Capital Design Guidelines

Design excellence is an aspiration; it is something to strive for. The evaluation of design is based on many variables and factors, and there are no fixed criteria for what constitutes excellence in all instances. However, at its core, design excellence is characterized by the following principles:

  • Suitable designs are well adapted to their use or purpose. This encompasses considerations such as functionality, contextual appropriateness and character.

  • Accessible designs provide universal access to public spaces, services and amenities. This means identifying and removing barriers and ensuring that everyone can participate, regardless of ability.

  • Inclusive designs reflect the diversity of Canadians. This means identifying and addressing issues of equity, equality, privilege and power to provide benefits for all, without excluding vulnerable or marginalized groups.

  • Durable designs are sound, sustainable, robust and adaptable over time. This also relates to structural capacity, longevity and timelessness of materials.

  • Pleasing designs are aesthetically and experientially refined, resulting in a feeling of satisfaction or enjoyment. This encompasses aspects of beauty, comfort, innovation, excitement and inspiration.

The best designs will address each of these principles, proposing solutions that appear flawlessly adapted to their situation. Excellent design will enhance the Capital’s symbolism, dignity and prestige by creating significant and appealing spaces. It will contribute to cultural and natural landscapes, being context-sensitive and appropriately located to preserve and enhance natural features. Key sites, places and institutions of national prominence will provide a strong sense of regional identity and meaning to a broad range of people. And the public realm will be welcoming and enjoyable, while the places and structures of the Capital will stand the test of time by being sustainable, robust and durable.

In all instances, design innovation will build on the legacies of the past and respond to new and emerging challenges in order to create a thriving, meaningful and inspiring Capital for generations to come.