“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete” - Buckminster Fuller.
This advice has been the guiding light during our semester in a Fall 2014 McGill course, “Design and Analysis of Sustainable Urban Neighbourhoods for Energy, Water and Food Independence”. Supported through a gift from Fondation 3E, this interdisciplinary course brought together students from Architecture, Urban Planning and Engineering to design this new model, i.e. this new paradigm for a living arrangement that would contribute towards rendering the many destructive aspects of today’s reality simply obsolete. While two groups explored the possibility of retrofitting an existing, conventional suburb on the Island of Montreal (in Dollard-des-Ormeaux) to make it autonomous in operational needs for energy, water and food, a third group explored the possibility of designing a brand new autonomous neighbourhood on a vacant, greenfield site (in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue).
The "Course Showcase" event, held in December 2014, gave us a chance to see the three groups of students make presentations and share their analyses of food, water, energy, and self-sufficiency for these neighbourhoods.
Watch some highlights of the showcase event (works best on Chrome or Firefox, not IE):
More about the course:
Organized by TISED, this course was offered in fall 2014 to a selected group of students through the Department of Civil Engineering & Applied Mechanics (CIVE 546). Contributions to course design were made by the School of Architecture, the School of Urban Planning, and Departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Civil Engineering and Applied Mechanics.
The course, “Design and Analysis of Sustainable Urban Neighbourhoods for Energy, Water and Food Independence”, took a multidisciplinary and integrated design approach. Students developed their ability to think critically, apply rigorous methodology to complex design problems, and perform technical and modelling analyses of energy and water systems as applied to the built environment. “Design” in this course encompassed a comprehensive approach - enhancing people’s lives by shaping the built-environment based on a profound understanding of local and global forces, physical and social structures, and the impacts of various design strategies, morphologies, and materials, on life-cycle impacts, neighbourhood resilience and the environment.