Tara Paashuis at Grad Ex 2013. Photo by Christina Gapic.
Part of Tara Paashuis's project, The Bath. Image by Tara Paashuis.

Tara Paashuis’s medal award-winning project, The Bath, is a design concept for an inclusive, socially responsible recreational centre. Here’s how she describes it:

My thesis project is called The Bath, and it centers around the adaptive re-use of a vacant 1930’s incinerator on a 5.5-acre brownfield site in the Junction. By reintroducing a variety of social bathing traditions, the design focuses on the senses and activities unmediated by digital technology. Accessible, inter-generational programming, and exchanges of “waste” or surplus (water, heat and revenue) helps to establish beneficial and sustainable relationships between buildings and within the community. 

What inspired you and motivated you to do this project?

I knew that I wanted to focus on a public bath, and I feel strongly that re-using existing buildings is far more sustainable than tearing down old ones or developing precious greenfields. The task was to locate an urban site that was underutilized, then figure out how to get Torontonians into the idea of a communal bath. The programming combines the accepted notions of recreation centres and luxury spas, and the complementary activities one might enjoy before and after, like a great meal, a walk in the garden, crafts or seasonal events. I really wanted to transform a forgotten area into an accessible, memorable place.

What part of the process of creating this project did you learn the most from?

The spatial requirements and recommendations for swimming pools, diving boards and universal design are quite complex. I researched these areas heavily. I also visited as many spas and pools as I could in Toronto, New York and Montreal. I learned to listen to the mechanical aspects of the space, and I became quite fussy about these details. Things like the water returns in the pools, the ventilation noises and the dripping of water had the capacity to either delight or disappoint.

What part of the process of creating this project are you the most proud of?

I am most proud of the fact that I just kept pushing — continued researching, refining my design, exploring the possibilities of my site, trying new ways of model making and learning new techniques for digital rendering.  

How did you react to the news that you won a medal for your work?

To be honest, I had been working so hard and hadn’t slept much and thought that I must have dreamed the phone call. I didn’t let myself believe it until I saw the email too. It was really overwhelming in a positive way!

What’s your fondest memory from your studies at OCAD U, and what will you miss the most?

Certainly the support of some really great teachers! I loved the camaraderie of the open studio, and will really miss all of our workshops. Having access to ceramics, wood, metal, plastic and rapid prototyping under one roof makes all the difference in the type of work you can explore and complete. 

What are you planning to do next?

I plan on getting my LEED credentials and furthering my education in architecture, but would like more practical experience first. I recently finished a design/build project with some classmates (portagecollective) in support of The Stop Community Food Centre’s annual Night Market. It’s great to have something actually built!

Find out more about Tara Paashuis:



Bio City Map. Image courtesy Terreform ONE
Downtown Brooklyn 2110. Photo by Melissa Jean Clark, OCAD U Visual Resources

What do future cities look like? Something out of post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie, or something equally imaginative, but biologically sustainable and ecologically renewable? The Biological Urbanism exhibition on now until February 22 at the Onsite [at] OCAD University gallery blends architecture, landscape, urban design, biology, engineering and art to explore possible futures.

In planning the exhibition, the gallery’s curator Lisa Deanne Smith looked at the relationship of design to the topic of sustainability, and one organization kept coming up in her research. She got in touch with Terreform ONE [Open Network Ecology], a non profit architecture group for smart city design, ecological planning and public art based in New York City and began planning a design exhibition with the designers there.

“We feel privileged to be presenting this work in a gallery and to be merging design work with fine art,” said Nurhan Gokturk, Director of Innovation at Terreform ONE. “It’s important to bring these ideas into the public purview and widen the discussion.”

The ideas driving this exhibition are of the dramatic, overarching ilk — world population growth, megacities, climate change, renewable energy generation, healthy living. The intention of the research and works on display is to explore the consequences of radical changes to global cities, explore how the world is adapting to address these changes and imagine what could happen in the future.

In talking about the exhibition, Smith said the complexity of the ideas presented in the exhibition required a shift in her thinking, but when she talked to her 11-year-old daughter about it, her daughter immediately absorbed the concepts and became captivated by it. Whatever your views on globalization and the future, the 3-D works in the exhibition are designed to question, probe global concerns, posit solutions and provoke a reaction. Visit the exhibition and you’ll see:

-A large-scale “Bio City Map” that uses mathematical interpretations of the future together with petri dishes of bacteria and “bacteriography” (bacterial photography) to forecast the world population distribution in the next 100 years.

