Before the flood: urban geographies of transformational climate adaptation

The economic impacts of climate change in the built environment (increased energy costs, flood remediation, accelerated degradation of municipal infrastructure, construction of new sea barriers, climate migration, etc.) will be felt unevenly, creating a new set of economic and societal pressures that will amplify or alter pre-existing forces of gentrification, urban renewal and housing security in Canadian cities. This geospatial analysis examines confounding relationships around proximity to water: property values and predicted sea level rise in Richmond, BC.

Project team: Zach Colbert, Monika Imeri


A fishing village for the future where community and circular economy stabilize a receding shoreline.

Project team: Zach Colbert, Matt Nestico

Urban energy shift

This study is developing the application of intermittent power generation technology to building wastewater systems through the design of a gravity turbine prototype concept for eventual field application. This research is in partnership with the Condominium Homeowners Association of British Columbia who are providing access to local communities, resources, and sites. The research is carried out through hands-on data collection and public consultation in an interdisciplinary program bridging the fields of mechanical engineering, public policy and architecture. The research team is developing the turbine design and investigating both its scalable effects and its commercial viability. Discipline-specific tasks are led by team members with relevant expertise, but the work engages the entire research team in a collaborative environment.

OAA shift 2019: Infrastructure challenge

Winning entry to the Ontario Association of Architects biennial SHIFT design awards competition.

Project team: Zach Colbert, Shelby Hagerman, Connor Tamboro, Jasmine Sykes, James Nguyen, Antonio Gioventu

Reopening Retail: Architectural Strategies for Adapting Retail Environments to Physical Distancing Protocols

The aesthetics of modernism were partly responses to the Spanish Flu pandemic and various tuberculosis outbreaks wherein the notion of hygienic architecture became universally desirable. In light of another major public health crisis, how will architecture and urban design respond? This research is developing adaptive architectural design standards and recommendations to accommodate physical distancing measures in Canadian retail environments, to protect public health while bolstering customer confidence.

Project team: Zach Colbert, Josh Wallace, Matt Nestico, Ju Huang, Travis Strochinski


Architecture has a long history of unbuilt projects. Failed financing, a competition loss, a client with cold feet, or an economic collapse can render a project unbuildable. But there is also a world of purposefully unbuilt architecture – critical, speculative architectural fictions – that merge spatial and temporal working methods to apprehend the complex world around us in new ways and to anticipate our collective future. This project examines seminal works of speculative architecture from 1900-2000 through comparative case studies and draws alignments between these works and the anticipatory frameworks that enabled them. Based upon the long-established scholarship and practice of speculative architecture and the emerging scholarship of anticipation studies, this research builds upon work that distinguishes anticipation as an empirical phenomenon from the conditions that make anticipation possible. This project has been publicly presented at the 2019 Anticipations Conference in conjunction with the 2019 Oslo Architecture Triennale.

Project team: Zach Colbert