Pseudo-public spaces: Do you feel you belong here?

Experience first-hand the blurry boundaries between public and private space as we walk over, under, and through some of Ottawa's most prominent landmarks. See your city from a new perspective – literally and figuratively – from places you’ve never noticed before or have walked by a hundred times.

As we attempt to access these places and spaces – some of which are publicly-accessible, some that are behind nondescript doors, and some that are hidden in plain sight – what will we come across? Locked doors and security guards? Comfy seating and free wi-fi? An empty dead space or a lively gathering place?

We’ll get a chance to ask ourselves: Do we feel like we are allowed to be here? To do what and for how long? Who gets to set and enforce the rules? What is it about the design that makes us feel comfortable or unwelcome? And would other people of different ages and cultural or socioeconomic backgrounds feel the same way?


We'll meet around the bandshell stage in front of the World Exchange Plaza at the corner of Metcalfe and Albert. We will then head towards Elgin St. to visit Performance Court and the NAC, before heading east to the Rideau Centre and then finally into the Market to the plaza outside the south entrance of the ByWard Market Building.

The tour will take approximately 90 minutes, depending on how quickly we walk and how often we stop. There will be lots of opportunities for washroom breaks or to sit and rest.

About the walk leader

James Chan is an urbanism enthusiast with a particular appreciation for thoughtfully-designed architecture, infrastructure, and the public realm. He has worked with community organizations in the areas of parks, complete streets, and civic participation. In 2016, he co-led a popular Jane's Walk with Nico Koenig titled "WHY IS THERE A PARKING LOT HERE?!?!" 

Note: today's tour is adapted from a longer version offered through Ottawa (de)Tours. Learn more at


James Chan

Date:Sat May 5, 2018
Time:2:30 PM
Duration: 1 hour
Language: English
Start:World Exchange Plaza, Metcalfe & Albert
End:ByWard Market Building
Area:Centretown/ByWard Market
Distance:1.0 km

We will be going up and down floors and elevations, but the route and all buildings should be wheelchair accessible. 

Volunteer to Marshal This Walk