Urban SOS: hOUR City

hOUR City — the 2017 Urban SOS® student ideas competition presented by AECOM and Van Alen Institute with 100 Resilient Cities — challenged students to strengthen connections between cities and disconnected communities. The result? Bold, multidisciplinary solutions to tackle housing, transportation and economic development challenges, and re-imagine what an “hour city” boundary can be.

From transforming public libraries into teleworking hubs in Washington DC and creating mobile micro-housing units for homeless individuals in Singapore to connecting slum communities to their more affluent neighbors in Addis Ababa, read on to see what ideas have made the 2017 semi-final.


Housing Trail

Seoul, South Korea

In a mountainous district of small garment factories, this team envisions a housing complex intertwined with a road running through — connecting residents and workers to new public spaces and to the lowland wholesale market.

Team: Tsz Wing Yeung, Ng Tsz Wai Jason, University of Hong Kong.


Washington, DC, United States

Libraries are being forced to redefine their mission in a digital age. This team wants to repurpose underused library space to support co-working and entrepreneurial activity, ensuring they remain a key anchor in their communities.

Team: Ann Le, Angela DeGeorge, Melissa De La Cruz, The New School, Parsons.

Luminous Pockets in the Empty Capital

Lisbon, Portugal

This team creates a mobile canopy that can be easily assembled in public spaces citywide, functioning as a “cultural incubator” that brings refugees and established residents together for flea markets, food, music and other activities.

Team: Vardhan Mehta, Annette Veliz, Pratt Institute; Shaguni Gupta, Khalid Ayaz Khan, Fleur Bonkhoon, Syracuse University.



This team wants to offer homeless, unemployed people a “Bykvan,” — a scooter retrofitted with a kit containing a temporary housing unit, as well as an app to connect them to job opportunities.

Team: Debbie Goh, Singapore University of Technology and Design; Ang Leng Yuk, Lim Kai Ning, Erika Choong, Nanyang Technological University; Low Mei You, Singapore Management University.

The Healthy City

Oakland, United States

This team envisions healthier cities, aiming to connect communities suffering from high rates of chronic diseases to the spaces and resources of healthcare providers using traffic calming, recreation opportunities and new transit options.

Team: Vincent Clement Agoe, Derek Lazo, Serena Lousich, Mark Wessels, Sarah Skenazy, University of California, Berkeley.

New Suburban Living

Melbourne, Australia

In Melbourne’s “Middle Suburbs,” where the housing stock is predominantly single-family homes, this team proposes an incremental redevelopment plan that allows greater density; large, shared outdoor spaces; and more diverse housing choices.

Team: Lisa Anne Garner, Universität Der Künste; Lauren Garner, RMIT University.

White Collar Backpackers

Yiwu, China

For the growing population of professionals who commute weekly to satellite cities, this team proposes a new kind of extended-stay in hotels, allowing guests to personalize spaces and avoid having to rent expensive apartments.

Team: Ningxin Cheng, Harvard Graduate School of Design; Shengjun Luo, Fudan University; Jia Zhang, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.


The Holding Project

Belfast, Northern Ireland

Targeting young people aged 18-35, this team proposes a joint-housing and economic development plan that develops new micro-units on vacant city center land, and also sets aside 20 percent of a tenant’s rent as savings.

Team: Sean Cullen, Chris Millar, Queen’s University Belfast.

The Event Corridors

Toyama, Japan

To meet the needs of an aging population, the team re-imagines a “compact city” as one that densely develops homes, stores and services along public transit corridors, rather than in a single city center.

Team: Ka Wing Ho, Tak Hei Ivan Cheng, The University of Hong Kong; Mei Sin Bianca Wong, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Atlanta Absorb and Release

Atlanta, United States

This team proposes a new bus network that connects suburban communities with each other and the city center, along with solar panel canopies that define and cool new public spaces along the transit route.

Team: Anna Caledonia Morrison, Zazu Phillips Swistel, Henry Jerome Neuwirth, University of Virginia.

Alternative Way of Transportation

Bangkok, Thailand

Aiming to connect isolated residential communities to public transit, increase bike safety and reduce dependence on cars, this team proposes a new, formalized canal-side pathway for bikers and pedestrians along the Bangmod Canal.

Team: Wilaiwan Prathumwong, Perada Plitponkarnpim, Patcharida Sricome, King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi.

UR Connect

New York City, United States

Establishing local co-operatives that bring high-speed internet networks and a physical hub to underserved urban and rural communities, UR Connect — or Urban Rural Connections — aims to expand social and economic opportunities for local residents.

Team: Michaela Kramer, The New School — Concordia University; Leonore Snoek, The New School — University of Amsterdam; Jakob Winkler, The New School — University of Vienna.

Social Transit Oriented Development

Jakarta, Indonesia

In an outlying social housing district, this team envisions an integrated bike- and bus-based public transit system and community center that makes it easier for displaced residents to get to regional employment clusters.

Team: Hanang Pandu Himawan, Fakhrisya Ayutia Zahra, Laras Ayu Sekartaji, Ferry Fernando, Institut Teknologi Bandung; Muhammad Aditya Padmanaba, Universitas Indonesia.


London, England

Tapping into existing government initiatives to end homelessness, the team proposes an initiative to reclaim abandoned industrial buildings for use as integrated hubs for housing, job training and social service programs for homeless people.

Team: Hui Min Foo, Heng Xuan Teo, University of Cambridge; Yiming Gong, Crystal Chang Xuan Li, Nanyang Technological University.

Strategies for Central Living

Pune, India

This team re-imagines India’s “railway colonies” — low-density employee housing built by the national rail company, typically located on public land near train stations in city centers — as sites for high-density co-housing to accommodate population growth.

Team: Swapnil Rohidas Kangankar, Amar Suhas Kulkarni, Samuel Dordowa Benya Senesie, Avinash Hari Dass, Technical University of Berlin.


Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Focusing on informal settlements, the team proposes establishing a collective that pools building materials from local residents, and financial contributions from more affluent residents in surrounding neighborhoods, to construct new housing and public buildings.

Team: Lelissa Erkissa Kasim, Mikyas Tekle Hagos, Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction and City Development; Simon Mucheye Asradew, Addis Ababa University.