OURTOPIAS: The DX National Design Conference is here!

OURTOPIAS: The DX National Design Conference is for everyone fascinated by the vital roles that cities play in affecting local culture, economic life, and the environment. It is about how cities can be affected by planning and by people. More than 30 presentations will examine the creation of vibrant, sustainable cities, June 14-16, 2007 at the Design Exchange (DX) in Toronto.

The inner workings of a city are a complex web of structures, spaces, and systems that affect every one of us on a daily basis. City planning and envisioning goes far beyond policy as it addresses functionality, human interactions, and global impact.

At OURTOPIAS, speakers will present both visionary and practical ideas to address issues of creating cities that are effectively functional, sustainable, and enjoyably livable. Attendees will be able to explore in-depth discussions of such topics as the creation of the culture and soul of a city, branding of cities and places, the creation of parkland, food sources, and inventive new buildings and infrastructure options. The latest research findings and technologies will also be presented and demonstrated.

Headline keynote presentations begin with Bruce Kuwabara, Partner at KPMB Architects, who will discuss strategies and emerging models of urbanization and sustainability that are transforming Canadian cities, on Thursday, June 14, the opening night of the conference. On Friday morning, the conference will open with a keynote presentation by Kim Herforth Nielsen of Danish renowned architectural firm3XN. The Friday mid-day keynote presentation will feature Toronto City Councilor Adam Giambrone. Man and Whose Worlds? Transnationalism and the Architecture of Expo 67 is the focus of Annmarie Adams Buchanan Memorial Lecture on the evening of Friday, June 15. David Hughes, President and CEO of Habitat for Humanity will discuss the need for affordable housing in urban environments on Saturday at 8:00am. Glenn Murray, chair of the National Roundtable on The Environment and the Economy, will provide the closing remarks for OURTOPIAS 2007.

More than 30 additional speakers will present proposals that address cities from a global perspective, such as the impact of the use of fossil fuels, the creation of environmental refugees, and options for functioning in more sustainable ways. Cities themselves — their cultures, structures, and systems — will be explored, from an examination of urban parklands, urban agriculture, density versus suburban housing, options for dealing with traffic, completely new development concepts, and economic and environmental sustainability. The vital human aspect will be discussed in terms of how design serves the needs of it citizens, technologies that enhance personal experience of space, a consideration of interaction and relationships, and the influence of the individual real estate owner.

Many presentations focus on Canadian cities — including a look at Toronto’s green space, condo culture, street-food vending in Toronto, how people from various countries and cultures are transforming GTA suburbs, the Downsview Park initiative to transform the former military base into an urban recreation green space on a self-financing basis, and the vast influence of the Ontario Food Terminal — yet presenters from all over the world will propose solutions to issues being faced in cities all over the globe, such as the effects of tourism on historical Italian cities, new options for traffic planning stemming from traffic in Istanbul, cities in India that are far beyond their planned human capacity, and questions about the function of cities and the role of iconic architects. Presenters are also coming from Denmark, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, and the USA.

For people working in the related industries, speakers will also offer surprising takes on the role and value of research, the source and service of design education will be examined, along with presentations about reading plans as a writing genre, exploring emerging smart technology trends and opportunities, and a review of trends in design education as well as the impact of design on corporate performance.

City tours of downtown Toronto architecture will be offered as part of OURTOPIAS, on Saturday, June 16, at 2:00pm, 2:30pm, and 3:00pm. Visitors may also want to explore the exhibits Architecture of John Lyle, Past & Present and Man and Whose World? Revisiting Expo Through Words and Images, an exhibition of 25 posters designed by McGill architecture students under the direction of Annmarie Adams.

Registration is $425.00 for the full conference or $275.00 per day. Tickets to Annmarie Adams Buchanan Memorial Lecture on Friday, June 15 are included with Premium Conference Registration or can be purchased separately at $125.00. Reduced rates are available for students and Design Exchange members.

An adjunct conference about graduate design research and education takes place from June 13-14 at York University. Combined conference rates are also available.

OURTOPIAS takes place at the Design Exchange, 234 Bay Street (at King & Bay), in the heart of downtown Toronto. Information and registration is available by calling 416.216.2160 or by visiting the Design Exchange website at www.dx.org.