Urban Ecologies conference logo. OCAD. Alternatives Journal. A\J

OCAD University’s Faculty of Design is hosting their first ever Urban Ecologies conference on June 20th and 21st. This conference will examine how ecological approaches to design are shaping the future of our cities, focusing on five intersecting themes: information visualization, systems thinking, regenerative urbanism, urban health and community engagement.

With rapid urbanization, it’s imperative to revamp contemporary urban planning to decrease cities’ environmental footprints and foster environmental health. As put by OCAD’s sustainability officer and conference co-chair Jesse Jackson, “Ecological approaches to the design of urban environments appropriate the complex, multivariate, and interdependent­–yet innately balanced–characteristics of natural systems.” This is no small feat, as urban planners and designers must also reconcile social needs with economic restrictions.

Urban Ecologies will propel the creation and sharing of knowledge relating to ecological design amongst the local, national and international participants, drawn from academic, professional, public service, business and grassroots communities. “We’re very excited to hear from our great trio of keynote speakers and the variety of urban ecologies perspectives they represent,” says Jackson.

Kathryn Firth, the chief of design at the London Legacy Development Corporation (charged with developing the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park) will discuss the relocation of urban infrastructure from London, England to distributed locations. Peter Hall, the head of design at Griffith University Queensland College of Art will discuss cutting edge mapping processes. And Teddy Cruz, professor of Public Culture and Urbanism at the University of California, will share how North-American cities can learn from the emerging forms of urbanism that exist in Mexican border cities.

In addition to the keynotes, the conference will feature poster presentations, panel discussions, interactive workshops and student exhibitions.“We’re also excited about the mix of great locations the conference will be held at, including OCAD, the AGO and the various off-site workshop locations,” adds Jackson.

Conference attendees will not only gain valuable industry insight, but participate in conversations at the forefront of urban ecological design. They will also have the opportunity to position their work or organization as part of this growing field–an opportunity not to be missed!

A\J subscribers are eligible for special registration and save between $100-595. Contact our academic coordinator (julie(at)alternativesjournal(dot)ca) to access discounted rates.

Stay tuned to @AlternativesJ for A\J live-tweets (#UE2013).

Julie is an urban planning graduate student at the University of Waterloo, focusing on sustainable transportation.

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