Tag Archives: Grand River Conservation Authority

Working with Waterfront

Brantford has approved a Waterfront Master Plan. Hopefully it’s a strategic plan more than a master plan. Master plans envision futures that never appear. First phases of master plans do get pursued, however, so let’s hope the first phases are strategic and beneficial, and provide flexibility for inevitable change.

Brantford’s Waterfront Master Plan

The goals (from the Report introduction):

“The Grand River and its tributaries are the lifeblood and a defining image of the City of Brantford. The Grand River valley has a great diversity of natural features and is enriched with an extraordinary historic legacy, evident of the aboriginal and european cultures that have settled this land for over 11,000 years. The Waterfront Master Plan will respect and reinforce this legacy and will define bold new directions that build on the tremendous successes of the City and its partners, who together have established 70 km of trails and hundreds of acres of public space.

  • The waterfront Master Plan will set forth a framework to protect the Grand River and its tributaries as a fundamental public resource for the residents of Brantford.
  • Natural features will be protected and enhanced and the cultural heritage will be interpreted so that all can understand and appreciate this area’s rich history.
  • The trails will be easily identified and accessed, and the network will become a widely recognized destination.
  • A diversity of places to access the water will be offered, providing for a variety of educational, recreational and leisurely activities that celebrate the Grand River and that will engage residents and visitors alike.
  • Appropriate development on adjacent lands will recognize the significance of these locations; be rooted in best practices in city building; strive for design excellence; and contribute positively to the waterfront and Brantford’s image.

And finally, the Waterfront Master Plan will inspire all residents to embrace this vision for sustainability and become stewards of this vital environment.”

Are all communities along the Grand working as hard to build upon this central and defining feature of our region?

Kitchener is working on a park master plan, available here but I’m not sure that the Grand River is properly viewed in the context of a parks plan. The river itself is obviously more central to Brantford and Galt, as the Speed is to Guelph, but the Grand River has the potential to unite us as a significant region in Southern Ontario.

Let’s Talk About Design and Community!

Communication between design and community is often a really long and sloooow conversation, if a conversation at all. It’s usually more a sales pitch. The urban or architectural designer offers a completed idea in a “ta da!!” song-and-dance sort of way and we’re just about done.

We think that needs changing, and we’d like your help.

We’re intrigued and excited about how emerging social digital media can help our design studio, as:

architects, urban designers, interior designers, citizens

to name a few of the hats we wear, to openly engage with the community into which our and others’ designs are built; to talk openly about how particular designs affect all of us. It’s an important conversation that can’t happen often enough, or soon enough in the design process.

That’s why we’ve founded this blog, Design and Community, as a space of conversation, ideas and interaction about the relation of specific designs and our community, centred in the Grand River Watershed of Ontario, Canada.

The usual behind-the-scene project process engages designer and client, and centres about what the project is to accommodate. It rarely engages the community that the resulting design will directly affect. That community includes (among others)

Passersby,     Users,     Adults,     Children,     Patrons,

Employees and Staff,

who must experience and use the design, and must incorporate it into their everyday stories and sense of their world. In addition, and more importantly, our designs have lasting effect on the

natural environment, birds and wildlife,     water and air,     the microclimate,  our collective and individual culture,     our past and future,  and our economy.

Over the past 15 years we’ve help craft hundreds of public and private design offerings for clients, including the Region of Waterloo’s Airport Terminal, retail stores across Canada, and streetlighting for Kitchener’s King Street among many others. We’ve participated in public forums, given lectures and written articles, patiently building a portfolio of successful projects and engagement that illustrates our collaborative approach to design, and how it helps both client and community.

The interactive nature of social and digital media allows us to take another step forward, introducing better design processes that make better designs, and ultimately better places and spaces for all of us.

Over the course of the next several blog posts, and through interaction with you, we’d like to explore:

  • the Grand River Watershed, a diverse community that includes
    • a natural ecology of 7,000 square kilometers organized along a Canadian Heritage River, and
    • a built ecology of 800,000 residents and associated urban form
  • How its 800,000 people, potentially growing to 1.2 million in just 20 years, should participate and decide upon issues affecting these ecologies.
  • Particular ideas of design and community, with emphasis on their relation
  • How design can participate positively to foster better community for us all.

Do we know where this Blog is headed? Hopefully yes! We’re moving firmly into the 21st Century, with both feet (er, all fingers).

Our thanks to Digital Media Producer, Dwight Storring, for his professional assistance and introduction to much of the Social Media sphere.