Building Healthy Places: South Seton I

Jocelyn Appleby, Kate Churchill | Graduate Student Researcher

Marley Kozak, Rui Liu | Graduate Student Researcher

Gregory Morrow | Graduate 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 vision for Seton is a community that is healthy, vibrant and affordable with a strong sense of place: a complete community that promotes health through innovative urban design. It was important to design a compact urban form that provides residents with their day to day needs, a variety of shops and services, multimodal transportation options, and plenty of open space. The South Seton Development Plan focuses on creating a complete community that achieves 4 important components of a complete community (from MDP Complete streets policy):

  1. A range of housing types and tenures with appropriate densities and architectural & urban design guidelines that promote attractive design and a strong sense of place;
  2. A diversity of employment and services that are integrated into the community or easily accessible with various modes of travel;
  3. A street and mobility network that is well-connected, supports multiple types of transportation and promotes a vibrant public realm;
  4. And, the use of green infrastructure and an open space network that is enhances the existing natural environment and connects throughout the site and into the regional park system


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).