Transdisciplinarity in action for urban planning

We build, we develop, but do we always know what we are doing? Proper city design requires time for reflection and for the development of a good plan. The Groupe interdisciplinaire de recherche sur les banlieues (Interdisciplinary Research Group on Suburbs), directed by Carole Després from Université Laval, has developed a transdisciplinary research and action program aimed at the development of sustainable design projects for the Quebec metropolitan region. 

In addition to scientific research, the research group relies on research-creation, i.e. the development of architectural and urban projects, as well as research-action, in the form of participatory planning processes. The establishment of a dialogue between the disciplines of sciences and the arts lies at the heart of these projects. The research group draws on urban design resources and skills to create visionary and concrete projects that will lead to viable city development. The participatory planning processes themselves encourage the promotion of knowledge obtained through research and its transfer to the actors in urban development. 

The researchers have orchestrated two major participatory planning projects. The first consisted of an 18-month reflection on the future of the ageing suburbs of the Quebec City area, in consultation with more than 60 officials and decision-makers from various ministries and organizations at the regional, municipal and community levels. Many of the ideas resulting from this process have been integrated into urban planning tools, notably by the Réseau de transport de la Capitale and the City of Quebec. 

The second project involved the design and planning of a new residential area on the Université Laval campus: the PACTE Myrand Project. This project relied on the gradual development of consensus between some 120 participants, including representatives from Université Laval, various student associations, the City of Quebec, the local merchants association and real estate developers. 

The researchers have participated in the production of many scientific and general-public works and research reports, as well as being invited to speak about the implementation of transdisciplinarity at conferences in Quebec, the United States and Europe.


Groupe interdisciplinaire de recherche sur les banlieues


Carole Després, Université Laval

Regular members

  • Manon Boulianne, Université Laval 
  • Andrée Fortin, Université Laval 
  • Pierre Gauthier, Université Concordia 
  • Florent Joerin, Université Laval 
  • Nik Luka, Université McGill 
  • Tania Martin, Université Laval 
  • Gianpiero Moretti, Université Laval 
  • Stéphane Roche, Université Laval 
  • Geneviève Vachon, Université Laval