The Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux de la Mauricie-et-du-Centre-du-Québec (CIUSSS MCQ) contacted Professor Virginie LaSalle to help with the interior design of a new model of transitional housing for young people aged 8 to 14 with a complex multi-problematic profile.
These transitional housing spaces must be designed to meet the specific needs of the targeted clientele as well as the clinical practitioners working there. It is essential that the facilities be safe, durable and adapted to the activities taking place in the various spaces. In addition, it is expected that the atmosphere of these places will be different from an “institutional” atmosphere; in this sense, we wish to create a welcoming and soothing atmosphere, adapted to the sensory characteristics of the young people who stay there.
The primary objective of the preferred approach is to ensure the quality of the living spaces whose plans were initially developed by a commissioned architect, and to propose ways of improving these facilities in support of the clinical environment. With this intention, the work is carried out in relation to that of the interior designer Julien Delannoy, mandated for this project by the CIUSSS MCQ. The steps taken must eventually be integrated into a “Design Guide” produced in order to provide recommendations and findings that will inform comparable projects.

Implemented approach
The approach implemented includes (1) the production of a report with general recommendations on the interior design of the transitional housing model for youth with a complex multi-problematic profile, developed for the ICSSS MCQ. This document will focus on design principles to be respected and best design practices, in support of the ICSUSS and design team’s decisions. The codesign workshop (2) held in Trois-Rivières with clinical stakeholders, residents’ families and ICSUSS officials (October 2019) provided an opportunity to test the preliminary design proposals against the experiential knowledge and expertise of the various future users of the site. Finally, coordination was ensured between the consulting team and the design team to ensure the transfer of knowledge and the smooth functioning of the design process.

Virginie Lasalle, Anne Cormier and Denis Bilodeau
research funded by the Integrated University Center of Health and Social Services of the Mauricie-et-du-Centre-du-Québec



While the appropriateness of the architectural framework and its interior design must ensure the safety and functionality of the place, it also has a direct impact on the well-being of the person through the possibility of a meaningful experience of the place, through the level of comfort, through the quality and diversity of social interactions it promotes. This impact is tenfold with autistic people, who are characterized by an exacerbated sensitivity to their environment and by different communication modalities and needs, all of which sometimes have a major impact on their ability to adapt to their environment. Although there is now a significant amount of literature on the design of environments for people with autism from specialists in planning and the human and social sciences, no study has been identified that integrates these different perspectives. The perspective of people with autism itself is rare, as autism is increasingly recognized as a variant of human diversity in its own right, and people with autism as partners in understanding and developing responses to their needs.

It is the need to gain a refined understanding of the experience of people with autism in the built environment and the factors affecting their well-being that led researchers in interior design, psychiatry and information sciences to develop this project with the inclusion of people with autism, in order to implement a design device for the built environment, with, by and for people with autism. This research has three objectives: A] to evaluate design strategies for existing places specifically intended for people with autism and, on this basis, to project paths of innovation; [B] to describe and characterize the components of the built environment influencing the well-being of people with autism; [C] to design a pedagogical formula in interior design for the co-design of the built environment based on the experience of people with autism. The project has three components: 1] a post-occupational evaluation of existing spaces intended for people with autism; [2] the implementation of an educational formula for co-design based on the experience of people with autism, in the university context of interior design workshops; and [3] the online consultation of a large pool of potential users with the help of the virtual environment proposals produced during part 2 of the research.

This research proposes a unique scientific orientation by developing a three-step process to understand, evaluate and integrate into design practices the factors that promote the well-being of people with autism. Its innovative approach stands out by reversing dominant paradigms and placing people with autism in a position of power through their status as co-designers and partners. This study will enable the development of innovative, rigorous design practices rooted in experiential knowledge, necessary for developers of inclusive living environments, designed with neurodiversity in mind and adapted to the plurality of occupants. The targeted results could have a major impact on the well-being and autonomy of people with autism and promote their participation in active social life.

