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In Conversation with Maya Mahgoub-Desai and Matthew Hickey: The Foundations, Regenerative and Restorative Design in Architecture

Black and white photographs of Maya Mahgoub-Desai (left) and Matthew Hickey (right)

Accompanying Onsite Gallery's current exhibition, Survival Architecture and the Art of Resilience, this online conversation with OCAD U Chair of Environmental Design, Maya Mahgoub-Desai, and Mohawk architect and OCAD U faculty Matthew Hickey, will focus on regenerative and restorative design — encompassing ecological, cultural, and economic principles based in Universal Inclusivity.

Online event; Zoom link will be sent to all registered participants.

Register here


Matthew Hickey is Mohawk from the Six Nations of the Grand River Reserve, receiving his Masters of Architecture from the University of Calgary and his Bachelor of Design from the Ontario College of Art and Design. His cultural background has a significant impact on his work.

Matthew’s focus is on regenerative and restorative design - encompassing ecological, cultural, and economic principles. His research includes Indigenous history in architecture of Northern & Middle America and the adaptation of historic sustainable technologies to the contemporary North American climate.

He has been practicing architecture at Two Row Architect for 12 years and currently oversees design and development for the firm. At Two Row Architect the core work is Indigenous design and architecture, designing on and offreserve all over Ontario, Canada, and in the United States.

Maya Mahgoub-Desai is an Associate Professor and the current Chair of Environmental Design at OCAD University. Maya is a researcher and practitioner whose current research is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC / CRSH) and the Government of Canada’s Sustainable Development Goals Program and investigates themes related to human-environment behaviour; public health policy and public realm design; inclusive approaches to community collaboration in urban planning and addressing equity in design education (with a focus on disability).

Maya's previous speculative research focused on how cultural perspectives of nature can inform approaches to environmental conservation and was awarded the Architectural Research Consortium's King Medal for Excellence in Architectural and Environmental Research and shortlisted for the Canada Council for the Arts Prix de Rome in Architecture for Emerging Practitioners.

As the Senior Urban Designer for the renowned firm of Moriyama Teshima Architects, Maya has led several urban and peri-urban campus, community and municipal plans which focus on sustainable approaches, cultural resilience, and a collaborative community engagement process. Her portfolio includes serving as a subject matter expert for Waterfront Toronto; developing master plans for Qatar's Education City, Surrey City Development Corporation and the Town of Whitby and campus plans for the University of Lethbridge, Wilfrid Laurier University and Conestoga College.

Maya also remains actively engaged in professional and volunteer activities that focus on health and equity, serving as an executive member of BEAT (Building Equality in Architecture Toronto), a member of the RAIC (Royal Architectural Institute of Canada) Promoting Equity and Justice Advisory Committee, and a committee member of ClimateACT. Maya is also a frequent guest critic and lecturer in architecture and urban design studios at the University of Toronto, Ryerson University, University of Waterloo, Concordia University, UC Irvine, Kent State University and l'Université de Montréal.


Survival Architecture and the Art of Resilience

September 15 to December 11, 2021

Ours is a world in flux. Extreme weather events are propelling governments, cities, developers, designers and others to question our ability to confront and survive the repercussions of climate change, natural disasters and other shocks to our communities. As we face increasingly unpredictable environmental conditions, many of the world’s poorest residents are at risk of drought, sea level rise, and the loss of habitat that supports fishing, farming, and other livelihoods.

Art Works for Change invited visionary architects and artists to consider artistically interpretative solutions and prototypes for survival shelter. In  Survival Architecture and the Art of Resilience, science, technology, architecture, and art converge in a quest for resilience: What does it take to survive and thrive amid a changing climate?  How can we address the needs of the world’s most vulnerable citizens? Through a variety of innovative ideas — high-tech and low-tech, extravagant, and affordable — the exhibition begins to address the challenges of excess heat, droughts, flooding, food insecurity, homelessness, mass violence, biological disaster, and earthquake.

Featuring works by:

Mitchell Joachim and Terreform ONE, Mary Mattingly, Vincent Callebaut, Chris Jordan, Thomas L. Kelly, Liam Kelly, The Empowerment Plan, Phil Ross, Pedro Reyes, ZO-loft Architecture and Design, William McDonough + Partners, Achim Menges, Andrew Maynard Architects, Tina Hovsepian, Alejandro Aravena, Jenny Sabin and Eric Ellingsen Studio Lab: Jingyang Liu Leo, Kevin Jin He and Won Ryu, Peta Feng and Malgorzata Pawlowska, Davison Design: Zhou Ying and Niu Yuntao, Journeyman Pictures, IKEA Foundation and UNHCR (UN Refugee Agency)

Full exhibition info

Onsite Gallery is the flagship professional gallery of OCAD U and an experimental curatorial platform for art, design and new media. Visit our website for upcoming public events.

The gallery is located at 199 Richmond St. W, Toronto, ON, M5V 0H4.

Telephone: 416-977-6000, ext. 265.

Opening hours are: Wednesdays to Fridays from noon to 7 p.m.; Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m. Free admission; click here for visitor information.