DIALOGer Jason Heinrich wins prestigious LafargeHolcim Award

DIALOGer Jason Heinrich wins prestigious LafargeHolcim Award

Jason Heinrich thinks differently about how we should approach Urban Densification, and LafargeHolcim agrees with him.

Heinrich, who is a vital member of the firm’s Green Team, has been celebrated with a Next Generation LafrageHolcim Sustainability Award. His thesis, developed under Mari Fujita at the University of British Columbia, was awarded the second prize. ‘Method for step-by-step urban densification to create an urban commons.’ establishes a series of guidelines for Urban Densification in the City of Vancouver by using parametric modeling, and a holistic approach to sustainable design that seeks to benefit people, place and the environment.

The below is an excerpt from Heinrich’s winning thesis – and a glimpse into an alternative approach to foster sustainable density…

“Sustainable cities require local decision-making and block-centric planning Centralized master planning is slow to adapt to changing demographics and technology. It does not account for local natural ecology or local needs. Relational Urbanism is based upon block scale economies for negotiation of unused regulatory assets. Excess assets can be traded or mutual agreements to share resources can be made between neighbors within a block. This localized economy exists on a centrally controlled platform, thus the city’s mandate is not to prescribe development, but manage the framework for it to occur. Decision making over public land such as laneways and street frontages are also given to block residents. This enables locals to find creative solutions to their specific needs. Without stringent land use policies, cities are free to evolve from the bottom-up.”

“My goal is to design with more intelligence—I’m passionate about parametric and computation design mainly because I can analyze the performance, and design aesthetics that are beyond intuition or a typical creative process. This allows me to embed energy efficiency, environmental control into the design from the very beginning so that instead of being tacked on, environmental strategies can enhance the social experience and overall aesthetic.”


Evolution of three blocks was computer simulated using the Relational Urbanism rule set over 30 years. Negotiations between agents were modeled and recorded. The open framework resulted in sustained growth through incremental development. Negotiations enabled private yards to become shared spaces to meet green space requirements and micro energy systems developed organically due to energy recovery regulations
Negotiation is critical to cooperation, interdependence, and democracy. The laneway is vestigial of a car-oriented city. Authority is given back
to the inhabitants to collectively decide the future of their city and enabling local transformation of blocks.

Read more on Jason’s thesis and the LafargeHolcim Awards here.

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