-A model of the 38,000 tons of waste New York City produces every day, with a vision for how cities can reuse and repurpose to radically shift the relationship of waste to supply.

-A large-scale model of Brooklyn in 2110, as a city of the future producing everything it needs to sustain itself within its physical borders.

Learn more:

Terreform ONE  

Visit the exhibition 

Attend lectures and events


Sanaz Mianji at GradEx 2014. Photo by Christina Gapic.
Design for House of Artists by Sanaz Mianji.

Sanaz Mianji’s medal award-winning project, House of Artists, is a space designed as a stable foundation for artists and entrepreneurs in which to grow a thriving community that nourishes inspiration and innovation. Here’s how she describes it:

House of Artists is a solution for coping with the growing pains of the expanding creative community. The house aims to nourish a strong independent growth, while building a stable foundation for artists within the community. The house will allow the artists to freely promote themselves by exhibiting their body of work amongst each other and the larger community. The major outcomes of this house are to learn, inspire, create, innovate, experiment and grow.

What inspired you and motivated you to do this project?

My thesis project was the result of my own experiences in Toronto, when I noticed that there was a lack of creative outlets for artists and designers in order to create and promote themselves, while learning and inspiring one another. I was motivated and inspired by all the future potential for the creative crowds.

What part of the process of creating this project did you learn the most from?

I learned the most when I had to research carefully and interview the technicians in order to accommodate all the needs for designing each workshop. Also, developing the concepts of communication, collaboration and individuality within this creative community required a lot of research in order to resolve the problems and create inspiring spaces for artists and designers.

What aspect of this project are you the most proud of?

Although my thesis was a complex project, I was able to explore all the possibilities in the site. This led me create design strategies that would carry the conceptual values from the beginning of my process to the end. I very much enjoyed making the process models and I’m proud of how they could communicate the concepts and the ideas as a whole.

How did you react to the news that you won a medal for your work?

Tears of joy seem like a rare occasion and I experienced that for the first time when I was informed my thesis project was awarded the medal. I will never forget how it felt!

What’s your fondest memory from your studies at OCAD U, and what will you miss the most?

I have been blessed with many great memories at OCAD U such as meeting inspiring people and creating a new family that we call the “OCADIAN family.” I will miss our great teachers, all the shops, friends and our thesis space at 52 McCaul, where we spent most of our time for the past year.

What are you planning to do next?

I participated in The Stop Night Market Festival with four other graduates from OCAD U and we have been working hard to finish the design and execute our food cart for this competition. My plan is to work and gain more experience in the real world and I also plan on continuing my studies as a Master’s student in Architecture.

OCAD University appoints architect Will Alsop as Adjunct Professor

Thursday, January 13, 2011 - 5:00am

Alsop’s appointment to be celebrated at a book launch
for Will Alsop – The Noise tonight, 6 p.m. at OCADU

(Toronto — January 13, 2011) The Faculty of Design at OCAD University announced today that it has appointed internationally renowned architect Will Alsop, designer behind the Sharp Centre for Design at OCAD University, as an Adjunct Professor. His appointment commenced in November, 2010 and will continue until 2013.

“The Faculty of Design only offers an Adjunct Professor appointment to distinguished individuals who have the special expertise needed to complement our academic programs,” explained Doreen Balabanoff, Acting Dean of OCADU’s Faculty of Design. “Professor Alsop is engaging with us to develop research collaborations and new educational opportunities, at both the undergraduate and graduate level. We value his unique and imaginative approach, his hallmark commitment to connectivity between art and design, and his interest in social issues and innovative participatory design processes.”

In September, Alsop will being teaching an Architectural Design Studio course for upper year undergraduate students, focusing on the local urban context, in collaboration with architect Greg Woods, who worked with him on OCADU’s iconic Sharp Centre for Design, and remains an ongoing business partner.

“Professor Alsop will make a valued contribution to the Faculty of Design and particularly to Environmental Design as it moves forward in defining its future,” expressed Bruce Hinds, Chair of Environmental Design at OCADU.

“Professor Alsop will fulfill the role of eminent guest critic and lecturer, to both our graduate students and thesis level undergraduate students,” commented Martha Ladly, Chair of OCADU’s Interdisciplinary Art, Media and Design Masters program. “Through his practice, Will Alsop has proven to the world his commitment to standards of excellence, and to the necessity of design for humanity through sustainable practices, creativity and imagination. All of these are cornerstones of OCAD University’s philosophy and strategic plans.”

