Vancouver Summer Program

The Vancouver Summer Program is a four-week academic program offered by the University of British Columbia. By participating in the program, you can take two academic courses at this world-renowned university while learning about Canadian practices and culture.

We offer course packages that look at different aspects of architecture, landscape architecture, or urban design. While learning about these issues, you have a chance to improve your English and explore Canadian society and culture. In addition to interactive lectures and tours of the region, you can take part in a variety of social activities where you will meet students from other universities and UBC.

Summer 2020 packages: July 11 to August 11

Package A: Thinking by design 

Design thinking through making 
The built environment is full of design problems. From products to cities, these problems do not have correct answers, but rather a range of possible solutions. To tackle these design problems, we need to explore different ways of thinking. In this hands-on course, students will learn to approach open-ended problems through the lens of a designer and explore the built environment through hands-on design projects. Students will tackle each project in stages, from initial concept to final result, with interim reviews along the way. They will learn to communicate their ideas both verbally and to critically analyze the work of classmates. Drawing from examples in architecture, landscape architecture, urban design and product design, students will cultivate abstract thinking skills and increase their visual literacy.

Design thinking through drawing 
Drawing is an essential part of design thinking and communication. From sketches, to plans, to detailed diagrams, visual representation is a fundamental skill. While digital methods are increasingly common, the culture of putting pencil to paper is still at the heart of these techniques. This hands-on course introduces you to the drawing techniques used in architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design. Through lectures, field trips and in-studio sessions, students will learn methods of visually communicating concepts and intent. With a focus on analog, the skills developed in this course will offer a strong base for further studies in design and design media.

Package B: Urban landscape architecture

Green system planning
Vancouver is a beautiful and sustainable city in a dramatic natural setting. What role do the natural areas in and around the city play in sustaining a metropolitan area such as Vancouver? This course will introduce how urban natural areas clean air and water, sustain wildlife, and provide psychological and other health benefits to people. Students will learn about the most important environmental services and human benefits provided by the large parks and natural areas in the Vancouver region; and will hike or bike on guided field trips to some of the region’s most important and instructive landscapes, open spaces, and parks.

Design in the public realm
Vancouver is known as a liveable and sustainable international city. An important aspect of the city's liveability is the design of its public realm — publicly owned parks, greenways, waterfronts, streets and squares. A well designed public realm provides places for people to gather, socialize and recreate, encourages active transportation, maintains spaces for the urban forest and vegetation to thrive and contributes other environmental services to the city. In this field-based course students will learn how a well-planned and designed public realm supports liveable neighbourhoods and provides important social and environmental services to the city. Students will learn how to document and assess public spaces in the city and through daily field trips and guest lectures will study the City's best examples of public realm design.

Package C: Urban design

Perspectives on city making
This class, taught by the former Mayor of Vancouver Sam Sullivan, uses the development of the City of Vancouver to illustrate how many social, political, economic, creative and natural forces combine and interact to make a city. Students learn and experience these forces through the eyes of those who were a part of it. There will be tours and guest lectures from those who played a role in specific development projects. Students will gain an insight into both the practical and theoretical considerations that have led to the city, as we know it.

Sustainability by design
Using the city of Vancouver as a laboratory, this class introduces the basic principles of sustainable urban design through daily tours of internationally significant local examples. Relevance of these examples to global development is isolated and discussed. A typical day includes a lecture focusing on one principle of sustainable city design, followed by a tour of a place in the region where this principle is obvious. Students will see and experience examples of significant contemporary urban design practice in suburban, urban, and downtown contexts.



$5250 CAD

Application deadline

March 30, 2020

How to apply

Application site

Learn more

For more information about the Vancouver Summer program, including a sample schedule and details about accommodations, visit the program website:

Vancouver Summer Program

Contact information

If you have any questions about our courses, please contact:

Tara Deans
Manager, Student Services and Recruitment
School of Architecture + Landscape Architecture
379 – 2357 Main Mall
Vancouver, BC  V6T 1Z4