Cardboard City

Cardboard City


Over the course of six hours one evening, a 10m x 12m map of Halifax's downtown and piles of discarded cardboard were at the disposal of 700 citizens that came through the doors. Participants were encouraged to build the city as it was, as it is, or as they want it to be. The result was an eclectic, imaginative model of Halifax that fused old with new (and some wacky) ideas. Common themes did emerge such as the desire for connected bike lanes and farmland in the city. Did this activity lead to direct, quantifiable, reportable action by policy makers or city planners? Not really. What it did do is open a forum outside of the daily grind for people to imagine it, talk about it, think about their role in making it happen (it being your vision: from bikelanes to farmland to a new urban form). Inspired conversations are still ongoing about the complexity of our challenges and potential simplicity of our solutions. Though Cardboard City's impact is hard to measure - and such forums really need to be ongoing - the creativity and motivation sparked in participants is something that cannot be put to rest on a bookshelf - as the results of many community planning activities can.


The Planning & Design Centre, an initiative of young planners and designers in Halifax, was inspired by Chicago, Paris, NYC and Amsterdam. This would be a streetfront space with ongoing exhibitions of local and global planning/architecture. The PDC role in the planning process was to host unconventional activities to gather input, reactions, ideas and inspirations from the citizens of Halifax and relay it to municipal planning staff. The PDC did made massive progress in a short timeframe but was eventually halted by city planning staff. Nonetheless, the team of "plan-archists" did make a splash including Cardboard City. The core team: Rachel Caroline Derrah, Clara Stewart-Robertson, Sophia Horwtiz, Jennifer Pritchard and Ali Shaver.

Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada