Handbooks of Best Practices in Design

June 25, 2008

The Cahiers des bonnes pratiques en design—Imaginer, réaliser la ville du 21e siècle (''Handbooks of Best Practices in Design—Imagining and Achieving the City of the 21st Century'') are destined for anyone interested in improving the quality of the urban environment (e.g., elected officials, developers, municipal managers, urban design professionals) and seeking examples to inspire their approaches as well as tools to guide their activities.

This publication is an initial production emerging from the 2007–2017 Action Plan – Montréal Cultural Metropolis, which aims at enriching the cultural quality of the living environment via the promotion of excellence in architecture and design. The partners in the event Rendez-vous November 2007 – Montréal, Cultural Metropolis agreed on the importance of ensuring the widespread implementation of design competitions, workshops and panels so as to ensure the quality of projects ''upstream'' and introduce both guidance tools and financial incentives to facilitate such practices.

The handbooks will be enhanced over the years through the addition of methodological guides and new examples of Montréal-based best practices.

The Cahiers des bonnes pratiques en design urbain consist of three distinct documents:


Developed by Design Montréal, Imaginer, réaliser la ville du 21e siècle – Cahiers des bonnes pratiques en design is jointly published by the Ministère de la Culture, des Communications et de la Condition féminine and the Ville de Montréal, and financed through the Agreement on the Cultural Development of Montréal 2005–2008.

Three handbooks Imaginer, réaliser la ville du 21e siècle - Cahier des bonnes pratiques en design

Handbook No. 1 | Neuf exemples internationaux pour inspirer le renouvellement de l’action publique en design urbain

("Nine International Examples to Inspire Renewed Public Action in Urban Design")

Design quality of buildings and public spaces is becoming a primary objective to be attained so as to improve quality of life for citizens, build a sustainable future and impart a singular territorial identity, which is an essential factor for success in a globalizing, increasingly competitive world. All over the planet, a new political impetus in favour of excellence in design is emerging, and this first handbook contains examples of cities (Auckland, Glasgow, Saint-Étienne and Toronto), regions (Vorarlberg and Emscher Park) and countries (the United States, France and the United Kingdom) that have implemented policies, strategies and action plans in the area of urban design. While these nine international examples all aim at the same objective of excellence in design, they also have points in common when it comes to the measures introduced to reach that objective.

Three aspects are particularly apparent:

  • The creation of design innovation platforms to accelerate change
  • The importance ascribed to communications so as to promote development of shared visions
  • The use of design processes (panels, workshops, competitions) enabling improvements to the quality of projects while promoting greater participation by the public in the transformation of their living environment

Researched and written by: Denis Lemieux, Architect, Ministère de la Culture, des Communications et de la Condition feminine du Québec

Work conducted as part of a loan of services to the Ville de Montréal

Handbook No. 2 | Trois processus performants pour favoriser l’excellence en design urbain : panel, atelier, concours

("Three Effective Processes for Promoting Excellence in Urban Design: Panels, Workshops and Competitions")

The second handbook provides detailed presentations of three effective processes for promoting excellence in design (panels, workshops and competitions), illustrated with examples of applications and complemented by fact sheets. Together, they provide an operational framework that will be of use to stakeholders interested in setting up urban design panels or organizing workshops or competitions. As the international examples demonstrate, these three processes are management tools that contribute to improvements to the quality of the urban environment. Today, however, there are two further reasons in addition to the environmental objectives, favouring the use of these processes, for they promote greater participation by citizens and constitute added value that translates into economic benefits. This integration of the environmental, social and economic dimensions means that these design processes can be considered authentic sustainable development practices.

Researched and written by: Denis Lemieux, Architect, Ministère de la Culture, des Communications et de la Condition feminine du Québec

Work conducted as part of a loan of services to the Ville de Montréal

Handbook No. 3 | 21 projets montréalais pour amorcer durablement le 21e siècle

("21 Montréal Projects for Sustainable Initiation of 21st Century Design Practices")

The third handbook comprises 21 fact sheets describing projects that illustrate a range of best practices in urban design in Montréal. This initial selection, to be expanded upon in the years to come, consists of projects that were begun or completed at the turn of the century. The handbook is designed to be a working tool for municipal stakeholders and highlights both the diversity and the interest of certain practices related to the method of awarding commissions or of providing guidance for projects. The corpus considered corresponds to the larger, inclusive concept of living environment design. The concept encompasses territorial organization, the built environment, interior design and certain types of decorative objects. The strategies that were studied include programs, processes, financial arrangements, interest groups and other methods that demonstrate the value of a creative approach to design.

Coordinated and written by: Mario Brodeur, Architect, Jacques Lachapelle, Architect and Architecture Historian
Researched by: Caroline Tanguay, Jacques Martin

Fact sheet 21 produced in collaboration with François Gagné, Team Leader, Atelier d’architecture et de design urbain, Ville de Montréal.