Research Topics

(Groups project topics can be found here.)

This is where we can start a list of everyones research topic for the Understanding Phase. Any completed research topics needs to be indexed with a link to referring page.

Advertising in Public Space

The private use of public space — Advertising has become ubiquitous: it can be found in our homes, schools, places of business, and increasingly in our public spaces. Through my research I hope to explore how the advertising industry effects our experience of public space, and wether these effects are positive or negative.


Backstreets (downtown)-what's the flip side of the fabulous, spectacular face of Downtown streets?


Billboards - Poor use of public space or efficient means for mass advertising?

Bus stops

Bus stops, as well as other places dedicated for nothing but waiting and getting on the desired vehicle of public transportation may be an interesting topic of research. One can ask questions such as what can be improved in the design of these highly specialized places to make them more efficient and convenient for everyday users. Apart from the obvious additions of sitting places, bus stops may require more exotic and creative treatment that would possibly make this huge part of the daily routine easier and more enjoyable for many people.

Canada's Wonderland theme Park

A look at the theme park Canada's Wonderland as rides based on moods instead of just the names. The sites looked at present just about all the attractions of the theme park from rides to food.
Canada's Wonderland theme park


Churches in Toronto used as concert venues - How does this affect and/or change the public's perspectives on traditional views of the church as a space for religious gathering? By integrating and promoting the church as an environment where commerce takes place, does this enhance or detract the image and understanding of the (sacred) role of the church? Similarily, how does this impact the artists themselves? How does modern, contemporary music define and reflect the overall architecture, atmosphere and context of the church, and vice versa?

City pet space

City Pet Space- To what extent should pets be integrated into our culture, and the city's public and private spaces?

Community Centers

Community Centers - They can be considered as the public space of the community, a place where people can gather, interact, have fun, socialize and do many things either by themselves or together with a group of people. After reading about the public revolt against the mayor on his decision of monday closings of community centers over toronto, it made me wonder why is it that the public loved about the community centers and like, was there something more about them? What exactly makes up a community center? How are they used? Do community centers actually reflect its community?

Community Gardens

How is the concept of Community Gardening a benefit to the ever increasing population of Toronto. What is the proportion of green space to urban living space within Toronto? How does being involved in a community gardening effort affect the way we feel and the way we interact with others in our community? How can Toronto plan to increase gardens per capita as the city population continues to increase? What are the benefits, challenges and disadvantages of community gardening?


Control - In what ways do signs/rules in public spaces control our how we act in a public space. Do they inhibit our experience or make it better? Also, how does the phyiscal design of the area affect its use?


Conversations in Public Space - When one is alone in a public space, how do they feel about having conversations with people they do not know. Is it a blessing to have someone to talk to, or would they rather be left alone. How does this change based on mood or when traveling in groups.

Commuter Culture

View Understanding Phase of TTC Commuter Culture Here.
Approximately 1.4 Million Riders ride the Rocket any day of the week. Such a large mass of people have this in common, but how do they react to one another? Do commuters believe the TTC is a public domain or one in which they are simply passengers. More interestingly, what does commuter interaction look like in this space? Are commuters isolating themselves in a space that is so dense with people? This research is studied from a standpoint of cultural influences to understand why commuters behave the way they do.


This research explores the cycling culture within Toronto, including prominant hazards between bikers, drivers and pedestrians; issues associated with cycling that are being ignored; ways in which the city caters to cyclists; and further steps that need to be taken to promote the development and success of the cycling culture. Research development and statements by jordanmae...

Farmers Markets
Farmers Markets - how do these public events benefit the general public? How do they benefit the farmers?


Graffiti - Illegal Communication
The graffiti subculture has used its form of illegal writing as a way of communicating with others. However, in our society the only legal, or perhaps right communication is the one that you or someone else pays for. Why does our society believe that it is graffiti that is imposing on our lives, when the real problem is the corporations, who constantly take up more and more public space?

Internet Cafes

Internet cafes - Why do so many young adults gather late at night if not 12 hours a day at these cafes? How does/if this effect our community as a whole economically in the future.


Littering In Public Space: We've been given these parks and trails to use and enjoy at our leisure, but some people seem to use them as dumping grounds for their unwanted objects and garbage. Not only does this destroy the appearance of the area and cost taxpayers money to have it cleaned up, but it is also severely detrimental to the environment and the creatures who inhabit the space. What can be done to deter people from littering? Would people be less likely to litter if they knew they were being watched? Further development...

Multicultural Parks

Multicultural Parks - Are activities offered and facilitated by parks mostly limited to the past times of the dominant culture rather than multiple cultures? If so, do the limited facilities in parks contribute to "assimilation" or loss of one's original culture? Does the range of activities available reflect the views of the city? Do people play different sports even if they are not facilitated by the park? How can we educate others on different cultural activities? Is one type of sport/activity valued more than another? What benefits are there to incorporating multicultural activities into our lives?

