Inclusionary practices for engaging citizens in the future of Toronto’s waterfront (English—live translation available)

Doblin and Park People recently collaborated on a project that will inform the design of Sidewalk Toronto’s Quayside Development. Our research addressed a sticky question: what factors in public space contribute to a sense of belonging and ownership? We took the opportunity to learn from a diverse mix of Torontonians, whose voices are often missed in traditional public engagement strategies. We started by asking people how and why they use public space in their everyday lives. This provided an opportunity to think about how we share space in our ever-densifying city and how we create meaningful connections between people at a moment when so much of our time is spent in close proximity to our neighbours. We learned about the cues people look for in public space through design or unspoken social norms, and how the decisions we make as creators of public space can have intended and unintended effects on how people use and behave in public space. In our case study we will share our findings: a set of design propositions which can be understood as the building blocks of great public space, behaviour modes which represent six of the most common behaviours that we found in public space, and lastly, a tool we developed called mode maps which is a way to communicate the findings using narratives, making it easier for designers to connect the dots between behaviour modes and propositions when designing public space.


Claire Orange, Doblin

Claire Orange is a designer interested in how culture and community intersect, and how that is communicated through the built environment and digital channels. Through her design work Claire aspires to enrich the everyday lives of people, using a design-led methodology to identify and understand people's needs, turning strategic thinking into actionable design solutions.


Elle Ziegler, Doblin

Elle is a design researcher with a background in architecture, interested in innovation that spans digital and physical environments. She holds a strong belief that insights are important clues that will help us unravel the mystery of what it is to be human. She also believes that designers and researchers have a responsibility to make the world a better place by listening, observing and celebrating the expertise of people around us. While completing a Master’s in Advanced Studies of Architecture, which focused on the impact of housing and healthcare architecture of physical and mental well-being, Elle developed strong research chops and a serious interest in the role of human centred-design across industries ranging from architecture to healthcare to business. Elle is an advocate of participatory and collaborative research methods and believes in genuinely bringing project stakeholders to the table—from teens to the C-suite—with an equal voice.


Zahra Ebrahim, Doblin

Zahra is a human-centred designer and urbanist, using participatory practices to engage citizens in the design of services, policies and infrastructure that directly affect them. She is currently an Executive Advisor to Deloitte on Civic Innovation, and a senior advisor to political and public interest initiatives across the country. For the past three years, she has led Doblin Canada (Deloitte’s Human-Centred Design practice), focusing on engaging diverse sets of stakeholders in the design process to address complex organizational and industry challenges, largely focused on public sector and urban innovation. Ten years prior to Doblin, Zahra founded and led archiTEXT, a social enterprise focused on doing deep research with communities to co-design better social outcomes, and through that, leading some of Canada’s most ambitious participatory infrastructure and policy programs. Zahra has taught at the Ontario College of Art and Design, the Museum of Modern Art, and currently teaches at the University of Toronto. She served as Innovator in Residence at Canada’s Design Museum, is a Next City Vanguard “40 under 40 Civic Leader”, and is a United Way “Changemaker to Watch”, and was most recently named one of the “Top 100 Women in Canadian Business”. She sits on the board of Jane’s Walk, St. Stephen’s Community House, and the Toronto Biennial, and is an advisor for Toronto Public Library, Centre for Connected Communities, Progress Toronto, Sidewalk Labs and ResilientTO.