Capital Design Guidelines

adaptive re-use

The conversion of a building into a use other than that for which it was designed, such as changing a warehouse into a gallery space or housing. [changement de vocation]


Features or services that enhance the convenience, comfort or enjoyment of a site or place. These may include public infrastructure such as washrooms, furnishings, design elements, or commercial offerings. [commodité ou installation]


A quality of the built environment which supports sustained activity through the architectural and artistic embellishment of materials and details, the visual and physical accessibility of interior activities from the exterior, and the introduction of supportive public facilities and amenities. [animation]

building envelope

The three-dimensional exterior form of a building encompassing its interior volume. [enveloppe du bâtiment]

capital realm

The areas of highest national importance, symbolism and quality, including sites and lands serving a federal function (e.g. a national museum or federal institutions). [domaine de la capitale]

Confederation Boulevard

The Capital’s ceremonial and discovery route, which links a circuit through the downtown areas of Ottawa and Gatineau. [boulevard de la Confédération]


The face of a building, especially the principal front that looks onto a street or open space, including its design, materials and architectural features. [façade]

human scale

The quality of the physical environment which reflects a sympathetic proportional relationship to human dimensions and which contributes to a person’s perception and comprehension of the size, scale, height, bulk and/or massing of buildings or other features of the built environment. [échelle humaine]


The combination of the three dimensions of length, height and depth which give a building its overall shape; a building may be composed of many masses, hence the term massing, which is often used to describe the form or shape of structures. [volume]

national capital region

The seat of the Government of Canada and its surrounding area as defined in the National Capital Act. [région de la capitale nationale]


The ratio or relative size of two or more dimensions or features; the term can be used to refer to the ratio of the width of a street to the height of adjacent buildings, or to compare the height, size and mass of adjacent buildings. [proportion]

public realm

The public and semi-public spaces of the Capital, including the street spaces of the city from building face to the opposite building face (including the façade, front yard, sidewalk and streets) and open space such as parks and squares. [domaine public]


The act or process of reproducing by new construction the exact form and detail of a previously existing building, structure, or object, or a part thereof, as it appeared at a specific time. [reconstruction]


The act or process of accurately recovering the form and details of a property and its setting as it appeared at a particular period of time by means of the removal of later work or by the replacement of missing earlier work. [restauration]


The apparent size of elements within a design, such as buildings or spaces, in relation to the overall context. [échelle]


The distinguishing elements and character of a particular street as created by its width, degree of curvature, paving materials, design of the street furniture, pedestrian amenities and setback and form of surrounding buildings. [paysage de rue]

urban design

The planning and design of cities focusing on the three-dimensional form and function of public and publicly accessible space. [aménagement urbain]

urban fabric

The integration and relationships between the elements of urban form, such as the patterns, variety, and assemblage of built and unbuilt spaces, the sequence of streets, blocks, buildings, parks and open spaces that together constitute the Capital. [tissu urbain]

urban form

The physical layout and structure of the Capital and the comprehensive relationships of its fundamental components, such as streets, buildings and public spaces. [forme urbaine]


Landscape, architectural elements, settlement patterns, and building types that result from local or regional building traditions and conventions. [vernaculaire]


That which can be seen from a particular observation point, particularly a landscape, monument, landmark or building. [vue, point de vue, ligne de vue]


A scenic view or panorama often characterized by a wide and expansive perspective which may include foreground, midground and background elements such as natural landscapes, urban skylines, or other landmark features. [vue, panorama]