In a small room, packed with local visitors and parents, Grade 8 students from Dr. Marion Hilliard SPS unveiled their architectural plans to transform a vacant parcel of land near their school into a sustainable and vibrant green community.
The result of a week-long workshop delivered by the non-profit organization No. 9: The Culture of Sustainability — through TDSB’s EcoSchools program — students went on a field trip to survey the land. Based on the features of the plot, students created a scale model of their ideal use of this land to enhance safety and sustainability in the Malvern community.
Based on the nine principles of sustainable building, students presented an architectural plan that included housing, an art gallery, a restaurant, pedestrian bridges over high traffic roads and community spaces interwoven with living walls, indoor and outdoor gardens, ponds, diversion and recycling of rain and waste water and an abundance of solar panels to capture, store and produce energy.
A focal point of the design, were pieces of public art made of recycled materials.
“The message we are trying to send is about perspective,” says Maryam, Grade 8. “It may look like a jelly bean, or differently coloured splotches of paint. But it reminds me of us, of humans. We are all different shapes and sizes. It shows us that we don’t have to fit into one mold. It is showing our diversity, that we are so proud of in the Malvern Community.”
The goal of the program, called Imagining My Sustainable Community, is to teach students how to give their ideas a physical form, then to share it with others.
“It shows if we work together, particularly you as the next generation, we can choose to do things with less of a carbon footprint,” says No. 9 Executive Director Andrew Davies.
With local City Councillor Cynthia Lai in attendance, participating in this unique workshop and presenting their ideas to community leaders made for an auspicious first step in urban planning and sustainable building for Marion Hilliard students.
“It was a bit of a struggle but I learned a lot and am confident in my parts of the design,” says Mariah, Grade 8. “We need less cars and more buses. We need places for people to walk out on the streets and become more engaged and inclusive and more included in our community.”