Innovative ways to tackle the urban housing crisis proposed by winning student teams in Urban SOS hOUR City competition

AECOM, Van Alen Institute and 100 Resilient Cities challenge multidisciplinary teams to redefine the “hour city” radius with infrastructure solutions that connect communities to opportunity

LOS ANGELES (Jan. 25, 2018) — AECOM, a premier, fully integrated global infrastructure firm, and Van Alen Institute, with 100 Resilient Cities — Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation, announced joint winners of the Urban SOS: hOUR City competition, which challenged student teams to work across disciplines to bridge the divide between thriving urban centers and struggling communities.

The winning teams, The Holding Project and New Suburban Living, 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 housing in the city center, 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; 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.

“Rapidly changing household dynamics and exponential population growth are challenging our cities to accelerate supply and diversify housing options. This year’s winning teams have proposed innovative solutions that have the power to spark new conversations around how we think about neighborhoods,” said AECOM Senior Vice President and Global Director of Cities Stephen Engblom.

“With global housing inequality reaching new highs, students in this year’s Urban SOS competition show how young people are eager to upset and rethink the systems that have historically held back housing development to connect more people to opportunity,” said Van Alen Executive Director David van der Leer.

“Housing affordability and availability is a crisis faced by scores of cities in our network, and is a challenge that is crying out for innovative, outside the box solutions,” said Michael Berkowitz, president of 100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation. “Engaging the next generation of technical visionaries is critical in solving this challenge, and it is inspiring to see how these young people are addressing this problem head on.”

Four finalist teams pitched their proposals to a jury of leading professionals from the design, government, business and media sectors at a live event in downtown Los Angeles on January 23. The jurors included:

  • Marissa Aho, chief resilience officer, city of Los Angeles
  • Frances Anderton, host, ‘DnA: Design & Architecture’, KCRW
  • Stephen Engblom, senior vice president and global director of cities, AECOM
  • Frederick Fisher, AIA FAAR, design principal and president, Frederick Fisher and Partners
  • Ian Gardner, president, Chanje
  • David van der Leer, executive director, Van Alen Institute
  • Minoli Ratnatunga, director, regional economics research, Milken Institute
  • Mimi Zeiger, Los Angeles-based critic, editor, curator and educator

AECOM’s Executive Vice President and Global Sports Leader Bill Hanway emceed the event.
The jury also awarded joint second place to the other finalist teams.

  • The Healthy City (Oakland, California, USA)
    Submitted by Vincent Clement Agoe, Derek Lazo, Serena Lousich, Sarah Skenazy and Mark Wessels, University of California, Berkeley
    The team’s project aims to connect communities suffering from high rates of chronic diseases to the physical spaces and resources of healthcare providers. The team establishes a series of “loops” that open healthcare campuses to local residents, and encourage people to seek out healthy food options, urban nature and active recreation.
  • Alternative Ways of Transportation (Bangkok, Thailand)
    Submitted by Perada Plitponkarnpim, Wilaiwan Prathumwong and Patcharida Sricome, King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi
    The team imagines a citywide multimodal path system alongside existing canals that could help alleviate the city’s traffic congestion and connect people in transportation deserts to transit options. The team proposes to redesign the path along Bang Mod canal on the city’s west side, introducing new lighting, bridges and public pavilions that provide spaces for local vendors. 

The distance traveled in one hour has historically defined the boundary of a city, the reach of its infrastructure and its exchanges with surrounding areas. However, globalization and geographic, social, and economic shifts demand that we consider new ways to connect people in suburban, rural and isolated urban communities to opportunity. hOUR City invited students to propose transportation, housing or economic development solutions that re-imagine this “hour city” boundary.

AECOM first launched the Urban SOS series in 2009 to address global urban challenges, and for the last three years has partnered with Van Alen Institute, a design nonprofit with a 120-plus-year history of organizing design competitions research and public programs.

Student teams from more than 30 countries worldwide submitted proposals. Submissions were reviewed by prestigious panels of global experts from the public and private sectors through juries held in Hong Kong, Sydney, New York and London, with the final jury held in Los Angeles.

AECOM is built to deliver a better world. We design, build, finance and operate infrastructure assets for governments, businesses and organizations in more than 150 countries. As a fully integrated firm, we connect knowledge and experience across our global network of experts to help clients solve their most complex challenges. From high-performance buildings and infrastructure, to resilient communities and environments, to stable and secure nations, our work is transformative, differentiated and vital. A Fortune 500 firm, AECOM had revenue of approximately $18.2 billion during fiscal year 2017. See how we deliver what others can only imagine at and @AECOM.
Facebook: /UrbanSOS
Twitter: @AECOMUrbanSOS

About Van Alen Institute
At Van Alen Institute, we believe design can transform cities, landscapes, and regions to improve people’s lives. We collaborate with communities, scholars, policymakers, and professionals on local and global initiatives that rigorously investigate the most pressing social, cultural, and ecological challenges of tomorrow. Building on more than a century of experience, we develop cross disciplinary research, provocative public programs and inventive design competitions.
Facebook: /vanaleninstitute
Twitter: @van_alen

About 100 Resilient Cities — Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation
100 Resilient Cities — Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation (100RC) helps cities around the world become more resilient to the physical, social, and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century. 100RC provides this assistance through: funding for a Chief Resilience Officer in each member city who will lead the resilience efforts; resources for drafting a resilience strategy; access to private sector, public sector, academic, and NGO resilience tools; and membership in a global network of peer cities to share best practices and challenges.
Twitter: @100ResCities


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