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No.9 in collaboration with the Toronto District School Board:
Imagining My Sustainable City Hamilton

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Imagining My Sustainable City (IMSC) is a four day intensive program that brings ecological awareness into Grade 7 and 8 classrooms through an introduction to sustainable urban planning and architecture. To date No.9, in partnership with the Toronto District School Board, has reached over 1500 students, 50 classrooms in each of Toronto’s 44 wards, and five priority Toronto neighbourhoods. Over the past two years, IMSC expanded to Chicago, reaching 70 students in partnership with the Chicago Architecture Foundation.

Building on the success of Imagining My Sustainable City over the past three years, No.9, in partnership with the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB), is expanding IMSC to Hamilton as a part of the Hamilton City Building Action Campaign in collaboration with Evergreen CityWorks and the Hamilton Community Foundation. The call to action aligns with No.9’s mission to educate the next generation about the development of sustainable communities.

In 2015, No.9 will engage fourteen schools in the North, South and West HWDSB cluster areas that include schools in Waterdown, Dundas, Ancaster, Hamilton Centre, Hamilton North, Hamilton Mountain and Stoney Creek. Students throughout Hamilton will be challenged to re-imagine their neighbourhoods as thriving spaces in the city. No.9’s architectural educators work with students to enhance the existing features of the site and to bring the culture and heritage of the past into the future.

Architectural educators lead the students through the four day course, starting with a neighbourhood walk to understand the successes and limitations of the neighbourhood. On the second day the students receive an introduction to architectural design and are challenged to construct a scale volume out of a cardboard ‘kit of parts.’ The volumes are used as a tool throughout the design process by introducing the students to scale, model making and space. Students then photograph their volume to get a sense of the scale and form of the spaces they created.

On the third and fourth days, the students build a scale model of their design while working collaboratively to ensure that their designs work together to create a cohesive vision for their future neighbourhood. Students present their work to their City Councillor and School Trustee, receiving feedback on how their designs may become implemented. The workshops teach the students about their civic responsibility to their neighbourhood and the city at large.

No.9 teaches sustainability and ecological literacy through IMSC, emphasizing nine elements that contribute to the creation of a sustainable city: green open space, transportation, waste management, water management, green building design, alternative energy sources, urban agriculture, public art and design, and civic engagement and leadership. The students incorporate these ideas into their individual designs as well as the overall goals for the project.

Since October 2013, No.9 has engaged 24 members of the Ontario Association of Architects as volunteers in Imagining My Sustainable City classrooms across the city of Toronto. No.9 has the opportunity to engage OAA members and practicing professionals in Hamilton as we begin to expand the program to Hamilton and additional Ontario cities.

The project's goal is to infuse the real world interdisciplinary aspects of the architectural profession with the Grade 7 and 8 core academic curriculum, while giving youth the tools they need to be agents for change in their communities. Collectively, the students' vision for their sustainable city leads to discussions of civic engagement, governance and living a sustainable lifestyle.



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