Envisioning Community at Queen Elizabeth Public School

Envisioning Community at Queen Elizabeth Public School
Posted on 06/15/2022
Envisioning Community at Queen Elizabeth Public School

Grade 8 students at Queen Elizabeth Public School became budding architects and urban designers, as they collaborated on a sustainable design project inspired by a space in their local community. 


Students in Amy Charlton’s class participated in "Imagining My Sustainable Community," an intensive two-week project run by the organization No.9. The project allows students to pick an existing local site and imagine how they would sustainably redevelop it, with guidance from three architect mentors.


As a practical example, the class reimagined what a downtown location – the former Rideau High School site – could look like. This site is now home to the Rideau-Rockcliffe Community Centre, Odawa Native Friendship Centre, and other community organizations and supports.  Inspired by this, the students envisioned how this location can continue to grow as a community hub. 


The class visited the site and worked together to build a large scaled model representing all of their ideas. Guided by No.9’s Pillars of Sustainable Design, they integrated sustainable features and technologies into their plan. One student added a transitional housing community powered by wind turbines; another designed a basketball course using recycled shipping containers for changing rooms and concession stands. One of the students contributed a rainwater collection fountain, which also incorporated design from his Algonquin heritage and doubled as public art. 


The students also worked on individual projects to present to the panel of architects. They came up with a variety of concepts, including a community garden, an electric vehicle charging station with a cafe, a meditation garden, a greenhouse, an animal rehabilitation centre, and a community multicultural market.


Over the two weeks, the class learned how to use language to inform and persuade, how to build scale models using proportional reasoning, and how public art can communicate messages about community and culture. 


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I've been teaching for about 20 years but have never had the chance to participate in anything quite like this project. I loved watching the architects interact with the students; they were so skilled at honouring the kids' ideas and pushing them to build on them in all kinds of creative ways. I also really loved doing the hands-on building with the students. I hope that this project has helped them to look at many spaces in our community in a new way and has empowered them to seek sustainable change in their community. - Amy Charlton
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Take a look at the gallery below to see the students’ process and the design they collaborated on: 


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