What do we mean by design?

Encompassing landscape architecture, urban design, architecture, interior design, industrial design and graphic design, design is here used in its broadest sense, including emerging hybrid practices like interactive design and service design.

All of these creative disciplines, practised at different scales within the city, have the power to [re]qualify and enrich our living environment, improve territorial attractiveness, and ensure more effective services to citizens.

What do we mean by quality in design?

Design is said to be successful when it meets the needs and aspirations of the communities and users for which it is destined (inclusive, connected, diverse). It is exemplified by objects, buildings, urban planning and services that are in context, integrated with their surroundings, sustainable, adaptable, functional and effective, as well as esthetically pleasing, attractive, friendly and welcoming, engaging, interactive, and value-creating.

“Good” design is also, and more importantly, a process combining creativity and innovation. It is in fact a series of steps in which issues are identified and the best solutions for the given context are determined and then implemented. Creativity, meanwhile, is generative of ideas, and innovation harnesses those ideas. Design therefore connects ideas with the needs of a market, shapes them to make them practical, and makes them into products and services that are attractive to customers and users.

Successful design generates value, and results from the concerted efforts of the designer, with their training, skills and experience, and of the informed client, who is able to derive benefit from them. Good design is a quantifiable benefit, not a cost. The added value of good design is measurable economically, socially and ecologically.

What is the relationship between the Montréal Agenda for Quality in Design and Architecture and the Québec government’s architectural strategy?

At the September 25, 2017, meeting of Municipal Council, the Ville de Montréal declared its support for the Ordre des architectes du Québec’s efforts in lobbying for adoption of a Québec Architecture Policy. At the same Council meeting, it tasked the City’s Bureau du design with organizing a consultative process with partner organizations in the design community, the boroughs and the municipal central departments to draft the outline of the Montréal chapter of that Policy, consistent with the city’s status as a metropolis and with the “Montréal Reflex” framework agreement, so as to respect the specific nature of Montréal.

To ensure that specific nature is enshrined in an eventual Québec Architecture Policy, it was agreed that the City would begin by adopting a vision and objectives, through development and implementation of a Montréal agenda and action plan for quality in design and architecture.

In June 2018, the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications, in unveiling its renewed culture policy, announced its intention to provide Québec with a “government strategy for architecture.” Consequently, the Ville de Montréal, the Ordre des architectes du Québec and the Québec government are now working together to promote adoption of exemplary practices and to recognize the value of architecture (and, more broadly, all design disciplines) in creating quality living environments.

Whom does the Agenda affect?

The Montréal Agenda for Quality in Design and Architecture and its associated action plan will be municipal tools for mobilization and engagement toward sustainable urban development for present and future generations.

The Agenda is being developed via a process of consultation and concerted action with the design and architecture practitioners, managers and professionals working for the boroughs and central departments of the Ville de Montréal, along with many public- and private-sector players (e.g., citizens, organizations, institutions) with a stake in spatial planning and development.

Why does Montreal need an Agenda for quality in design and architecture?

To strategically mainstream design as a driver of economic, urban, cultural and social growth. Given its broad scope, design must from now on be integrated systemically and systematically into the Ville de Montréal’s development plans and policies.

The Agenda is necessary to ensure that design is incorporated into municipal actions in a strategic and cross-cutting manner as a driver of economic, urban, cultural and social development. Given their broad scope, the design disciplines must now be systemically and systematically integrated into the City’s development plans and policies.

The general objectives of the Agenda are to: 

  • promote the importance of design in creating an improved built environment, and as a factor in quality of life and wellness in Montréal;
  • support the professional community, the City and the boroughs in the development of high-quality buildings, public spaces and services; and
  • enable or facilitate establishment and maintenance of efficient and effective design processes.

Its specific objectives are as follows:

  • Share and develop a design culture, via a participatory, inclusive process;
  • Ensure that users are the focus of decision-makers’ concerns;
  • Foster greater engagement by all toward quality and durability in design throughout the territory of the City;
  • Provide clear, consistent and exacting shared objectives that promote design quality;
  • Establish a framework for analysis and review of projects that incorporates best practices in design and architecture;
  • Strengthen Montréal’s assets and acquisitions (plans, charters, strategies, processes and regulations);
  • Collectively address the challenges and issues given priority by the City (e.g., living together, resilience in the face of climate change, demographics, Montréal’s economy, infrastructure renewal and maintenance); and
  • Assert Montréal’s leadership and status as a UNESCO City of Design.

What exactly is the Agenda?

The format of the Montréal Agenda for Quality in Design and Architecture remains to be defined. Its content will be both instructive and prescriptive, inspired by a vision and objectives grouped into guiding themes and real-world issues, from which a concerted action plan will be developed. The plan will outline the efforts (means, methods and processes), resources, and types of co-operation and collaboration required to ensure its implementation and success.

What's an “Agenda” or Why an “Agenda” ?

The term agenda was chosen to differentiate this initiative from existing policies and to enable greater flexibility of form and content. To that end, and with regard to its stated sustainability principles, Québec’s Agenda 21 for Culture served as an inspiration. Like the Partout, la culture policystemming from A21C, the Montréal Agenda for Quality in Design and Architecture aims to confirm the cross-cutting role of design as a driver of economic, urban, cultural and social development.

Some definitions also proved useful in deciding on the use of the term, as concerns the meaning to be ascribed to the Montréal Agenda for Quality in Design and Architecture:

An agenda is the set of subjects or issues corresponding to the concerns, priorities and course of action of a government, officially put forward and to be addressed over a given period of time

Placing an item on the agenda means that it has been properly taken into account and will be tackled in a specific manner so as to result in one or more decisions being made.

What does Montréal’s designation as a UNESCO City of Design mean?

The UNESCO designation is neither a label nor a form of recognition. It is an invitation to develop Montréal around its creative forces in design.

Historical background: in June 2006, Montréal was named a UNESCO City of Design, and became part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, established in 2004. To date, the Network comprises180 member citiesin seven centres of creativity (Cinema, Crafts and Folk Art, Design, Gastronomy, Literature, Media Arts and Music), including31 cities of design.

In attributing the title to Montréal, UNESCO acknowledged the potential of designers to contribute to the city’s future, as well as the commitment and determination of the Ville de Montréal, other levels of government and civil society to build on that strength for the purpose of enhancing Montrealers’ quality of life

This recognition has proven to be a bona fide strategic tool for consolidating the bases of a creative economy and stimulation innovation in design. Montréal’s membership in the Creative Cities Network has significantly contributed to building new momentum and greater confidence, aiding the evolution from a city recognized as a city of designers toward one with the coveted status “City of Design.”

The designation was renewed in 2016.

What is Montréal’s Bureau du design?

Since creating the position of Design Commissioner in 1991, the Ville de Montréal has implemented numerous initiatives aimed at stimulating creation in design and promoting the local and international reputations of Montréal-based designers.

The mission of the Bureau du design (created in 2006 following the UNESCO design City designation) is to better develop [design, build] the city with designers, provide support and guidance to the central departments and the boroughs on processes that foster quality, develop the market for Montréal-based designers and architects, and promote their talent. Delivering on that mission relies in part on the following principles:

  • Being an exemplary client (municipal prime contractor);
  • Putting designers to work;
  • Promoting quality in design;
  • Stimulating creativity and innovation.

The Bureau du design acts as a project manager for the development of the Agenda, partrnering with the Institut du Nouveau Monde for consulting and involving stakeholders in the process.