Building Healthy Places: South Seton II

Agnieszka Dobrski, Colton Nickel | Graduate Student Researcher

Megan Barnes, Sherry Boateng | Graduate Student Researcher

Gregory Morrow | Faculty Supervisor

Advanced Professional Planning Studio

“There’s a strong association between healthy living and urban design,” states Faculty of Environmental Design Professor Greg Morrow, “and we need to make sure that Calgary’s new communities are designed to maximize those benefits”. Morrow and a group of graduate planning students recently partnered with Brookfield Residential, one of Alberta’s leading developers, to explore new design options for suburban neighborhoods that promote healthy activities such as cycling and walking. For example, one team designed a street layout that aims to increase bicycle and pedestrian access to neighborhood amenities, such as a centre containing a satellite University of Calgary campus, a library, and a performing arts theatre. The centre would tie into an open space network of parks and greenways that run through the community, as well as a potential expanded public transportation system. “Brookfield’s passion is creating great communities and we are always looking for innovations. Partnering with the Faculty of Environmental Design helps us tap into the ideas of the next generation of planners and urban designers,” says Doug Leighton, Vice President of Planning and Sustainability at Brookfield Residential.


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The goal of our design for South Seton was to create a walkable, healthy and affordable community that would build on the existing grid pattern in the Seton Urban District and incorporate strong connections to all of the amenities located there. It was important to provide South Seton residents with ready access to the South Calgary Health Campus, the planned recreation complex, schools, transit, as well as the dining and entertainment options to the north. Given our focus on health and wellness, it was crucial to craft a plan that celebrated connectivity, encouraged active modes of transportation, incorporated open space into the urban fabric, and created a strong sense of place. Our design was informed by an emphasis on all aspects of wellbeing: physical, social and mental, all of which are enhanced by healthy active living. Our focus also extended to providing housing options at various price points to a wide range of demographics. Given the current affordable housing shortage in the city of Calgary, our plan works to provide housing types to many segments of the population, creating a high degree of inclusivity within the community, as well as making it easier for Calgarians to age in place. Our plan provides an abundant supply of different typologies of multi-family housing that add value to the community by creating vibrant and high-quality streetscapes along main streets and boulevards.

Located adjacent to Seton Urban Centre in southeast Calgary, the project challenges conventional suburban development to create a denser, hybrid urbanism that promotes more active and healthier living. Rather than accept regulatory standards as the determinants of form, innovative design, priority of the public realm, and a sense of place were the driving forces. The large 700-acre area was broken down into a series of smaller design challenges that collectively make up each proposal (blocks, streets, open spaces, diagrams, guidelines, phasing, feasibility, civic centre design).