With Ottawa Community Housing

Synapcity’s Placemaking Project


17 October 2018

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Since January 2017, Synapcity has been collaborating with the residents of an Ottawa Community Housing building in Centretown to re-imagine their side garden as a new public space for community gathering.

We’re excited to announce we successfully secured a grant from United Way’s PCL Hard Hat Heroes program for the building of the garden’s infrastructure, while Ottawa Public Health has come on board to evaluate the project’s community-building and usefulness to residents over time.

Participatory Design

This placemaking project brings together the talent and skills of our many of our city’s key urban enthusiasts. As Participatory Design is one of Synapcity’s founding principles, we have loved being able to engage residents every step of the way – from design to planning, to the unveiling event itself later this year.

“This garden represents more than just a physical space,” says Ottawa Public Health Nurse, Ann Nowak RN, BN. MEd. (Couns.). “Engaging the residents to create their inspired ‘place’ can foster activity, sharing, well-being, and a sense of belonging. Placemaking can have a profound impact on health.”

To date, we have held four workshops with residents to re-imagine their garden. As well as making the garden more dynamic and inviting, residents imagine the new space will address other concerns and desires, such as more security, privacy and accessibility. One suggestion was to plant barberry trees along the property line for privacy, while Ottawa Community Housing is providing flood lighting to help with security.

Toon Dreessen, President of Ottawa’s Architects DCA and Synapcity alumni presented his design to residents, bringing to life their co-created vision for their home. He explained: “Getting involved with a collaborative visioning exercise, to bring together design professionals and the public, helps create a framework to show how design impacts community wellbeing, raising awareness of the power of well designed public space to shape our physical and mental health.”

Next Steps


We’re excited to announce that construction has begun and is scheduled for completion in November 2018. Once it is complete, we will announce an unveiling event with United Way to celebrate this resident-led placemaking success story. Stay tuned!