Virginie Lasalle, Cynthia Hammond, Bechara Helal with Baudouin Forgeot d’Arc (psychiatry) and Vincent Larivière (information sciences)
research funded by the Fonds de Recherche Québec Société Culture (programme intersectoriel Audace) 2017-2021



The project, The Layout of the Common, reconsiders and rethinks the design of public spaces in the context of Montreal for the last 25 years. It identifies the trends that mark the production of the built public domain in the Quebec metropolis by proposing to redesign the definition of community-individual relations through research-creation. The project studies how the City of Montreal and its boroughs have implemented or modified the physical interfaces used to connect administrative and political entities to the city’s occupants. The research methodology is based on case studies at different scales and of different types, including the recycling bin, bus shelters, Municipal Court service points, eco-centers and Accès Montréal offices. The subject of study is therefore public space in a very broad sense, bringing together urban civic and political space with everyday experience. Over the three-year course of the project we plan to establish a case inventory and conduct in-depth research on a selection of ten to twelve projects. Our methods include documentary research, field photography, analysis by drawing and interviews with people who participated in the development of the projects. Our objective, at the end of these three years, is to be able to establish links between the various projects studied, to synthesize this facet of the development of Montreal’s public and political space and to suggest some avenues for reflection on its future development. It is thus a question of renewing our collective conception of public spaces, while raising questions about ethics and representation in the design project, important issues in the current social, economic and political context.

Thomas-Bernard Kenniff, Virginie Lasalle, Anne Cormier and Louise Pelletier
research funded by the Fonds de Recherche Québec Société Culture (soutien à la relève professorale) 2017-2021



This research by design project proposes an inventory of rest stops in the Quebec road network in order to explore, through the design project, their relationship to the territory, the government and the cultural imagination. It is based on seeing, in the rest stop, not only an offer of services to travellers, but also a biopolitical device deployed at the scale of the territory.

The rest stop involves provincial politics and bureaucracy, mechanisms for privatizing public goods, cultural and biological identity, gender issues, body management, public hygiene and illicit practices. Far beyond their potential as places that can enhance the territory and the local landscape, rest stops form a vast constellation of cultural interfaces that link the machinery of government with people on the move. They thus express the assumption of responsibility by the state or municipality for the biological functions of travelers, reinforce the socio-material arrangement of the territory while being a place of differentiation and, above all, actively participate in the control and regulation of these functions and this organization by territorializing them.

In Quebec, the development of road parks went hand in hand with the modernization of the state and the construction of the road network in the second half of the 20th century. The great majority of roadside rest areas were built in the 1960s and 1970s, and they retain an allusive architectural language in the vernacular and a link with the state (management). Although they are models of “non-places”, their architecture and the government responsibility give the park of Quebec rest stops a symbolic link to the cultural identity inscribed in the territory and the public assumption of responsibility for services to travellers. The project to modernize the rest stops in Quebec, managed by the Ministère des Transports du Québec (MTQ), has been developing slowly for nearly 30 years but has accelerated in the 2000s. The MTQ, which manages 102 of the province’s rest stops (213 are municipal), is in the process of producing surveys for their modernization and potential privatization. We are therefore at a key moment in the transformation of the road park network, a situation that calls for and justifies a look at the place these rest stops occupy in the collective imagination and their links with the territory. Incidentally, one of the main contributions of the project lies in the particular context of the lack of documentation of rest stops and the importance of making a survey (other than technical) in the wake of their modernization.

The project includes documentation in the field, exploration through photography and drawing in a first phase of investigation, data synthesis and experimentation leading eventually, in a second phase, to the realization of a book and an exhibition.

Thomas-Bernard Kenniff, Bechara Helal and Virginie Lasalle
research funded by l’Université du Québec à Montréal



While many architectural historians work in campus settings, and despite the campus being a verdant site for architectural experimentation for architects, campuses have attracted relatively little attention in architectural history writing. Paul Turner argues that the campus is “an American planning tradition”: He explains, “campus sums up the distinctive physical qualities of the American college” (Turner, p. 4). Though it may have originally been intended for the socialization of white American men, Stefan Muthesius shows how the typology became transnational in the post-war educational building boom of the United States, England, Canada, West Germany, and France. Earlier, colleges abroad with missionary roots (Bogazici in Turkey, AUB in Lebanon, AUC in Egypt, Dōshisha University in Japan, EWHA in Korea, Ginling in China, etc) translated the campus typology into non-Western contexts as part of their founders’ attempts to influence local populations, a form of “soft power.” Recent outsourcing of metropolitan universities’ brands in the Global South, in the Gulf States, in Singapore, China, etc., has once again lead to the creation of new campuses as well as heated debates on the implications and impact of such satellite campuses on home bases in North America and Europe.

