A land-based project office dedicated to the generation of new media and alternative forms of knowledge to help conceive actionable research and transformative strategies related to pressing and long-standing territorial challenges that are material, social, ecological, and political in scope. Conceived as part-laboratory, part-studio, and part-workshop, OPSYS addresses complex, spatial, and historical issues—through detail and precision, through diagrams and approximations, through models and prototypes—by the design and development of simple, grounded strategies as the basis for open-ended, adaptable, yet resilient infrastructures, across a range of scales, that support and promote a multitude of future, contemporary, and traditional forms of life.

Combining knowledge from the earth, engineering and economic sciences, we work with small, active communities and nimble, entrepreneurial individuals, as much as with large, creative institutions who are committed to change in addressing spatial inequalities, territorial injustices, environmental inhumanities. With a focus on land, landscape, and law, our experience includes collaborative and transformative projects with regional communities, non-profit organizations, land & infrastructure authorities, engineering consortiums, educational institutions, resource industries, and government agencies. For each project, we work with a team of transdisciplinary specialists in the design of infrastructural ecologies—often involving processes that we refer to as unplanning, unmapping, and deengineering—with an eye towards the establishment of vivid, vibrant, and verdant environments. This approach towards deconstruction and reconstruction is condition by geographic thinking and soft, material intelligence, with a commitment to the cultivation of social equity and representation of strong, collective agency across generations.

Conceived in 2001 at a moment of political uncertainty and territorial insecurity to address spatial issues across different states, systems, and scales, OPSYS initiates, engages, and works with a portfolio of partners and projects funded by a range of public/private/philanthropic organizations. Past and present collaborators include the Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation, Canada Council for the Arts, Art Gallery of Alberta, Charles River Conservancy, Boston Society of Architects, Canada Foundation for Innovation, Royal Bank of Canada, Landscape Architecture Foundation, The Walrus, Transport Canada, Foreign Affairs & International Trade Canada, the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council, the Netherlands Architecture Institute, the Toronto Region Conservation Authority, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, Cadillac Fairview Corporation, Waste Management Inc., Landscape Architecture Canada Foundation, and City of Toronto.

OPSYS, and its implementation arm LANDSCAPE INFRASTRUCTURE LAB, are founded and directed by Pierre Bélanger. Trained as a landscape architect, urban planner, project manager, and machine operator in Canada, the United States and the Netherlands, Dr. Bélanger works as a designer, curator, cartographer, author, educator, and builder with transdisciplinary expertise in the areas of ecology, infrastructure, media and urbanism. As author and editor, Dr. Bélanger has published five books and major projects that challenge predominant states of civil engineering and urban planning rooted in the military-industrial and settler-colonial complex. Titles includeLANDSCAPE AS INFRASTRUCTURE, ECOLOGIES OF POWER (co-authored with Alexander Arroyo), GOING LIVE: from States to Systems (Pamphlet Architecture #35), RISK ECOLOGIES (co-produced with Miho Mazereeuw), and Harvard Design Magazine #39 WET MATTER (co-edited with Jennifer Sigler). As educator and pedagogical innovator, he has taught courses and coordinated programs at graduate and postgraduate levels, as well as overseen counter-cartographic research for nearly two decades at postgraduate and post-doctoral levels in the interrelated fields of design, planning, and engineering. Institutions include Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design and Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, as well as the University of Toronto’s Daniels Faculty of Design and Center for Landscape Research. As designer, and builder, he received the Canada Prix de Rome in Architecture and was Curator of the controversial Canada Pavilion and Exhibition EXTRACTIONat the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale ( @1partperbillion). In collaboration with a range of creators and changemakers, he is currently releasing an edited volume titled EXTRACTION EMPIRE,with accompanying film CONTRA-CARTA: 2018-1215, documenting 800 years of colonial domination and territorial dispossession underlying the systems, states, and scales of Canada as the largest extraction nation on the planet.

Current members of the Office and Lab include: Pablo Escudero (Project Manager, Research Coordinator, Architect), Hernán Bianchi-Benguria (Publications Coordinator, Planner, Geographer), Tiffany Kaewen Dang (Cartographic Production, Project Architect), Ghazal Jafari (Publications/Visualization Editor, Architect, Urbanist), and Pablo Escudero (Research/Media Architect). Additional project members and research leads include: Kate Yoon (Publications & Media Researcher), Zannah Matson (Project Manager & Lead Landscape Architect), Chris Alton (Project Manager & Lead Researcher), Aya Abdallah & Emanuela Inneli (Exhibition Interpreters), Jinjin Zhang (Publications Coordinator), Séréna Vanbutsele & Sam Gillis (Publications Researchers), Hamed Bukhamseen (Project Designer), Sean Connelly/Mark Jongman-Sereno/Foad Vahidi (Project Designers Pamphlet Architecture), Hillary Archer (Video Producer), Alexander S. Arroyo (Project Architect, Landscape of Defense), Chris Bennett (Project Designer, Systems of Evacuation), Anya Domlesky (Project Researcher, Estuarine Urbanization), Alexandra Gauzza (Project Architect, Estuarine Urbanization), Sara Jacobs (Map Designer, Landscape of Defense), Anne Clark Baker (Project Cartographer, Estuarine Urbanization).

Past collaborators include: Alexandra Gauzza, Danika Cooper, Martin Pavlinic, Vineet Diwadkar, Tracie Curry, Adriana Chavez, Oscar Malaspina, Einat Rosenkrantz, Elena Tudela, Xiaowei Wang, Hana Disch, Stephan Hausheer, Christina Milos, Chen Chen, Pamela Ritchot, Chris de Vries, Curtis Roth, Kimberley Garza, Kees Lokman, Luke Hegeman, Kelly Doran, Fadi Masoud, Behnaz Assadi, Hoda Matar, David Christensen, Brett Hoonaert, Andrew tenBrink, Sarah Thomas, Kimberly Garza, Aisling O'Carroll, Jacqueline Urbano, Ed Zec, Maya Przybylski, Joshua Cohen, Daniel Seiders, Deborah Kenley, Daniella Bacchin, and Tawab Hlimi.

Current Board of Directors include: Nina-Marie Lister (Professor & Founder, Ecological Design Lab, Graduate Program Director, Ryerson University School Urban & Regional Planning), Alexander Reford (Founder & Director, Jardins de Métis/Reford Gardens), and Robert Wright (Dean, School of Forestry, University of Toronto, Director, Centre for Landscape Research).

©2001-19 OPSYS. All content on this site is protected and cannot be reproduced without written permission and attribution. OPSYS is a design research organization legally registered as a non-corporation in the US and Canada, with LANDSCAPE INFRASTRUCTURE LAB based in Boston, Toronto, Singapore, and the UAE. Site content represents a selection of actual project work. For inquiries or more information, contact info@opsys.net. Website originally built and adapted with Indexhibit.