Tara Bissett

Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream


Tara Bissett is an architectural and urban historian. Her PhD from the University of Toronto considered the relationship between architecture and craft labour practices, with focus on the centrality of ornament in architectural discourse in the wake of printing press technology. Her current research continues to explore the relationships between craft cultures and architecture with a focus on labour communities and informal urbanism in both early-twentieth century and contemporary contexts.

She is currently writing a number of articles culminating in a book about several female activists working in Toronto throughout 1910-1940, who proposed to transform the city with innovative planning experiments. Her research also sheds new light on the role played by marginalized artists and craftspeople working in studios and craft collectives in New York, Moscow, and Toronto in transforming their neighbourhoods into important artistic undergrounds that were overlooked by traditional art institutions and city planners. Tara’s research is an investigation into the field of care ethics and its role in the creation of collective practice and its subsequent manifestation in informal and spontaneous urban contexts.

Having been awarded the Ontario Undergraduate Teaching Alliance, Teaching Excellence Award in 2021, Tara is dedicated to innovation in teaching and evaluation processes. She is a member of the University of Waterloo’s Racial Equity and Environmental Justice Task Force, where she is passionate about bringing issues of equity to the fore in her research, the classroom, and university programs in general.

Research and Creative Practice Interest/Expertise

  • Craft History and Theory
  • Informal Urbanism
  • Cooperatives, Collective Practice
  • Care Ethics
  • Pedagogy and Teaching Innovation