Spaces of education are examples of Foucault’s “swarming institutions.” Organized education was never intended to “liberate” society. It was always for pragmatic concerns, e.g. for disciplining society, inculcating ideology (e.g. religion, nation states, imperialistic agendas) or maintaining social, racial and class distinction. Today, commercial interests seem to steer the planning and design of knowledge institutions; from the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain to new American campuses and museums in the Gulf States or in Singapore (Yale) and China (Liverpool). Whatever their initial motivations may be, contemporary institutions of transcultural learning can never be simply transplants of foreign formal attitudes or vehicles of imposed ideology, or “outposts of empire.” They are also constituted by locally driven change, and, as such, act as independent cultural agents that work transnationally.

What kind of pedagogical models does the design of campuses suggest and promote? How do campuses work as part of larger networks of knowledge institutions? What do we know about the campus typology as it has been translated globally? Crucially at this time of globalization and digital distant learning, are universities developing self-conscious spatial models that align with their pedagogical missions? How does campus design impact architecture and cities beyond the physical limits of the campus?

This research examines the relationship between pedagogy and spatial imagination in campus landscapes.

2 projects :

  • Spatializing the Missionary Encounter funded by the SSHRC 2013-2017.
  • Building Architectural Networks: American Missionary Schools in the Eastern Mediterranean funded by the FQRSC 2013-2018.

Ipek Tureli, Jean-Pierre Chupin et Carmella Cucuzzella
recherche subventionnée par le Conseil de Recherche en Sciences Humaines du Canada et le Fond Québecois de Recherche en Science Sociales 2013-2018



Montreal is home to hundreds of housing cooperatives. Several of them were founded by activist and professional middle-class women to empower low-income women. This paper studies how the physical (architectural) designs of feminist housing cooperatives sought to empower women and how their design aspects have been received by the residents.

Part of a longer history of women’s organized efforts to improve cities in North America for women since the nineteenth century, starting with material feminists and suffrage and settlement house movements, Second-wave feminism led to competing and complementary perspectives on women, how they experience and use the built environment and how their experience can be improved. One strand advocated for integrating hitherto male-only spaces and institutions, and another for creating women-only spaces such as women’s libraries, women’s housing and women’s shelters (Spain, 2016). Feminist housing cooperatives fit the latter scheme.

This paper examines several cooperatively-owned and managed housing projects established in Montreal for women. Feminist housing activists recognized that women, and especially women-led single parent families, were at a disadvantage in both the labor market and in accessing affordable housing (Wekerle, 1980). Cooperative housing projects helped revitalize inner city neighborhoods by improving the building stock and existing community networks, and importantly without causing displacement. Feminists emphasized collective spaces and shared facilities that would support diversity, but, as this paper will show, such ambitions ran short of the CMHSC and other funding agencies’ goals of standardized units and the reality of meagre budgets. Even when afforded and realized, however, further problems emerged about participation and policing. By examining how these important experiments fared using oral history and cultural landscape analysis, this research will contribute to current discussions on housing activism and gender sensitive housing.

Ipek Tureli et Virginie Lasalle
research funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council, the Canada Research Chair in Architectures of Spatial Justice and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation 2018-



A true master of artificial and industrialized stone, “reinforced cement”, Pier Luigi Nervi (1891-1979) is certainly among the most influential structural engineers of the twentieth century. Nervi combined his humanistic approach to engineering with an exploratory method rooted in the working of material to determine a line of research and application of reinforced concrete and ferrocement in particular that would enable him to create a body of remarkable works both in terms of construction techniques and architectural forms. During his career, Nervi has participated in the realization of iconic buildings of twentieth century architecture such as the Palazzetto dello sport in Rome (1958), the Palazzo dello travail in Turin (1960) and the Pirelli Tower in Milan (1960). Another major achievement, directly related to Montréal, is the Place Victoria tower (1964) in the heart of the city, which he designed in collaboration with the architect Luigi Moretti.

