Photo: The Homegrown Design Challenge

Homegrown Park Rangers established pollinator-friendly canoe gardens in five city parks in 2013.

By Jode Roberts, Homegrown National Park Project

Workshop Architecture and the David Suzuki Foundation are excited to launch the Homegrown Design Challenge.

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Architects, landscape architects, designers, planners, artists and community members are invited to submit their ideas for low-cost, easy-to-implement landscape design solutions for front yards, backyards, balconies, schoolyards and laneways that help to increase biodiversity and conserve water and energy.

This open competition aims to gather a range of ideas that can provide inspiration and practical information for homeowners and property managers in Toronto's Homegrown National Park boundary and beyond and generate awareness about the importance of making sustainable improvements to our urban landscape—one property at a time.

The best ideas will be exhibited at the Urbanspace Gallery in July 2014 and during Homegrown National Park project events from May to October 2014. The exhibition will include a series of invited submissions from prominent local architects and landscape architects. We will also pursue permissions and funding to build a selection of the ideas as demonstration projects within the Homegrown National Park for the 2014 season.

Competition objectives

The Homegrown Design Challenge will raise awareness about the importance of making improvements to our urban landscape, one property at a time, among Toronto homeowners and property managers.

Recent severe storms and flooding, as well as droughts and other severe weather events, demonstrate that individuals need to conserve water and energy, and assist in increasing passive stormwater management in cities across Canada.

Fostering biodiversity and increasing native plants will help people in cities connect to their natural surroundings and address the problem of declining bee, bird and butterfly populations.

This project is an opportunity for designers to show homeowners and property managers simple and effective solutions that can improve the landscape along the Homegrown National Park corridor, and provide one or more of these benefits:

  • Improve local air and water quality
  • Increase natural stormwater management
  • Increase carbon absorption and storage
  • Reduce water and energy use
  • Reduce heat island effect
  • Increase biodiversity and improve habitat for bees, birds and butterflies
  • Increase the amount and type of native plant species and reduce invasive species

Competition guidelines

We invite competitors to submit ideas for low-cost, easy-to-implement interventions or landscape design solutions that increase biodiversity and conserve water and energy within the Homegrown National Park in:

  • Residential front and backyards
  • Apartment/condo balconies and landscaping
  • Schoolyards and daycare play spaces
  • Lanes and alleyways

We want competitors to create a design to fit a particular location, but that is easy to replicate in similar spaces. Entering with, or in consultation with, the site owners and/or stakeholders is encouraged. If you have a site in mind and need assistance contacting the owner/stakeholders, email and we will let you
know if we can help make the contact.


Selection criteria

The jury will use these criteria to select winners:

  • Proposal design innovation in response to competition objectives and guidelines;
  • Proposal responsiveness to site, context and stakeholders/users;
  • Quality and clarity of presentation materials.


The jury will award CAD $500 in prizes for the competition ($300 first prize, two runner-up prizes of $100 each).


Competition opens March 31, 2014
Questions deadline April 24, 2014
Submissions due May 26, 2014
Winners announced June 2014
Exhibition opens July 2014


Please forward all questions regarding the competition to by April 24, 2014.

March 31, 2014

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