The Spaces of Restorative
and Transitional Justice

Image by Marcela Torres, inspired by Circle space at Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation
Image by Marcela Torres, inspired by Circle space at Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation

Restorative justice is an alternative form of justice that seeks to effect reconciliation between perpetrators and survivors. Transitional justice has similar goals but aims to foster reconciliation between offenders and oppressed groups at the scale of the community and even the nation. The values of “truth, accountability, reparation, reconciliation, conflict resolution and democratic participation” are key for both restorative and transitional justice, which are hoped to promote understanding and healing in the wake of war, colonialism and other forms of violent conflict (O’Mahony and Doak 2012: 305. DOI: 10.1163/157181212X650010). Fundamentally, both forms of alternative justice aim to repair social bonds through truth-telling, witnessing, and facing the atrocities of the past.

In some countries, such as Colombia, there is a well-developed design discourse on what reconciliation should look and feel like, in a spatial sense. In Canada, however, during the activities of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, alternative justice workers had to contend with “make do” or “found” spaces such as schools and churches, which were inseparable from the kinds of trauma that the commission aimed to address. The Spaces of Restorative and Transitional Justice is a research-creation project based at Concordia University in Montréal, Québec, Canada. It asks, what is the nature of the spaces used for alternative justice practices? And how can we learn from listening to alternative justice architects, case workers, and advocates in order to create better spaces for this work? This website provides an open-access tool for practitioners of restorative justice and transitional justice worldwide. Here the visitor will find: case studies of alternative justice spaces, both purpose-built and adaptive re-use; interviews with diverse individuals involved in the field of alternative justice, and (by fall 2022); designs produced by architecture students at the School of Architecture, McGill University, responding to these materials and proposing provisional solutions for the spatial needs of alternative justice at different scales.

This project is led by Dr Cynthia Hammond (Art History, Concordia University) in collaboration with Dr Luis Sotelo Castro (Acts of Listening Lab/Department of Theatre, Concordia University), Dr Ipek Türeli (Canada Research Chair in Architectures of Spatial Justice, School of Architecture, McGill University) and a team of research assistants. (See people.) 


Dr Cynthia Imogen Hammond

Dr Cynthia Imogen Hammond is an artist and a professor of Art History at Concordia University. Her work focuses on women and the history of the built environment, urban landscapes, research-creation, and oral history. She has published on the spatial history of the suffrage movement, public art, gardens, and the politics of urban change. In addition to her research on the spaces of restorative and transitional justice, she is leading an oral history project on the urban memories of diverse Montrealers.

Dr Luis Sotelo Castro

Dr Luis Sotelo Castro is a former Canada Research Chair in Oral History Performance (2016-2021). He is Associate Professor in the Theatre Department at Concordia University, and co-director of Concordia’s Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling (COHDS). His Canada Foundation for Innovation Infrastructure Grant enabled him to create the Acts of Listening Lab (ALLab) in 2018. Based at COHDS, the ALLab is a leading research-creation hub for the transformative power of listening.

Dr Ipek Türeli

Dr Ipek Türeli is Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Architectures of Spatial Justice (Tier 2) at the Peter Guo-hua Fu School of Architecture at McGill University, Montréal, Québec, Canada. Her research interests include low-income housing and participatory design, civil protest and urban design, and campus landscapes and race. Her publications include the co-edited book, Orienting Istanbul (2010) and solo-authored book, Istanbul Open City (2018).

Greg Labrosse

Greg Labrosse is a PhD candidate in Humanities at Concordia University. His research focuses on spatial agency, social aesthetics, youth narratives, and graphic representations of urban memory. He has published on the relationship between children, play, and public space in Cartagena, Colombia. He has also worked as an editor on literary projects, including Territorio Fértil, which received the María Nelly Murillo Hinestroza award for Afro-Colombian literature.

Marcela Torres Molano

Marcela Torres Molano is a Colombian PhD candidate in the Department of Art History at Concordia University. She has a background in architectural design and community activism and holds a master’s degree in Building and Urban Design from the Bartlett School of Architecture in London, England. Her interests focus on socially-engaged art, social movements, collaborative activism in post-conflict scenarios, collectively-produced art, and art produced in relation to the built environment.

Vanessa Sicotte

Vanessa Sicotte is an author, speaker, columnist, and podcaster in the fields of architecture and decorative arts. She is completing her MA in Art History at Concordia University, Montréal, and holds a Bachelor of Commerce with a major in Marketing from John Molson School of Business. She studied Industrial Psychology in Los Angeles, California. Sicotte is the author of two published books on design (2015, 2018) published by Les Éditions Cardinal.


This project has been funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the Acts of Listening Lab at Concordia University.

All inquiries regarding the content on this website may be directed to Cynthia Hammond

Further Reading: Click here to download our bibliography.