This project around the work of Pier Luigi Nervi features several components: presentation of a travelling exhibition accompanied by a local component, a public lecture, a study day, and a visit accompanied by a lecture for the general public. The exhibition, entitled Pier Luigi Nervi. “The art and science of building” is a travelling version, lighter and adapted from the exhibition” Pier Luigi Nervi: Architecture as Challenge” presented for the first time in Brussels in 2010. This exhibition will be presented at the Centre de design de l’UQAM from September 20 to November 20, 2020. The local component of the exhibition will be prepared by professors from the UQAM School of Design and the School of Architecture of the Université de Montréal. This distinct and original content will provide an insight into Nervi’s contribution to the development of three interrelated construction practices: prefabrication, laboratory experimentation, and industrialization. Entitled “Nervi. Master Designer”, this part of the exhibition will be based on the documentation, analysis and model representation of a group of projects carried out by Nervi that testify to his atypical approach to design in the production of the built environment.

The travelling exhibition and its local component will serve as an anchor for the organization of reflection and broadcasting activities for various audiences: a public lecture on Nervi’s conceptual and constructive originality, a study day on the relationship between design and experimentation in Nervi and its legacy in the 21st century, a guided tour of Place Victoria in Montreal, and a lecture for the general public on an experience of working with Nervi.

Several sponsoring organizations have already confirmed their interest in being associated with this project: the Montreal Italian Cultural Institute, the Ordre des architectes du Québec, the Petra group, the Docomomo Québec organization, the Pomerleau Construction Industrial Chair associated with École Polytechnique Montréal, and the Canadian Precast and Prestressed Concrete Institute. The diversity of these partners is a clear indication of the unifying nature of this exhibition, reflection and dissemination project. Even several decades after the end of his career, Nervi remains an icon of modernity in architecture and continues to generate great interdisciplinary interest. The present project around Nervi’s work will allow us to frame its importance, to rediscover the lessons of his practice as a designer/builder, to broadcast these lessons to a large and transdisciplinary audience and to engage in fruitful discussions between all those involved in the project.

Carlo Carbone, Louise Pelletier, Bechara Helal and Réjean Legault
Exhibition and colloquium at Centre de design de l’UQAM funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (Connection Program), the Italian Cultural Institute and the Ordre des Architectes du Québec 2020-2021



What do older Montrealers know about urban change? How can we use creative means to foreground this knowledge and experience, and share its value with broader publics and decision-makers? And, how can this knowledge be a guide towards a more sustainable, just, and inclusive city? La ville extraordinaire will support the creation of interdisciplinary pathways to gather and make public the extraordinary urban knowledge held by older Montrealers.

Contribution to knowledge
The four community groups with whom we are working are culturally, racially, linguistically, and politically diverse, and represent very different Montreal neighbourhoods. Our methodology conjoins oral history, community-engaged arts, urban scenography, data collection, and mapping as means to register, creatively respond to, and disseminate the distinct urban knowledge of these partners. Working with digital literacy tools, established and new mapping techniques, and creative, place-based methods, we will mobilize an intergenerational, intercultural, and interdisciplinary approach to our central research questions: what do older Montrealers know about urban change? how can we use creative means to foreground this knowledge, and share its value with broader publics and decision-makers? and how can this knowledge provide a multilingual guide towards a more sustainable, just, and inclusive city?
La ville extraordinaire will make productive links between older Montrealers’ knowledge of urban change, and public, arts-based outcomes. For us, cities are not simply landscapes of youth and unfettered mobility. In addition to serving as a strategic intervention into the escalating ageist discourse in Quebec, our partnership will take the stand that living memory and creative, public storytelling are powerful means to achieve collective engagement and social transformation.

La ville extraordinaire will gather and make public the extraordinary urban knowledge held by older Montrealers. Our partnership will implement oral history research-creation as our primary method, and we will exhibit our outcomes in 2023-24 at an important Montreal museum, Mémoire des Montré, who will help us to make this knowledge visible, audible, and palpable. Our goal of gathering and sharing elders’ knowledge of urban change is ultimately to galvanize more robust and inclusive dialogues about the urban future of Montreal, as an intergenerational, intercultural, and storied place.

Cynthia Hammond (PI), Shauna Janssen (Concordia University), Denis Bilodeau and Ursula Eickerand (Concordia University)
research funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (Partership Development Grant) 2020-2022