ALUMNI SPEAKER SERIES “A Canadian’s Right to Housing: How Do We Get There"

Wednesday, February 23, 2022 1:00 pm - 1:00 pm EST (GMT -05:00)

Small house model on table top with a set of keys next to it

A Canadian’s Right to Housing: How Do We Get There

Canada’s National Housing Act recognizes the right to housing as a fundamental human right, essential to the inherent dignity and wellbeing of the person and to building sustainable and inclusive communities. Yet from record housing prices that locks many people out of home ownership to marginalized communities lacking necessities such as clean drinking water, the right to housing is emerging as a critical question for architects and planners. What does fair access to housing look like? How can we make better community infrastructure that truly supports affordable housing? How affordable are current options and what would deep affordability look like? Join us as architectural experts look at this issue across different perspectives and geographies.

The audience will have an opportunity to ask questions of the panel of experts.

A Zoom link will be sent to those who register for this session. 


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Lola Sheppard, B.Arch, M.Arch, OAA, OAQ
Associate Director, Graduate Studies & Research

Lola Sheppard is Professor at the University of Waterloo School of Architecture. Her work operates at the intersection of architecture, landscape, and urbanism. Examining the wider context and climate of a project– social, ecological, or political - she has been pursuing research and design work on the role of architecture and infrastructure in rural and remote regions for the past fifteen years. 


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Neeraj Bhatia
BES ’03; BArch ’05
Associate Professor, California College of the Arts
Principal, The Open Workshop

Neeraj Bhatia is a licensed architect and urban designer whose work resides at the intersection of politics and architecture. Neeraj is founder of THE OPEN WORKSHOP, a transcalar design-research office examining the negotiation between architecture, territory, and collectivity. Select distinctions include the Architectural League Young Architects Prize, Emerging Leaders Award from Design Intelligence, and the Canadian Prix de Rome. He is an Associate Professor at the California College of the Arts where he also Directs the urbanism research lab, the Urban Works Agency. Bhatia has also held teaching positions at UC Berkeley (as the visiting Esherick Professor), UT Arlington (as the visiting Ralph Hawkins Professor), Cornell University, Rice University (As the Wortham Fellow), and the University of Toronto. He is co-editor of books Bracket [Takes Action], The Petropolis of Tomorrow, Bracket [Goes Soft], Arium: Weather + Architecture, and co-author of Pamphlet Architecture 30: Coupling — Strategies for Infrastructural Opportunism and New Investigations in Collective Form. Neeraj has a master’s degree in Architecture and Urbanism from MIT where he was studying on a Fulbright Fellowship, and a Bachelor of Environmental Studies and Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Waterloo.


Adrian Blackwell
BES ’89; BArch ’91
Associate Professor and Associate Director of Research, School of Architecture, University of Waterloo 

Adrian Blackwell received his Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Waterloo and his Master of Urban Design degree from the University of Toronto. He is an artist and urban and architectural designer whose work examines the relation between physical spaces and political/economic forces. He has exhibited his work at artist-run-centers and public institutions across Canada, in the 2005 Shenzhen Biennale, the 2011 Chengdu Biennale and at London’s Architectural Association. In 2007, he was a member of the winning team in the international competition to renovate Toronto's Nathan Phillips Square and has won awards for his architecture and urban design from the Canadian Architect, Toronto Urban Design Awards, Design Exchange and I.D. Magazine. He has curated exhibitions, including Detours: Tactical Approaches to Urbanization in China and organized symposia such as Architecture and Spectacle in (Post) Socialist China. He writes regularly about the intersections of art, architecture, urbanism and his current research focuses on architecture’s political potential, urbanization in contemporary China, the disappearance of public housing in North America and the constitutive paradoxes of public space. Before joining the University of Waterloo, he was a visiting professor at Chongqing, Michigan and Harvard universities and an assistant professor at the University of Toronto. He has been a member of Toronto’s Anarchist Free School and the Toronto School of Creativity and Inquiry and is a co-founder and co-editor of the journal Scapegoat: Architecture / Landscape / Political Economy.

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Liana Bresler
BAS ’07; MArch ’10
Principal, SVN Architects + Planners

Liana Bresler is a principal at SvN Architects + Planners with over a decade of experience designing housing, libraries, and notable institutional projects. She is an effective leader who deftly guides new construction and complex renovations at all scales, through every phase. Liana is currently co-leading the integrated transit-oriented development team on the Ontario Line as the technical advisor to Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario, as well as being the principal-in-charge for the Bob Rumball Centre Group Home for Deaf Youth, among other projects. Recent projects include a new City of Toronto childcare centre located at the base of an energy retrofit for a high rise residential tower with Toronto Community Housing. Previously, Liana was the project architect for Dixon Hall Youth Centre, a phased renovation of Cambridge Library’s main branch.

Before joining SvN, Liana was an associate with LGA Architectural Partners in Toronto and worked for award-winning firms in New York and Barcelona. She received the Best Concept Award at the 2011 Ontario Association of Architects Awards. Liana continues her involvement with the academic world as a sessional adjunct faculty with the University of Waterloo and as a guest critic with the University of Toronto and OCAD University.

Please note: This session will be recorded with permission of the speakers and moderator and will be posted to view on the Alumni Speaker Playlist on the Waterloo Engineering YouTube Channel after the live session. Viewers do not have permission to record the session.