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. But dramatic geographic, social and economic shifts demand that we reimagine these boundaries. hOUR City challenged 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 was the 2017 Urban SOS® student ideas competition. Seeking solutions to three systems that represent some of the biggest urban challenges — housing, transportation, and economic development — it asked students to re-imagine what a future “hour city” boundary can be.

With entries from multidisciplinary student teams from more than 31 countries, four finalists were selected to compete at a live final in Los Angeles on January 23, 2018. A jury of leading professionals from the design, government, business and media sectors announced joint winners for the 2017 challenge, selecting teams that proposed solutions that would address urgent housing challenges in their respective cities.

  • The Holding Project, Belfast, Northern Ireland
    Submitted by Sean Cullen and Chris Millar, Queen’s University Belfast, the team proposes a joint-housing and economic development model that creates affordable city center housing, and sets aside 20 percent of tenants’ rent as savings. The team aims to improve the social mobility of the nearly 38,000 young people in need of social housing, and to help retain talented young people in Belfast.
  • New Suburban Living, Melbourne, Australia
    Submitted by Lauren Garner, RMIT University, and Lisa Anne Garner, Universität Der Künste, the team proposes a new development model for Melbourne’s Middle Suburbs to address the region’s severe housing shortage and the need for more varied housing options for diverse households. The team introduces new city planning tools and architectural solutions that increase suburban density while simultaneously creating communal open spaces and essential services.

The jurors also awarded joint second place to the other finalists, Alternative Ways of Transportation, Bangkok, and The Healthy City, Oakland. A total of US$15,000 in prize money will be distributed among the finalist teams, and the winning teams will receive in-kind support from AECOM to implement a pilot of their proposal.

To read more about this year’s challenge and winners, and the key themes that emerged, download the hOUR City Final Report. 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.