Spacing School of Urbanism

The Spacing School of Urbanism provides unique continuing education and professional development to Greater Toronto-area architects, planners, urban designers, developers, real estate agents, and city-builders seeking to broaden their knowledge of emerging trends in urbanism. Interactive workshops have been co-developed by Spacing and Swerhun Facilitation with advice from academics, practitioners, and other local thought leaders. Our workshops are led by city-builders that will engage participants in a thought-provoking, full-day training session. All sessions take place at 197 Spadina Avenue, Lake Ontario Room, 5th floor.


  • FRIDAY SEPT. 27th, 2019: Tactical Urbanism
  • FRIDAY OCT. 25th, 2019: Digital/Smart Cities
  • FRIDAY NOV. 29th, 2019: Housing Continuum
  • for full descriptions of each workshop please scroll down

All workshops are eligible for professional development credits with OAA, OALA, OPPI, CIP, RAIC

For questions, please contact

photo by Wylie Poon

WHEN: Friday, September 27th, 9am-4:30pm
WHERE: 197 Spadina Avenue, Lake Ontario Room, 5th Floor
COST: $125 for professionals, $50 for students (five spots available)
LINK: Buy your ticket now at The Spacing Store

Tactical urbanism refers to physical interventions in built environments — often using low-cost, easily changeable materials — aimed at improving urban life. It has been taken up both by municipalities looking to experiment in and/or re-design urban environments and by individuals or organizations looking to improve or affect change in their communities.

For municipalities or other decision makers, tactical urbanism adopts an action-based, iterative methodology to exploring change in cities, offering an alternative to traditional methods of desktop study and analysis. For community-based organizations or individuals, it can be a tool for exploration, advocacy, or even protest. Examples range from the very small (using dried leaves or cheap paint to “narrow” a residential street and improve safety) to the very large (installing jersey barriers on a major road to re-direct car traffic and improve transit service).

Participants in the TACTICAL URBANISM Workshop will:

  • Learn a brief history of tactical urbanism. This overview will cover its origins, examples across the world, and applications in Toronto.
  • Explore key concepts in tactical urbanism, including the rationale, pros, and cons of this approach to city building.
  • Hear about different applications of tactical urbanism, including “top down” and “bottom up.” These discussions will reveal the range of perspectives, issues, and opportunities tactical urbanism presents for a wide array of audiences. Representatives of both municipality-led tactical urbanism projects and community-driven processes will speak about their experiences, challenges, and opportunities.
  • Cover examples of how / where tactical urbanism has had an influence on city building (and where it did not).
  • Explore how to navigate permission, both from a top-down approach through issues like procurement, liability, and political buy-in. Participants will also learn about issues related to permission from a bottom-up approach, covering issues like permits, funding, and community support.
  • Learn about specific tools, materials, and techniques to apply a tactical urbanism approach in projects.
  • Have an opportunity to apply tactical urbanism concepts to a real-world urban environment (without getting covered in paint).

Lunch and snacks will be provided. Will we contact you about food requests/allergies.

Participants will also have a list of resources available for further reading and research that can be pursued following the session.

Please note that we will need confirmation of your student status after you have signed up. Those who do not qualify will be refunded.


October 25, 2019: Smart / Digital cities
Depending on who you listen to, smart / digital cities are either the solution to a range of urban and social problems or the skinny end of the wedge leading to urban privatization and surveillance. This workshop will introduce key and emerging concepts in the discourse around smart / digital cities, including the spectrum of opinions about them and the issues informing those opinions. Participants will have the opportunity to learn about: digital governance, data collection and use, privacy and algorithmic bias, the emerging urban / digital eco-system, and others.

November 29, 2019: Housing continuum
Toronto faces big challenges in housing. The workshop will explore the range of options available on the housing continuum – who the players are, the housing available, the demographics served, trends over time, and where the big opportunities and barriers lie. Perspectives from the private, public, non-profit, and community sectors will be shared, including how these perspectives often influence how housing issues are framed and discussed.


The Laneway Housing workshop took place on July 16th, 2019

Laneway Housing has been described as a potential solution to some of Toronto’s housing challenges. Adding density to otherwise low-density neighbourhoods, creating more affordable housing, and making better use of parts of the city are just some of the benefits identified by Laneway Housing advocates.

For a long time, City of Toronto by-laws all-but restricted Laneway Housing, but now, after years of advocacy from both within and beyond City Hall, the City has adopted new rules to enable and guide Laneway Suites. This component of the Spacing School of Urbanism curriculum is dedicated to exploring Laneway Housing.

Participants in the Spacing School of Urbanism Laneway Housing Workshop will:

  • Learn about the history of Laneway Housing in Toronto, including the policies that previously limited the development of Laneway Housing, the history of advocacy around this kind of development, and what changed to enable new Laneway Housing policies and by-laws.
  • Hear from the City of Toronto about some of the highlights about its recent Laneway Suites policies (including some of the challenges that needed to be addressed in developing the policies), which kinds of Laneway Housing are now permitted, which are not, and what is next for City policies around this type of housing.
  • Hear from Laneway Housing advocates, including some of the key issues that drove their advocacy, what they like about the City’s recent Laneway Housing-supportive policies, and where they would like to see things go from here.
  • Hear from architects and developers with experience in developing Laneway Housing, including some of the opportunities, challenges, and successes they have experienced.
  • Participate in facilitated, interactive discussions that enable participants to ask (and answer) questions, explore ideas, and connect Laneway Housing to their own work.