design firm Atomseco she has directed and consulted on a number of green roof and sustainability projects, public art and guerrilla art projects in Toronto and New York City. She now lives and works in Montreal where she is a partner in the art collective Et tu, Machine. 

City Inclusive

CI logo

CityInclusive (CI) is a social-impact initiative dedicated to facilitating and fostering critical conversations about technology, inclusive community engagement, and youth participation in the design and shaping of Smart Cities. They facilitate these conversations both online and in person and focus primarily on small, mid-sized and remote communities. By conducting research, elevating historically marginalized voices, and creating engaging and interactive spaces for youth and young professionals to vision the future for their communities, CI assists in imagining more inclusive cities and city-building processes. In doing so, they mobilize engagement and widespread participation in local decision-making processes.

CityInclusive (CI) was created by five fellows, both international and Canadian, taking part in the Jeanne Sauvé’s Foundation Public Leadership Program in Montréal, QC in 2017/18.


City Skins


The “City Skin” is a project looking at why different cities feel different.

This project is dedicated to the research and creation of a city skin which is an outfit designed to chemically respond, react and gather information from the city environment around it. The skin will respond particularly to levels of radiation, co2, ph of the water and air pressure. We will also be gathering found sounds and other environmental data for instance average pace of walking, proximity from one body to the next. 

All of this and emotional and embodied data will come together in a touring installation of city skins where we can look at, listen to and feel the invisible qualities of different city environments. Each skin will eventually be frozen in time and become a chemical snapshot of the city at that moment in time. 

Stephanie Singer

Stephanie is a composer, sensory artist and creative director. In 2014 she founded BitterSuite, a company devoted to creating multi-sensory experiences for classical music. She has created 4 original multi-sensory concerts to date, which have been produced at festivals and venues throughout the UK. She has collaborated with over 400 sensory artists and musicians, and partnered with The Roundhouse, Bristol Arnolfini, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Sense and Heart n Soul with her work being featured in The Evening Standard, Time Out, Vice, I-D Magazine, The Smithsonian Magazine, ITV, The Guardian and on BBC Radio 3.

Stephanie is the founder & creative director of Open Senses, the world’s first sensory arts festival, launched in May 2017 at 25 major London venues. She is currently the artistic director for inclusive sensory arts festival Sensibility in Birmingham at Midlands Arts Centre & Touchbase. 

In 2014, she was invited by Broadcast Music Inc (BMI), the American performing rights organisation, to attend their Musical Theatre Workshop and develop soley as a composer. She received The Jerry Harrington Award from BMI for creative excellence, and was selected from hundreds for a masterclass with famed musical theatre composer Alan Menken in spring 2017. Most recently Stephanie scored Meta, an original piece for a new ballet by the New York City Ballet.

Freyja Sewell

Freyja Sewell is a designer who creates for the mind. Much of her work is aimed at facilitating privacy and mindfulness with-in our increasingly hectic and connected world. She explores this though both traditional furniture and cutting edge technologies, creating spaces and tools for increased metacognition and mental wellbeing. 

Freyja graduated from 3D Design at Brighton University in 2011. During her degree, she won a scholarship to Nagoya University of Arts, which provided an inspiring insight to Japanese design culture, a core continuing source of inspiration in both her personal and professional life. 

Her HUSH chair is in production by Raskl Design and has been part of multiple exhibitions and articles. In 2012 she was awarded the London Design Museum Residency and her past clients include Selfridges and Unilever. 

Freyja has recently returned to London after two years living and working in Tokyo. During her stay she attained JLPT3 Japanese Language proficiency and spent time working with Nendo and Kengo Kuma whilst completing the prestigious Daiwa Scholarship. She was awarded the Furniture Makers Guild Bursary to undertake her studies at the RCA. 

Freyja believes that rather then passively allowing technology to change us by shortening our attention span, isolating us in echo chambers and exploiting our addictive tendencies, we must pro-actively harness it to shape our minds, and so our future, for the better. 

Advisors: Alex Kilpatrick (Chemistry)Helen Steiner (Fashion & Materials)

Urban Futurists in Residence 2017-18


Spherical is an integrative research and design strategy studio based in Oakland, California. They investigate technologies for regenerating the health and integrity of Earth’s living systems.  


David McConville, principal and co-founder, explores the potential of visualizations to cultivate understanding of Earth's interconnected systems. He co-chairs the Buckminster Fuller Institute, which cultivates whole systems approaches to complex global challenges. He also co-founded The Elumenati, a design and engineering firm developing immersive display environments for visualizing scientific data. As the creative director of the Worldviews Network, David used storytelling and visualization to facilitate dialogues about community resilience in science centers across the United States. From 2014-2016, David was the Director of Integrative Arts at the Société des Arts Technologiques in Montréal, developing tools and techniques for transdisciplinary collaborations. He has a PhD in Art and Media from the Planetary Collegium at the University of Plymouth.



Dawn Danby, principal and co-founder, investigates the role of technology in informing design decisions to regenerate ecosystems. Her work as a design strategist traverses scales, from green chemistry to urban design. For the past decade, she led Autodesk’s sustainable design initiatives, founding the Sustainability Workshop. Dawn began her career as an industrial designer focused on ecology, and worked with the late Noel Harding in his Toronto studio on urban regeneration and international public art projects. She has taught graduate courses in sustainability and lectured around the world. She co-authored the bestselling Worldchanging: A User's Guide to the 21st Century. Dawn has an MBA in Sustainable Business from Bainbridge Graduate Institute (now Presidio) and an industrial design degree from the Rhode Island School of Design.

Urban Futurists in Residence 2016-17



 is a non-profit startup dedicated to facilitating temporary and transitory uses for vacant buildings in Montreal while fostering urban regeneration, social and economic responsibility, radical inclusivity and living heritage. Their work contributes to making vacant spaces affordably accessible while mitigating the risks associated with vacancy for property owners. Entremise assists local groups in the co-creation of affordable, temporary uses, as well as those seeking temporary spaces for living, creating and working such as students, startups, and social entrepreneurs. In doing so, they enable a broader group of actors collectively contribute to the processes of urbanization through the maintenance, occupation and eventual rehabilitation of essential assets for the communities of Montreal.

Jonathan Lapalme
Mallory Wilson
Cendra F. Percy
Philémon Gravel


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