Continuous Communities

Date: 2017-2018
Category: Educational-course, academic
Form: Major project, publication, exhibition, charrette

Continuous Communities


The last decades have been characterized by rapid urbanization on a global scale and the depopulation of rural communities and smaller urban centres to newly forming mega-regions, superclusters and urban-economic corridors. Simultaneously, advances in information and communication technology and ‘digital disruption’ have resulted in evolving spatial patterns that blur political boundaries, foster socio-economic exchange and transform the territories in which we live.

The Toronto Region is a hub for a diverse group of economic clusters. These economic clusters each have different needs, span across different municipal boundaries, provide a range of opportunities for residents, and have the potential to attract additional local and foreign investment, increasing the prosperity and competitiveness of our Region and our country.

In 2017-18, the students, staff and faculty at the IwB will rethink the Toronto Region as a unified economic Region and catalyst for attracting investment to ask questions about how the Region works as an integrated economic entity.

Project Goals:

Working collaboratively with Toronto Global, Neptis Foundation, and the Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity, the IwB will create an integrated communication design strategy for the Toronto Region and develop three distinct projects under this strategy, to align with ongoing initiatives of the academic partners.

The IwB will focus on a human-centred analysis to create a project that helps the Region develop a strong identity. It will aim to bring various stakeholders together around a common vision for the Toronto Region.



Businesses and people are already breaking barriers and carving out regional connections for themselves. How can we use this as an opportunity to unite municipalities and residents around a common vision for the Toronto Region?

The investigation of Continuous Communities needs to focus on human-centred experiences.

Project Context & Year Ahead

Continuous Communities is the fifth year of a five-year research trajectory set by the IwB to explore Regional Ecologies, an approach that emphasizes the study of the regional scale of cities and their surrounding areas.

The Regional Ecologies Project is a research approach that zeros in on five different city-region types: gateway cities, divided places, interstitial zones, symbiotic regions and continuous communities. Importantly, these categories are not exclusive; they are research themes from which the Institute is building a greater understanding of Regional Ecologies.

In 2013-14, the IwB worked with the theme of Gateway Cities, looking at three case study cities that serve as gateways to their respective regions–Toronto, New York City, and Chicago. The 2014-15, Connecting Divided Places project, investigated the social, economic, environmental, and cultural divisions in Chicago, Eastpointe (Detroit), and Toronto. In 2015-16, the IwB shifted gears and looked at a small region in southwestern Ireland called County Kerry. Defining County Kerry as an ‘Interstitial Zone’, a place ‘in-between’ that has potential to be a future area of influence and vitality, the IwB students looked at ways to promote sustainable economic development in the region. For the 2016-17 Symbiotic Regions project, the IwB conducted a project with Waterfront Toronto and looked at the revitalization of Toronto’s waterfront into a regional hub. 

Stay tuned for more about Continuous Communities!

Orientation & Project Partner Meeting – September 2017

During the first week of classes, the IwB students will participate in an orientation session during which they will meet the major project partner(s). Typically, the session is held at the IwB studio, where students and the project partner have the chance to share ideas about the aims of the project.

IwB Fall Charrette – October 2017

In October 2017, IwB students, staff, and faculty will conduct their first charrette of the year addressing themes they themselves identify through their research. The charrette will provide students with research opportunities such as interviews, workshops, observation, and other fieldwork experience. Typically students from other academic institutions are invited to participate in the fall charrette.

TO DO Offsite Festival – January 2018

The Toronto Design Offsite Festival (TO DO) showcases independent design in Toronto and runs during Toronto’s Design Week. The festival takes place throughout Toronto’s different art and design venues, as well as at the sites of individual organizations.

Since 2013, the IwB students, faculty and staff have participated in the TO DO Festival, principally hosting exhibitions at the School of Design Gallery space, at 230 Richmond Street East. In February 2018, the IwB students will propose and execute a special exhibition about their project for TO DO 2017.

To find out more about past IwB TO DO exhibits see the TO DO Festival page.

Toronto International Charrette – February 2018

The Toronto International Charrette is an annual IwB event that brings together 200 plus students, faculty and industry experts from organizations around the world. The goals of this charrette will be for participants to design detailed project proposals that respond to the major themes of the Continuous Communities project.

Past IwB Toronto International Charrettes include the Balancing Continuity & Change Charrette and the Our City within a Park Charrette.

Work Placement – April 2018

For three weeks in April 2018, the IwB students will participate in individualized work placements. Students will work with organizations and companies that reflect their interests and strengths as identified during the first semester.

The IwB has a wide network of past project partners with whom students can seek work placement, but they are also encouraged to branch out and work with organizations outside the IwB network.

Year End Show (YES) Process Exhibit – April 2018

In April 2018, the students will plan and execute parts of their research findings as a process exhibit during the GBC School of Design Year End Show (YES). The exhibition will give students the opportunity to showcase their findings with a large audience including other GBC students and their families as well as industry experts.

Dean's Charrettes – May 2018

The Dean’s Charrettes are a spring semester academic course open to students across the Centre for Arts, Design and Information Technology (CADIT), completed within a two-week period.

The focus and themes of the 2017 Dean’s Charrettes will be developed from the IDS major project as well as the Special Projects conducted by CADIT during the 2017-18 academic year.

For the Dean’s Charrettes, the IwB students will work with faculty and students from different George Brown College programs, they will also have the opportunity to take on leadership roles and practice interdisciplinary collaboration, while working on industry projects in an intensive studio environment.

Final Exhibit & Presentation – May/June 2018

The IDS students will produce a detailed plan for the project partner that will build on and incorporate the work of the year, including charrette results, Module projects and Major Project course outcomes. The IwB students will present a detailed proposal to the project partner representatives.

Project Credits:
IwB staff and faculty 2017-18


Image Credits:
Jo Enaje

Project Tags:
Continuous Communities, Toronto, Greater Golden Horseshoe, GGH, Greater Toronto Area, GTA, connection, municipal planning, regional development