Innovation Village Courtyard Master Plan


Landscape Design students at Fanshawe have created designs for the exterior courtyards on both sides of the new Innovation Village. Sara Bellaire is a registered landscape architect and a professor in the Landscape Design program. She collaborated with Shawn Harrington, director of facilities management at Fanshawe, to have her students get involved with reimagining and rethinking outdoor spaces. “We wanted to create a project that will complement the surrounding architecture of the new Innovation Village area and the new Library Learning Commons,” says Sara.


The overall aspiration for the project was to let the students be imaginative and come up with a design solution that is reflective of what Fanshawe students would want to see. “Oftentimes, we would do this as a participatory design project where end users of the space—in this case, students—get a say in what should be included in the area. Due to the pandemic, we had to have the students get more innovative.” Sara wanted to broaden the reach to get other Fanshawe students’ opinions about what they wanted to see in the new space. This project ended up taking over half of their fall semester and took months ahead of time to map out. “We had to align all the different stakeholders and the dates and booking different rooms, there are a lot of logistics and planning that goes into something like this, and it is still ongoing now.”


The professional landscape architects who are working on the building and the outside spaces are still reflecting on what the students want to see in this space. “Our students looked at the draft concept plans that were proposed by the professional team and we were able to provide our feedback based on what the students thought of the design and how that would be received by the student body,” recalls Sara. She also said that it was a good learning opportunity for the students to see how a professional completes their work and they had thoughtful comments on the professionally proposed design. Kaitlyn Erikson, one of the Landscape Design students, said, “Designing the North and South courtyards at Fanshawe was a great experience for us as students because we were able to express our exemplary use of the space.


We were able to amplify the Indigenous principles outdoors and make an educational space for students to enjoy.” Sara stated that she is really pleased and thought her students did a thorough job of capturing the spirit of Fanshawe students. “I thought their programming ideas were comparable to what the professionals came up with. The goal was for students to produce professional looking design plans, and I think they accomplished that.” Moving forward, the professional team is still tweaking their ideas and adjusting the plan, and the goal is for the project to be completed in 2023 after the Innovation Village construction is closer to finishing. Sara noted, “I think this is going to be a bit of a legacy project where these students can come back and see it even after they have graduated.” She looks forward to having these spaces built on campus and feels honoured knowing that her class had an influence over some of these decisions and ideas. 

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