Book launch and signing for Will Alsop – The Noise
Tonight, January 13, 6 p.m.

Alsop and his appointment at the university will be celebrated at a book launch and signing this evening for Will Alsop – The Noise, written by late author Tom Porter and published by Routledge. The event will be held in OCADU’s Great Hall, starting at 6 p.m. The public is invited to attend.

The Noise describes the unique state of Professor Alsop’s inventive mind before the creative imagination starts, and shows how his design process acts as a conduit that catches the dreams and aspirations of others.

The book reveals the creative and artistic vision of Professor Alsop in astonishing detail, charting the design process behind some of his most celebrated buildings, including the coveted Stirling Prize-winning Peckham Library (2000) and the Sharp Centre for Design at OCADU.

Will Alsop comments: “Tom Porter’s expertise in architecture, colour and graphics was second to none and his passing earlier this year was a tremendous loss,” said Alsop. “It is testament to his brilliance that he was able to tackle such an abstract subject and deliver a book that is both revelatory and entertaining.”

Elements of a collaborative project initiated by Professor Alsop, a “two-city exhibition” entitled EnRoute: Proper Behaviour in the Park, will also be on display in the Great Hall. This project engaged OCADU students in a ‘transatlantic painting project’, with Alsop receiving images from OCADU students working in Toronto, as he was painting two large canvases at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. The project asks the mischievous question, “What would you do in public space?”

More about Will Alsop
Professor Alsop is one of the UK’s most prominent architects and is a respected artist who has applied his bold and colourful approach to award-winning projects across the world. His stance is that art and architecture are inseparable disciplines and he actively promotes artistic contribution to the built environment. He is guided by the principle that architecture is both a vehicle and symbol of social change and renewal.

His many awards include the Royal Fine Art Commission Building of the Year Special Award for Fawood Children’s Centre (London, UK), a project that was also shortlisted for the Stirling Prize in 2005.

Alsop is guided by the principle that architecture is both a vehicle and symbol of social change and renewal. This philosophy extends from the design of individual buildings to embracing broader principles of urbanism and city development. He has expertise across every sector, including transportation, health, education, retail, residential, office, public, hospitality, leisure and interiors.

Will Alsop has worked extensively across the UK and internationally, with major projects in cities such as Toronto, Marseilles, Hamburg, Shanghai, Singapore and New York. Recent projects in the UK include the Chips apartments in Manchester, The Public, an exhibition space in West Bromwich, and the Puddle Dock luxury hotel development on the north bank of the River Thames.

In addition to his design work, Alsop follows a parallel path as an artist. His stance is that art and architecture are inseparable disciplines and he actively promotes artistic contribution to the built environment. His paintings and sketches have been exhibited at Sir John Soane’s Museum, Milton Keynes Gallery, Cube Gallery, Manchester and the British Pavilion at Venice Biennale.

Alsop has held many academic posts around the world. He is currently a professor at the Technical University of Vienna. For several years he was a tutor of sculpture at Central St Martins College of Art & Design in London and was visiting professor at institutions including the University of Hanover, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and San Francisco Institute of Art. Alsop is a Royal Academician and a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He is a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Royal Architecture Institute of Canada.

About OCAD University (OCADU)
OCAD University ( is Canada’s “University of the Imagination.” The University, founded in 1876, is dedicated to art and design education, practice and research and to knowledge and invention across a wide range of disciplines. OCAD University is building on its traditional, studio-based strengths, adding new approaches to learning that champion cross-disciplinary practice, collaboration and the integration of emerging technologies. In the Age of Imagination, OCAD University community members will be uniquely qualified to act as catalysts for the next advances in culture, technology and quality of life for all Canadians.

About the Faculty of Design at OCADU
The Faculty of Design provides a provocative, diverse and culturally rich environment, guiding the development of critical thinking, innovation and responsiveness in the context of human and environmental needs. Our primary objective is to enable students to develop their own voice in the formation of ideas and in the expression of these ideas through both verbal and visual language.

We seek to empower each student to develop a personal voice grounded in historical and contemporary knowledge, equipped with vital skills in creative practice as well as critical analysis.

Our guiding theme of ‘design and humanity’ provides a strong and ethical foundation for all of our programs, and shapes our students’ educational experience. Drawing on depth of insight, our emerging designers and thought leaders will shape, enhance and transform the world in which they live, creating innovative responses to changing economic, technological and social realities.

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For more information contact:

Sarah Mulholland, Media & Communications Officer
416.977.6000 Ext. 327 (mobile Ext. 1327)