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Concordia researchers explore urban sustainability and resilience

JAN. 9 to 23: The public is invited to Cities: Urban Essentials
January 8, 2019
Nadia Bhuiyan: “This theme is a great way to bring in the communities around us.”
Nadia Bhuiyan: “This theme is a great way to bring in the communities around us.” | Photo by Roxanne Desgagnés on Unsplash

A program exploring the power and potential of cities is coming to Concordia’s
 4TH SPACE, which officially launches later this month.

Cities: Urban Essentials aims to showcase Concordia research around making urban areas more sustainable, livable and resilient. It will take place over several days between January 9 and 23 at the innovative and versatile new venue on the ground floor of the J.W. McConnell (LB) Building.

The program was organized by Nadia Bhuiyan, vice-provost of Partnerships and Experiential Learning; Jason Ens, Maude Lecourt and Caroline Baril from the Office of the Provost and Vice-President, Academic; along with the rest of the 4TH SPACE team.

Bhuiyan says she hopes the event will highlight a lot of the interesting work happening at Concordia around the subject of cities, and explore new ideas for Montreal in 2019.

“The theme will be a great way to bring in the communities around us to help them see the work being done for the city by our students and researchers,” she says. 

Bhuiyan adds that the program was a natural fit for the university and its nine strategic directions

“Concordia is an emerging centre of excellence in the area of smart, sustainable and resilient communities and cities.” 

‘Great responsibility toward future generations’

Cities: Urban Essentials will offer a collection of presentations, workshops, installations and events on a range of topics, including climate change, land consumption and sustainable development in Montreal.

Jochen Jaeger, associate professor in the Department of Geography, Planning and Environment, kicks off the program on Thursday, January 10 with a presentation on his research with former Concordia master’s student Naghmeh Nazarnia. They found that Montreal’s urban sprawl has grown exponentially in recent decades.

“The doubling of urban sprawl in Montreal has been over 15 years. That’s just unbelievably fast,” Jaeger says. 

“We need to think about how we’re treating nature and the environment. There are various issues, but the main challenge is, on average, each person is taking up more space.”

He notes that the urban planning horizons of cities like Montreal are misaligned with the timeline for those who come after us. 

“All the things we’re doing today come with great responsibility toward future generations, and that’s often not considered enough.” 

Community collaboration

Shauna Janssen, Concordia University Research Chair in Performative Urbanism and the director of the Institute for Urban Futures, along with fellow Concordia professors Carmela Cucuzzella (Concordia University Research Chair in Integrated Design, Ecology, And Sustainability (IDEAS) for the Built Environment), Alice Jarry and Kregg Hetherington, in collaboration with Concordia’s Office of Community Engagement, are working with the community of Point-Saint-Charles on Bâtiment 7, a former CN train shop in the Montreal neighbourhood.

They have been co-leading a design charrette — a type of stakeholder consultation with a free exchange of ideas — between Concordia students and members of the neighbourhood on what the exterior of the building could look like. The workshop at 4TH Space will be the next step in the process, to take place on Thursday, January 17.

“Students who are coming from the fields of architecture, urban agriculture, design and community engagement are helping to interpret the wishes and desires of the community and what they envision to be the best scenario for the future of the site,” Janssen explains. 

She is also hosting a performative urbanism salon on January 18 that will include six short performances, lectures and presentations by artists and researchers working in the realm of the city, under the theme of social and environmental justice.

Also on January 18, Jayne Engle from the McConnell Foundation and Patrick Dubéfrom from the Maison de l’innovation sociale will present on the topic of civic futures. 

“This will give us the opportunity to learn more about efforts relating to cities and discuss how universities, and Concordia in particular, can contribute,” says Bhuiyan.


Check out the Cities: Urban Essentials schedule at Concordia’s 4TH SPACE. All events are free and open to the public.


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