The Eco Design Symposium will bring together designers, architects, landscape architects, engineers, and students around the theme of ecological design within the context of the unfolding eco-crisis.

An eco-crisis is defined as the collapse of ecosystems and biodiversity due to changes in the environment. The plight of the coral, birds, bees, humans, forests, aquifers, and more all bear witness to an unfolding global eco-crisis.

Each action we take, as designers, engineers, architects, is amplified by a thousand, a million times when our designs are realized as buildings, roads, earthworks, sewers, products, and more. We have a unique opportunity to positively and directly intervene in the eco-crisis. We can deploy ideas that promote ecosystems and encourage biodiversity.

The goals of this symposium are to:
– Foster conversations about designers role in the eco-crisis
– Share examples of ecological design in action
– Facilitate networking among likeminded people.

Keywords: Pro-active, Pragmatic, Direct Action

This symposium is organized as part of the DesignTO festival,  happening from January 18-27,2019.  DesignTO takes design out of the studio and into the city, transforming the urban sphere into a celebration for all things design.


  • January 19 as part of DesignTO Festival
  • 10am — Introduction
  • 10:30 — Presentations and Roundtable 1
  • 12:30 — Lunch (please bring your own lunch or purchase in the area)
  • 1:30 — Presentations and Roundtable 2
  • 3:30-5pm — Unconference facilitated by Speakers and Attendees
  • 7:30pm  — Social (offsite)


  • The Bakery, 2 Fraser Avenue
  • Accessible location
  • Special Thanks go to the team at York Heritage Properties for offering up the space!


  • Tickets cost $25. Includes light snacks and tea & coffee
  • or visit: eventbrite to get your tickets
  • Scholarships are available please enquire with the organizer.


  • For questions or comments please email the organizer
  • Subscribe to our mailing list

Thank you to Jayne Grigorovich for the logo and branding! Also, thank you to Our Paper Life, for their help sponsoring the event.


Chris Magwood

Chris Magwood, from the Endeavour Centre near Peterborough will share research into the embodied carbon of buildings and the impacts that design can have in lowering emissions, as well as the Zero House, which is designed to have zero net energy use, zero carbon footprint and zero toxins. 

To learn more visit: http://endeavourcentre.org/instructors/chris-magwood/

Christina Cholkan

Finding energy among both urban corridors and glacial mountains, Christina Cholkan has been inspired since the summer camp years to better understand how we can build healthier cities. With an interest in strategizing and developing applied solutions, Christina completed an Environmental Engineering degree at the University of Guelph and entered into Water Resource engineering consulting. It was in consulting where Christina developed more in-depth knowledge of stormwater management, flood risk analysis, and low impact development, working on both public sector site restoration and private sector development projects. In 2016, Christina took a ‘work sabbatical’ to get re-inspired at the University of British Columbia, specializing in Integrated Water Management and business in the Master of Engineering Leadership program. Christina has since returned to consulting and is always up for exchanging thoughts on – What does it mean to develop an urban centre in a ‘low impact’ way? What combination of individual or community incremental solutions and larger scale civil infrastructure provide best net value for growing a cleaner, healthier city?

Daimen Hardie

Daimen Hardie is Co-Founder and Executive Director of Community Forests International. He works closely with teams in Canada and Tanzania on a shared mission to fight climate change by empowering rural communities to thrive with nature. Daimen designs and manages cross-sector climate action programs for the European Union’s Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA); builds regenerative supply partnerships in some of the world’s most vulnerable farming regions; and homesteads off-grid in rural New Brunswick.

To Learn more visit: https://forestsinternational.org/

Rob Avis

Rob Avis, P.Eng owns and operates Adaptive Habitat, a leading edge design firm for high-performance properties and Verge Permaculture, a globally recognized award-winning education business. He has over a decade of experience in project management, ecological design, and sustainable technologies, which he shares at vergepermaculture.ca from his suburban house and yard that he & his wife have transformed into a model of cold climate urban permaculture in Calgary, Alberta. He is also the co-author of a new book called Essential Rainwater Harvesting: A Guide to Home-Scale Design

To learn more: https://adaptivehabitat.ca/

Eric Davies

Eric Davies,  from the Faculty of Forestry University of Toronto, will share research into the biodiversity of the Greater Toronto Area ravine system, including mapping old growth trees, and charting eco-system health.  

To learn more: http://www.ericdavies.ca/

Ya’el Santopinto

Ya’el Santopinto is a registered Architect and Associate at ERA Architects, where she specializes in affordable, healthy, and climate-resilient housing rehabilitation and retrofit. She is currently Project Architect on the retrofit of more than 650 units of affordable housing in Toronto, and on the retrofit and renewal of a Hamilton apartment tower to the Passive House EnerPHit standard.  Ya’el is also the Director of Research and Partnerships at the Centre for Urban Growth and Renewal (CUG+R), a non-profit organization advocating for supportive policy frameworks around the preservation of Canada’s affordable apartment housing supply. CUG+R’s work supports the scaling up of Tower Renewal, an initiative to catalyze climate resilience and community building in apartment tower neighbourhoods across the country.

To learn more visit: www.towerrenewal.com