SHIFT2023 Challenge Announces Five Selections for “Health and Architecture” Competition

The Ontario Association of Architects (OAA), has announced the five selections of its SHIFT2023 Challenge, which focused on the theme of “Health and Architecture.” 

From community-based solutions that prioritize mental health to rethinking transit-oriented neighbourhoods, these honourees were selected by a jury of architects and health experts for showcasing the power of design thinking. This biennial OAA aspirational ideas competition recognizes the value of architecture in addressing societal issues. 

“We are thrilled to reveal the five outstanding selections for this year’s SHIFT Challenge,” said Settimo Vilardi, OAA President. “As members of the architecture profession, we can help prioritize the well-being of individuals and communities through our work and our collaborations. In different ways, each of the selected proposals demonstrate the potential of architecture to shape our environment and support our physical, mental, and social health.” 

This year’s five selections offer new approaches in an array of contexts: 

Amygdala, a proposed treed walkway with lightweight steel and timber to establish an elevated network of pathways and gathering spaces through the existing canopies of Toronto’s Woodbine Beach (Student Associate Emily Lensin); 

Finding Balance in the Landscape of Muskoka, a plan to create a 200-acre wilderness preserve and establish a public place of contemplation, repose, and reflection on nature and our place within it (team led by architect Howard Rideout); 

Healthy Cities: Sustainably Adapting the Dominion Foundry Complex, a proposed mixed-use development that aims to adapt Toronto’s remaining heritage Dominion Foundry buildings and integrate new construction to create a self-sustaining and active community (Student Associate Erica Gomirato); 

Hospital Precinct Commons, a proposed transformation of a major downtown-Toronto block’s exterior spaces into a multi-functional parkland that blurs boundaries between institutional care and community-based support and offers a more holistic approach to wellness (architect Gordon Stratford and landscape architect Alison Lumby); and

Scaling Down: Shifting to Transit-Oriented Communities at Human Scale and Human Speed, which says goodbye to car-dominated neighbourhoods and puts people first with scaled-down streets, open spaces, and charming, walkable destinations (team led by architect Naama Blonder). 

These five projects will be celebrated in a publication, online, and at a June 22 event at Science North’s Vale Cavern in Sudbury as part of the OAA’s Conference, Designing for Dignity. 

To learn more about SHIFT, visit