OCAD University, Placemaking

What sets Toronto apart from other cities?
OpenCity Projects went below the city’s gray surface to reveal some of Toronto’s hidden ‘gems’—the unique stories, spaces and energy that make this city distinct.


Toronto’s identity is somewhat undefined and evolving, leaving it open to interpretation. Few urban landmarks do distinguish place so the question arises—what makes Toronto an enjoyable experience? In partnership with OCAD University, we worked with 3rd-year design students to reveal and showcase Toronto assets that may elude visitors and even residents.

Our project began with desk research to learn about urban settings such as the demographics and history. Students visited neighbourhoods to observe people first-hand in public spaces. They conducted one-on-one interviews to learn about the neighbourhood experience from residents’ perspective. Back in the classroom, students developed personas fictional portraits of people interviewed and mapped those stakeholders’ experience to help pinpoint opportunity areas.

In an iterative design process, students designed experience solutions to address peoples’ needs. Selected design solutions were exhibited at City Hall.