Principles and Design Elements

VISIONARY (re)GENERATION Open International Design Competition


In 2008 the University of Manitoba purchased the Southwood Golf and Country Club, a 48 hectare (120 acre) site located adjacent to our Fort Garry Campus. The Southwood Lands offer a unique opportunity to transform our campus into a destination community through the development of a new, sustainable, multi-use neighbourhood that provides a 24/7 live/work/learn/play environment.

The potential benefits extend beyond our campus community to the greater City of Winnipeg, where the Southwood Lands provide an opportunity to create a vital and attractive community adjacent to the University within the city proper, surrounded by existing infrastructure.  This has an advantage over new neighbourhood developments on the periphery of the city that require new infrastructure and are removed from amenities. The enhanced campus area will be designed to be attractive to students and staff, to residents from across Winnipeg, as well as tourists, thus boosting Winnipeg’s economy. A well-designed community will have every convenience within a few steps, offering a comfortable and desirable lifestyle. This community will not be defined by an automobile-dependent land use pattern; rather it will be designed with a focus on public realm spaces connected by an integrated network of pedestrian systems. The result will be a vibrant, mixed-use, sustainable campus community.

University students and staff, surrounding Winnipeg neighborhoods, and the broader Winnipeg community are all watching these lands with great interest.  How will they be developed?  How will these lands transform the University?  To answer these questions, the University and our Board of Governors have elected to develop the campus plan through an Open International Design Competition.  The outcome of this competition will be the award of a master plan contract to the winning multi-disciplinary consultant team. 


There are three phases to the University of Manitoba Campus Master Planning Process. The first phase involves the collection of ideas from all stakeholders to create the visioning framework for the competition brief. The second phase is VISIONARY (re)GENERATION, an Open International Design Competition. This phase begins with the competition launch in January 2013 and ends with the awards ceremony for the Area Master Plan, anticipated in October 2013. The third or final phase begins with the contract award to the winning design team; a multi-disciplinary team that will engage in an area master plan development process with the University and community stakeholders.  It is important to note that stakeholder engagement is not a specific phase but rather a continuous process that will be carried throughout each phase of the integrated master planning process.

We are currently in the first phase of the process and moving towards the Open International Design Competition. An extensive public engagement process is underway with primary stakeholders to identify primary goals and key design principles to guide us through our master planning process.


The Competition Team is currently distilling and summarizing the findings from the initial brainstorming phase.  We have a diverse spectrum of ideas resulting from many public engagement sessions and meetings with key stakeholder groups, including:

  • The Sustainability Strategy

  • The Board of Governors Visioning Framework Workshop

  • The Integrated Planning Kick Off Workshop

  • The student-led Sustainability Day

  • University of Manitoba Retirees Association

  • Regular Neighbourhood Network meetings

  • City of Winnipeg

The team has summarized this valuable input into a series of goals and guiding principles, design elements, and site focus areas.  This information is significant as it will inform the competition brief and the overall master planning process. 


The repetition of key themes demonstrates strong consensus around the majority of ideas developed to date in consultation with our stakeholder groups.  The five guiding principles are: Connected, Destination, Sustainable, Community and Transformative.  These are the primary goals of this integrated planning process and will guide future development.  A framework of design elements provides additional detail to reinforce these guiding principles.  Finally, three areas of interest have been identified by the stakeholder groups that are significant development opportunities.  These areas of interest include; public riverbank access, redefinition of the Pembina Highway boundary, and transit oriented development as a catalyst for change.  These site opportunities will form the basis of the master-planning concepts to focus future master planning initiatives.


  1. Connected: Network the Campus, Connect to the City
    Focus on developing a network of linkages to connect the University and its public amenities to adjacent neighbouring communities.  Encourage compact development to connect people and places on campus and beyond.
  2.  Destination: Reasons to Come and Reasons to Stay
    Transform the university from a commuter campus to a destination site by developing a rich diversity of places to live, work, learn, and play.  The campus experience must be remarkable and unique.  By focusing on synergies, distinctiveness, and fundamental differences, this development can provide a qualitative change for the University and the community in which it resides.

  3. Sustainable: Campus as a Living Lab
    The development will be a model/showcase of best practices in sustainable urban design principles.  Sustainability must be understood in its broadest sense to achieve a social, economic, and environmental balance.   The collaborative and innovative design process will be an engine for change, resulting in a dynamic mix of uses.  This is an opportunity to test innovative design, technology, and research in the built environment.

  4. Community: Build for Density, Design for People
    Create a vibrant diverse community that includes mixed-use urban form in high density clusters of development centered on transit oriented hubs.  Focus development on human scale pedestrian movement with a rich network of integrated public places to encourage social interaction.  Provide features and amenities to attract students, staff, and residents from across Winnipeg.

  5. Transformative: Research and Learning to Garner Acclaim
    Develop the university into a complete community including a diversity of uses, density, forms, and systems.  Establish connections and create a sustainable community that is a destination site within Winnipeg.  The resulting transformative site will create new opportunities for the University of Manitoba as we strive to be nationally and internationally recognized for teaching, research, creativity and excellence, sought after by students and faculty alike as their preferred site of study.



A series of design elements have been identified to reinforce the guiding principles and to provide additional detail to the design process.

People First:  Focus development on human scale pedestrian movement with a network of public spaces to encourage social interaction.
Lifelong Learning: Create opportunities for formal, informal, experiential, and intergenerational learning options.
Aesthetics: Design for beauty and harmony.  Aesthetic integrity supports a physical environment that reflects and informs our sensibilities of what we value, beyond functional relationships.
Design to Innovate: This planning process is a research opportunity to use the campus as a living laboratory to test and apply leading-edge development concepts.
Fiscally Responsible: Development proposals must consider economic realities and be designed in a fiscally responsible way.
Flexible and Adaptable: Plan systems and infrastructure for future flexibility, allowing the campus to adapt and change as the community evolves.
Ecological Infrastructure: Include strategies that propose connective urban landscapes that dual as ecological infrastructures.  A storm water management system can function as a pedestrian network.
Regional Context: The character of the plan must identify and reflect our unique context, geographically, and socio-culturally.  Incorporate cold climate considerations into the design.



Through the public consultation process, many development opportunities were discussed. There were three dominant recurring sites that were identified as catalysts for the master plan design process. The site development zones are:

  1. Campus Riverbank System - Create a continuous riverfront public space system, connecting new development zones to the existing campus through a network of trails and open green spaces. The riverbank should be planned as part of the public accessible community.
  2. Pembina Highway Corridor - Development along the Pembina Highway corridor must result in clear linkages between the campus community and the city of Winnipeg. Gateways and landmarks noting clear entranceways should be part of the planning process.
  3. Transit Oriented Development Hub - Use TOD as a strategy to create a vibrant, high density, mixed-use, community focused around a series of transit stop hubs, providing an alternative to the existing low-density development and current automobile-dependent land use pattern.