3 Ways CityStudio Students Bring Urban Innovation to Vancouver


Getting students out of the classroom and into the city is just the beginning of what we do at CityStudio Vancouver.

Students have a lot to offer and we believe they should be part of shaping the city in which they live. Through participation in real-life projects that can be tested and implemented on the ground, students have the opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills they are learning in their university courses to challenges in the city. Not only will they develop the skills needed to succeed in today’s economy, but the City has access to a safe space in which to experiment and innovate. It’s all part of our mission to build a more sustainable, liveable and joyful city together.

Read how these three diverse student projects are making a positive impact in Vancouver…

SFU History | Fall 2016

Collaborating with City planner, Emory Davidge, Rebecca Dowson of SFU Library and the folks at the
Vancouver Archives, students in Nicholas Kenny’s History of Vancouver class produced historical plaques and videos for eight key sites in the Northeast False Creek area to help mark the history behind the rapidly changing face of the neighbourhood.

“False Creek has always very much been at the centre of Vancouver’s identity,” explains Kenny. “Part of the Coast Salish traditional territories, it played a central role in the emergence and growth of the city since the late nineteenth century.”

Working in pairs, students researched and presented stories from the area in the form of plaques and videos as a way to remember both the successes and the failures of the past.

As the City plans for the removal of the viaducts running through Northeast False Creek, these plaques and videos are to be used in the planning and engagement process for the area.

“These plaques were designed to ensure that meaningful stories about the neighbourhood’s past figure prominently in the way it is envisaged for the future,” Kenny commented.

The plaques will be permanently installed at key historical sites late 2017.

UBC SALA | 2016-2017

Working closely with Vancouver Park Board staff Alexandre Man-Bourdon and biologist Nick Page, students in Blair Satterfield’s design class at UBC SALA tackled the challenge of building sustainable pollinator homes that would bring mason bees, mining bees and bats back to the Fifth Ave and Pine Street neighbourhood in Kitsilano.

“[Students] see a responsibility as a generation for environmental stewardship,” comments Professor Blair Satterfield.

Over the course of a semester, students explored different sustainable materials and unique designs for pollinator homes which would not only attract the right species, but fit with the ‘reused’ theme of the Fifth and Pine pop-up park where they would eventually be installed.

“Part of the idea is to use different waste materials, like…recycled paper,” explains student, Sebastien Roy. “Ideally those pollinators are not just objects, but really have a story to tell through their material and through their shape as well.”

Recognizing an opportunity to produce something tangible, both Satterfield and Man-Bourdon continued with the project the following semester, enlisting the help of students Stuart Lodge and Sebastien Roy to produce the houses. The two not only built three functioning pollinator homes, but also the tools to create them.

The resulting pollinator homes were installed this past summer at the Fifth and Pine pop-up park created by the Vancouver Park Board.

Langara Environmental Studies | Fall 2016

As much as on-the-ground implementation is a goal of CityStudio projects, it’s not the be-all-end-all. We work closely with the City to ensure the project outcomes will contribute to the City’s goals and strategies while remaining feasible within the framework of the course in which they’re being developed.

As part of an environmental studies class led by instructor Drew Egan in the fall of 2016, students worked together with Angela Danyluk on the City of Vancouver’s sustainability team to design the We Shore Can project, proposing the City convert a 1-hectare section of Charleson Park’s seawall into a salt marsh.

The students explained that “the first part, a riprap, will be an extension of the existing shorelines at two separate locations, meeting to enclose a tidal pond with the purpose of regulating inputs and outputs (biological and physical). The second part consists of the salt marsh itself and the third part will consist of two tidal channels to help fish, microorganisms and nutrients find their way to and from the salt marsh.”

The team was awarded third place at HUBBUB #7 for their well researched and demonstrated proposal.

“By working with CityStudio we have the opportunity to work with bright people and innovative minds to solve problems…” explains the City of Vancouver’s Director, Strategic Initiatives, Tobin Postma. “When I walk through HUBBUB, I often see one or two insights that help solve a major problem.”

Instructors and faculty members, would you like to learn more about getting your students involved in a City project? Contact Ileana Costrut, our projects coordinator, to learn more!