Urban Ecologies

Visual identity, printed materials, website, web application, promotional videos and series of animations produced for OCAD University's Urban Ecologies Conference 2013.

Urban environments are complex systems where a multitude of seemingly unrelated components interact. The domain of ecology, which investigates the complex interactions of natural systems, offers a new frame with which to view urban environments through. Not as disparate parts, but as interrelated parts of a whole. Urban Ecologies 2013 as a conference poses questions surrounding this new perspective, bringing together various disciplines to address the following five themes: Regenerating Cities, Visualizing Information, Thinking Systems, Creating Community, and Building Health. The Urban Ecologies 2013 logo attempts to capture this within a seemingly simple mark.

Inspired by the visualization studies of Jacques Bertin, the patterns and textures found within architecture and urban planning, and the concept of a Venn diagram. The intent of this identity is to respect the complexity of urban ecology while illustrating the multitude of overlapping domains. The identity brings together five differing patterns that overlap with one and other to form a more complex—yet unified—pattern at the heart of the mark. While the shapes overlap, the patterns of each shape can be seen emerging out of the larger form, while still remaining tightly interwoven within the other patterns.

Too often conferences addressing issues of the urban context rely heavily upon visuals found in architecture, or sustainability, which can dissuade researchers with relevant work from attending the conference. The Urban Ecologies 2013 conference branding was designed to specifically address these issues of oversimplification and exclusion, establishing a common ground for attendees of all disciplines. This is a positive step, as disparate fields of research rarely find themselves within the same boundary. The identity system effectively normalized the platform for discussion and offered a memorable mark that captures the diversity of urban ecological knowledge.

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