Can students strengthen connections between cities and their surrounding regions?

Historically, city boundaries were defined by how far people could travel in one hour. These boundaries determined the reach of a city’s infrastructure, and its exchanges with surrounding areas. With the forces of globalization and dramatic geographic, social and economic shifts, the time has come to reimagine these boundaries. We’re challenging students to consider new ways for urban, suburban, and rural communities to connect to opportunity.

Presented by AECOM and Van Alen Institute, with 100 Resilient Cities — Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation, hOUR City is the 2017 Urban SOS® student ideas competition. Seeking new solutions to tackle housing, transportation, or economic development challenges, it challenged students to re-imagine what a future “hour city” boundary can be.

The three systems represent some of the biggest challenges society faces today: How do we increase the supply of affordable housing? How can we improve mobility to offer greater access to jobs, homes and services? Can we develop more equitable economies that reach a wider range of people?

Multidisciplinary student teams from more than 31 countries worldwide proposed design solutions, policy strategies, business models and other solutions to address their chosen challenge. Four juries comprised of industry leaders in Hong Kong, London, New York and Sydney reviewed their submissions and selected four finalists;

  • Alternative Ways of Transportation, Bangkok, Thailand: Proposes a new, formalized multimodal pathway along one of Bangkok’s many underutilized canals, connecting isolated residential communities to public transit.
  • The Healthy City, Oakland, California: Envisions connecting communities suffering from high rates of chronic diseases (e.g., asthma, diabetes, etc.) to the physical spaces and resources of healthcare providers, using traffic calming, recreational opportunities and new transit options.
  • The Holding Project, Belfast, Northern Ireland: Proposes a joint-housing and economic development plan in central Belfast, tailored to renters aged 18-35. On publicly-owned vacant sites, the team envisions new pre-fabricated micro-units that would save construction time and costs; tenants would set aside 20 percent of their monthly rent as savings.
  • New Suburban Living, Melbourne, Australia: This team developed designs and a planning process for new types of housing in Melbourne’s Middle Suburbs to address the region’s housing shortage and better meet the needs of residents.

The four finalist teams will advance to the final in Los Angeles in January 2018, where a total of US$15,000 in prize money will be distributed among the teams, and the winning team will receive up to US$25,000 of in-kind support from AECOM to implement a pilot of their proposal.

Find more details on this year’s finalists here. Follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter for updates.

Urban SOS® 2017: hOUR City is a project of AECOM and Van Alen Institute, in collaboration with 100 Resilient Cities — Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation.
Urban SOS® is a trademark and registered trademark of AECOM in the U.S.