Urban housing is a large and complex challenge, and the pandemic has made the systemic issues of inadequate housing and homelessness more starkly visible. Lockdown has been challenging for all of us: being confined to our homes left many of us feeling isolated without our work and social community, or cramped and irritated by our roommates and families; even worse, many of us felt the precarity of our housing situations. How can we improve the design of the support structures (both physical and social) that hold up one of our most basic human rights?
In Housing is Health panel discussion, we hear the perspectives and efforts of community organizer Paterson Hodgson, design researcher Shabaan Khokhar, professor and human-centred designer Jonathan Enns, and Abi Bond, director of the City of Toronto Housing Secretariat. This discussion will step outside of disciplinary bounds to share knowledge and explore solutions toward housing policy and design that serves the wellbeing and health of all Torontonians.
Design for Wellbeing Fellow Maighdlyn Hadley moderates the discussion, and we will close out with a Q+A period.
Abi Bond is the Executive Director of the Housing Secretariat at the City of Toronto. She started out in the community housing sector in the UK and moved to Canada in 2007. She has worked on affordable housing policy and delivery for both the City of Calgary and the City of Vancouver. She took up her current position early in 2020 and leads the City's new HousingTO 2020-2030 plan, which includes a range of projects, programs and policies, delivered in partnership with private and community housing partners. She believes that having a home is essential to our health and well-being, and that it has an important part to play in our economic recovery from COVID-19 and also in addressing long-standing and worsening inequities in our City.
Shabaan is a recent graduate of the University of Waterloo School of Architecture whose research focuses on architectural relief for vulnerable populations, specifically through emergency and transitional support systems. With an understanding of socio-economic disparity and public perception, his research considers the role of architecture in creating supportive environments for recovery; highlighting the importance of the individual and the role of public policy.
Through a recent MITACS Accelerate Internship in collaboration with the Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank, Shabaan has conducted research on the food bank’s infrastructural systems and networks to explore opportunities for more integrated community development and cohabitation. As a result of the ongoing pandemic, he has also investigated potential COVID-19 architectural response measures at the centrally located food bank. Shabaan continues to research affordable housing options and emergency response systems within the Waterloo Region.
Jonathan is a designer and assistant professor at the University of Waterloo where he teaches courses in the Architecture and Architectural Engineering departments. His work and research are dedicated to the empowerment of novice design & building cultures through the development of intuitive design processes and easy to assemble building systems.
Jonathan runs Humanics Lab at the University of Waterloo, an R&D group dedicated to strategic design, research, prototyping, and partnerships that aim to build more democratic design processes and projects for people. Recent work by Humanics has developed tactile interfaces for non-expert design, and envisioned architectural strategies for vertical aging with Toronto-based health networks.
He runs an independent design office named EDO.
Keep Your Rent Toronto
Paterson Hodgson is an artist and community organizer in Parkdale, Toronto, Ontario. She is part of Keep Your Rent Toronto, a city-wide coalition of tenant groups formed in response to COVID-19 and our government's failure to commit to supporting tenants during the pandemic.
Maighdlyn is a proponent of design for wellbeing. Trained as an architect, she believes in the ability of spatial design to change minds. She is currently a project lead at Hume, and gained experience at studios in Europe and North America. A recent MArch alumna of the University of Waterloo School of Architecture, she worked as a graduate research assistant for the Humanics Lab to understand the role of design processes in creating positive spatial experiences.
Maighdlyn has pursued design research about spaces which cater to mental health for a neurodiverse public, and wants to take steps to improve the process of knowledge translation from cognition science findings to design. Restorative environments are an area of academic interest. Through her fellowship at the Centre for Conscious Design, she seeks opportunities to promote health and wellbeing through design. Maighdlyn’s name is pronounced “MAD-lin”.