The dawn of a new decade is ushering in a critical shift in how people live and work. With space and natural resources under increasing pressure, architects, designers and planners are grappling with solutions to meet the growing demands of urban life.
The 2020 edition of IDS Toronto, which takes place in Toronto between Jan 16-19 will be a key part of this discussion.
In its 22nd year, the IDS is setting its sights on the future: The four-day conference at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre will bring together nearly 14,000 architects, developers, real estate institutions and industry professionals from various sectors to debate design and regulatory solutions to evolving expectations in housing and workspaces.
“Certain needs are changing within our infrastructure in living in an urban centre, but our policies haven’t changed with the times,” said Karen Kang, managing director and head of content at IDS Toronto.
“We aim to broker conversations about these things where we not only educate our professional audience about ideas and trends, but we also invite urban planners and city builders to foster this conversation in a bigger way.” And the forces influencing this evolution are only accelerating.
As housing prices climb and urban living becomes more isolated, Canadians are seeking out affordable options, such as co-living – a setup where residents share spaces and services to cut back on costs. By 2021, the supply of co-living spaces is expected to grow by 84 per cent, according to a study by real estate firm JLL.
To address the current complications of co-living arrangements, conference panelists Maggie Shi – co-founder of Roost, Toronto-based shared living rental startup – and Louise Bardswich – one of the four “Golden Girls” living in together in Port Perry, Ont., who fought their municipality’s opposition to their senior co-living setup – will discuss how to expand this housing option through negotiating client needs and legislative barriers.
“All urban cities are talking about co-living and affordability and building community at the same time,” Kang says. “A lot of co-living is about finding a home at an accessible price point, but also about creating community.”
While cities navigate expanding living and workplace expectations, councillors and policymakers are doing so under the pressure of changing environmental conditions, Kang notes.
Sustainability is a key concern: Designers are constantly working to figure out how to source local and environmentally-friendly materials while urban planners assess methods to curb flooding, drought and other effects of climate change.
Germany-based architect Francis Kéré, 2004 winner of the Aga Khan award and a keynote speaker at the IDS, has been using sustainable materials and construction techniques for more than a decade.
Due to depleting resources, pollution, rapid population growth and urbanisation, all infrastructure planning will inevitably need to adopt this design strategy, he says.
“There simply is no other way,” Kéré says. “As need increases and resources diminish, the human population has to figure out a way to work with what remains.
Throughout my career, I have witnessed more and more people in my field looking toward sustainable solutions.” In 2016, Kéré designed the Lycée Schorge Secondary School in Burkina Faso near the West African nation’s third largest city by population – and he constructed the school using locally available building materials, like fast-growing species’ of wood and regionally-specific stones.
“In their educational facilities, 21st-century education is taking place and we want that to continue, so a big factor in the design here was longevity,” Kéré says.
Sustainable building principles go beyond just the materials and design influences used; Kéré also plans his buildings with the long game in mind.
The Lycée Schorge building needs “little maintenance and [was] designed to be around for a long time while maintained with locally available knowledge,” he says.
Kéré is excited to pass on the lessons he’s learned about sustainable architecture at the IDS, as attendees look for answers about planning living and working spaces in an ever-changing world.
“It is important to highlight connections and understand how one thing informs the other,” Kéré says. “I will be speaking about how that takes place in what I do and (how it) is crucial to my understanding of architecture.”
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