New GBC lab reimagines the way we live

The Future Ways of Living Lab will model the improved city

George Brown College (GBC) is redefining the way we explore possibilities for innovation with the commissioning of a Future Ways of Living Lab.

This facility will be located at the new school of design, which is set to open at the Daniels Waterfront – City of the Arts at Lower Jarvis Street and Queens Quay East, Toronto.

The lab will be a space for the building of prototypes with the involvement of students from the arts, design, and technology programs.

The plan is for interdisciplinary collaboration that will tackle what is to come in workplaces within the industry.

“We’re going to be looking at the next few years, at the future of work, because work is changing just so dramatically,” Luigi Ferrara, dean at the centre for arts, design, and information technology at GBC.

The lab will first test the creative industries before moving on to construction, business, healthcare, and hospitality within the next two years.

It will be a collaborative effort with Meet, a new digital cultural centre in Milan and a long-time partner in GBC’s DigiFest, a tech festival and startup event at the college.

The Future Ways of Living project started at Expo Milano 2015, where students from GBC met with students around the world to re-think societal systems with the future in mind.

In this process, they wrote a book, Future Ways of Living, based on their first project in Milan. It later became a documentary with the same name, which is now available on Amazon Prime.

The college was invited back to Milan the following year, where there were 450 acres of space left empty from Expo in 2015, to re-design the site.

Around this time, the idea of a lab began to emerge as there was no permanent space for these projects.

The Global Village, another documentary based on this project, premiered in Dec. 2018 in the Milan International Film Festival.

Electronic bus shelters and interactive gaming on subways are just some examples of projects that were explored by students to rethink the way we live, said Ferrara.

The goal of GBC’s Future Ways of Living Lab is to be a “city of experiences” where one wall of the lab will be a screen with a real-time connection to the centre in Milan.

One example of the prototypes that will be built in the lab includes modular units to solve housing issues for young people and the homeless.

“Can we imagine something like that and actually make a prototype so we can prove to the world that it can be done?” Ferrara asked.

“We’re thinking about all the issues in our life, holistically, and we’re trying to come up with solutions that work positively for us,” she said, “as opposed to having solutions that take us into a dystopian future.”

Although the lab is located in the school of design, they encourage collaboration from all departments.

With files from Leslie Gallagher.

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New GBC lab reimagines the way we live