PATH System

Navigation in Toronto's PATH System - From my own personal experience and frustration with getting lost in the maze that is Toronto's PATH System, I want to investigate navigation and wayfinding methods to improve this system for people who are not everyday users of this system.


What is a playground? What is the function of the playground and is it fulfilling it? Playground is a center for play. It should be a meeting place, where children from the neighborhood can play and parents can talk. Playground is essential to a healthy community. It is a gathering. So what kind can we do to redesign this playground so people from all ages, not only children, but everyone can come and play.

Public Library

The public library - What is the role of the library nowadays? Since internet is rapidly growing and almost all the information can be found online quickly, is it still worth spending hours and hours of time in the library? What innovations can be made in the library for building a community rather than just a private "reading room" ? What are some of the shortcomings of our scott library on the campus? How to attract more people or even children into this big community?

Public Spaces at York

Public Spaces at York - Does York University Campus enough public space to allow for a variety of activities to occur. With the large amount of people visiting, teaching and learning at the campus daily, space is not provided to build a greater sense of community on campus. Within this first project it will be my goal to study activities taking place within the campus’s public spaces to determine where the areas help or hinder community interaction.

Re-appropriation of Sidewalks

A space is designed for a purpose. That is, a space is created to fulfill a requirement in the society as deemed necessary by the city. However, this use is often not how the public that uses the space needs it for.
Most clearly this is seen in the use of sidewalks: an installation primarily used and intended for walking. Although this is a large part of its functionality, in cities the sidewalk is used for a hodgepodge of social activities. These activities differ based off potential use, space allowed, and the need of the surrounding community.

How are sidewalks used and why does this use vary so heavily?


The re-unification of individuals in public spaces. Figuring out a method to help develop interpersonal conversation and idea sharing within the confines of public space. Can we recover from the current technological grasp that is choking our ability to talk to one another in public spaces.

Sculptures and Monuments

Through analyzing the specific monuments and sculptures within the downtown Toronto area, I hope challenge their understood/conventional role in the city, in order to encourage a more concrete and visible relationship between the people and the meaning and purpose of the monuments. They add to the city a certain visual aesthetic, but can monuments change their role and identity, in order to be more than just a visual piece? I will look at this issue in a three-fold view; place, object and public.


Sidewalks are used everyday by many people, but is there more to sidewalks then we know then what they are used for. Art, culture, social issues, do they reside on sidewalks? How are sidewalks affected by urban planning?

Signs: Lettering The Environment

Investigating the attributes of graphical elements applied in store signs. The main focus of this project is to analyze different typographic styles–used for naming places and defining spaces–as an effective identification tool.

Sitting in public space

Sitting in public space- Sitting area is essencial to foster interactions in community, yet in the most busy area--Downtown, there's hardly any sitting areas that is public and free. Why is that? What kind of activity that is encouraged and what's not in Downtown? What's the "speed of living" in Downtown? How's something as simple as having more sitting areas (lounges, chairs) affect the community?

Street Furniture

It is clear that street furniture, such as benches and bus shelters are essential for any city. It is interesting to investigate to what extent the street furniture of our city serves its purpose.

Street flyers/posters

Street flyers/posters - useful community tool or profitable abuse of public space?

Suburban outdoor advertising

Suburban outdoor advertising - commercial versus not for profit versus government versus personal? Different techniques and media used. Reasons for these differences. What makes the suburbs a different sort of ad space than the city itself? What sort of things are being advertised in the suburbs? Real estate, the current provincial elections, community events ... for further development of my topic

Suburb Parks vs. Downtown Parks

Suburb Parks vs. Downtown Parks. What differentiates them from each other? There are many variables that affect the amount of social interaction present in each, but how much of it is due to the physical construction of the park vs. the demographic of the area?

Suburban parking lots

Suburban parking lots - What constitutes public space in suburbia? Exploring how private space is co-opted and claimed as part of the public realm. As a result of the activities undertaken there in respect to time, location, construction and other factors of variation.

Theme Park culture

Theme Park culture - Assisting the moods of the public in terms of creating rides that identify the type of mood they portray. For example, rides could have not only their name but the kind of mood or feeling they present such as Thrill, Gentle, Roller Coaster, and Water mood rides. where are the most compressions of people? what are the demographs? The argument is on how the theme park (Canada's Wonderland) could improve it's rides in terms of implying mood themes or titles to better understand the rides.

Waterfront/Lakefront spaces

Waterfront/Lakefront spaces - How do we use these spaces? What kind of development do we create on the water; is what's built based on the fact that the lake is so close? Does downtown treat the waterfront differently than other areas of Toronto? How does word spread about events on the waterfront (ex: festivals, parties, businesses, etc)? Do we segment the waterfront into different areas of use? Does development close to Lake Ontario nurture cultural development and if so how? ... Understanding portion