Main Street Design Challenge releases online playbook for World Architecture Day


A collection of design solutions that can be implemented during and after the COVID-19 pandemic to help Canada’s hard-hit main streets are being released today in the Main Street Design Challenge Playbook, from the Canadian Urban Institute (CUI) and the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC).

The Main Street Design Challenge invited all Canadian residents interested in place-making and design to develop solutions that can help build the resiliency of Canada’s main streets.  Over the past four months, 47 designs were submitted from a wide range of sources, ranging from well-known architects and urban designers to students, planners, community animators, and artists.

The Playbook showcases a range of creative and practical interventions, from masterplans to art installations to modular street furniture.  Some examples include:

  • The Augusta Avenue/Kensington Market BIA Public Realm Masterplan, by SUMO Project, Gladki Planning Associates, Greenberg Consulting Inc., and PMA Landscape Architects (Toronto, ON)
  • The Reading Hut, by A4 architecture + design, a modular cabin that can be sited near libraries to allow readers a private place to read or meditate (Gatineau, QC)
  • Socially | Equitable | Landscape, by student Joy Olagoke and Subrahmanya Sai Anudeep Mummareddy – a design that transforms outdoor spaces, the undersides and sides of buildings into canvases for art and culture that can be explored safely (Calgary, AB)
  • Fresh Start: Back To Basics by community animator DeeDee Nelson, who gives 10 actions to build trust in community (Vancouver, BC)

The Main Street Design Challenge reflects the importance of design in revitalizing our streets, including kickstarting the economy, fostering vibrant, liveable, and healthy communities, increasing public safety, reducing social isolation, and restoring the public’s confidence to return to streets and public spaces.

The Playbook can be downloaded here. All designs are free to use, though contacting the creators is encouraged. The Playbook contains links to implementation details and other information on the CUI website.

“We are delighted to see the range and variety of these design submissions from across Canada, which we hope will be picked up and used to help main streets recover,” said Mary W. Rowe, CEO of CUI.

“We are thrilled with the uptake from the design community to engage in such an important activity to support vital Canadian main streets,” said RAIC President John Brown, FRAIC

The Main Street Design Challenge is an initiative of Bring Back Main Street, a nationally coordinated research and action campaign by the CUI to ensure the people, businesses, and organizations that call Canada’s Main Streets home can recover and emerge from the crisis more resilient than ever.

For media inquiries, contact:

Juan Luis Garrido

416 365-0816 ext. 290

About CUI

As Canada’s Urban Institute, CUI is the national platform that houses the best in Canadian city-building – where policymakers, urban professionals, civic and business leaders, community activists, and academics can learn, share, and collaborate with one another from coast to coast to coast. CUI is leading the Bring Back Main Street campaign with the support of partners from across the country.

About RAIC

The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada,RAIC, is a not-for-profit, national organization that has represented architects and architecture for over 100 years, in existence since 1907. The RAIC is the leading voice for excellence in the built environment in Canada, demonstrating how design enhances the quality of life, while addressing important issues of society through responsible architecture. The RAIC’s mission is to promote excellence in the built environment and to advocate for responsible architecture. The organization national office is based in Ottawa with a growing federated chapter model. Current chapters and networks are based in British Columbia, Alberta and Nova Scotia.

Supporting Partners for the Main Street Design Challenge

CUI and RAIC gratefully acknowledge the following Supporting Partners: Canadian Institute of Planners, Canadian Society of Landscape Architects, Council for Canadian Urbanism , ICOMOS Canada, National Trust for Canada, OCAD University, Rues principales, STEPS Initiative, Trinity Centres Foundation.