SSHRC grants $2.5M to a partnership on Quality in the Built Environment

The $8.6M research partnership includes 14 universities, 70 researchers and 68 public and private organizations at the municipal, provincial and national levels.

A major research partnership on quality in the built environment is bringing together 14 universities, 70 researchers and 68 public and private organizations at the municipal, provincial and national levels, for the first time.

Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada until 2027, the total value of this partnership will be $8.6M ($2.5M from SSHRC, $6.1M from partners including $4.2M in-kind contributions).

Coordinated, from the University of Montreal, by the Canada Research Chair in Architecture, Competitions and Mediations of Excellence (CRC-ACME), the partnership “Quality in Canada’s Built Environment: Roadmaps to Equity, Social Value and Sustainability” addresses the diversity of public environments impacting the everyday life of millions of Canadians in urban spaces, buildings and landscapes.

The program has three aims:
1. Analyzing the current limitations of environmental norms and sustainability models to bring us closer to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);
2. Co-designing new paths to equity, diversity and inclusion in the built environment;
3. Defining new frameworks for the definition of quality so as to enhance the social value of the built environment through roadmaps to quality.

To achieve these objectives, the partnership brings together four sets of stakeholders concerned with the use, scientific study, planning, design, construction and management of built environments:

  • Citizens (representatives of communities including minorities and underrepresented populations).
  • Cities (national, provincial and municipal actors in the public procurement of built environments).
  • Organizations assessing quality (professional associations, award-granting institutions, councils, cities).
  • Universities (interdisciplinary research teams).

The project gathers 14 Canadian universities, including all of those with schools of architecture, as well as most landscape architecture and environmental design departments. It mobilizes 23 disciplines concerned with the impact of built environments on citizens. Sixty-eight partner organizations, including national institutions and not-for-profits, will join in a conversation pertaining to four thematic clusters to address urgent considerations on quality relative to:

1- Spatial justice and heightened quality of life;
2- Integrated resilience, material culture and adaptive reuse;
3- Inclusive design for health, wellness, aging and special needs;
4- Processes and policies supporting the reinvention of built environments.

This collaborative effort will stimulate training, internships and connections between hundreds of students and communities of practice. The partnership will engage in the cross-sectoral co-creation of knowledge, whose outcomes will take the form of “roadmaps to quality” (guidebooks, analyses of case studies, resources for design thinking and proposals for public policies, etc.).

These will constitute a bilingual Living Atlas on Quality in the Built Environment, set on a digital platform created with the support of the Canada Foundation for Innovation.