CityStudio Montreal is an experiential learning program in urban innovation initiated in Montréal in 2019, and that enables universities and the City to work together to solve Montréal’s urban challenges.
Image credit : Thaila Kampo, illustrator
A bridge between expertise and creativity
Born out of a desire to inspire the actions needed to solve urban issues, CityStudio Montreal creates a space that allows universities and the City to collaborate by breaking down the barriers between them.
Modelled on Vancouver’s successful CityStudio initiative, the project combines the expertise of the Ville de Montréal with the imagination and energy of university students to come up with highly creative solutions.
This dynamic collaboration provides a unique opportunity to prototype innovative community-driven projects to create more resilient, inclusive, sustainable, and healthy cities.
A trial phase with Concordia University
Launched in 2019, CityStudio Montreal has entered a trial phase in which urban challenges specific to Montréal, and which require fresh ideas and solutions, were identified by City officials in collaboration with the Citystudio Montreal team.
These challenges were then integrated as topics of study in courses given in three different departments at Concordia University, where one hundred and fifty students looked at twenty-five possible solutions to five concrete urban challenges proposed by the City, and which are:
- _ URBAN FORESTS: How can we identify, understand, and increase urban canopy diversity and surface area?
- _ PEDESTRIAN SAFETY: How can we secure and increase the conviviality of Montreal’s most dangerous intersections?
- _ SMART COMMUNITIES: How can we include civic engagement in the way smart communities are developed?
- _ CULTURAL COMPETENCE AND CULTURAL SAFETY IN THE PUBLIC SPACE: How can we provide and develop cultural safety for Indigenous people living in urban areas?
- _ TRANSPORTATION: How can we integrate new shared mobility services into Montreal’s urban reality?
The challenges give rise to a process of brainstorming and prototyping in the classrooms; then the co-created solutions are presented at the end of the university session during CityStudio Montreal’s showcase event: Voilà !
”The experience was extremely rewarding! It’s not every day that we have the chance to go outside of the academic framework and get recognition and validation of our solutions from experts.”
Harry Karakokkinos, a Concordia University student who presented an ingenious project to improve pedestrian safety around multiple construction sites in Montréal.
Given the success of the first twinned courses in 2019, CityStudio Montreal renewed the experience in 2020.
Initiate a collaborative pilot project
As a founding partner alongside Espace temps and Concordia University, the MIS supported the initiation of this collaborative pilot project. In particular :
- it used its expertise to structure the project and define its impact strategy according to the partners’ objectives.
- it actively participated in the design of the CityStudio Montreal user experience to deliver the desired impacts.
- it supported the operational team in the impact assessment of the project.
Identify innovative solutions with a social and environmental impact for Montréal
The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the complex challenges facing our cities, but it has also intensified them. It is therefore important to adopt new perspectives to address social, economic and environmental issues.
CityStudio Montreal is an ideal space to explore the changes needed for a more resilient city. Thanks to its collaborative approach, this project fosters unusual collaborations between different stakeholders, who are not used to working together, and generates new and meaningful solutions to improve our communities. The project is thus completely in line with the activities of the MIS, which has the capacity to host into its various programs innovative projects with a high potential for social and environmental impact that emerge from initiatives such as CityStudio Montreal in order to support their development in their seed phase, a decisive step in any innovation process.