RMIT’s Urban Futures competition has showcased Victorian high school students’ best and brightest ideas to improve the liveability and sustainability of cities.
The competition, which encouraged entrants to identify, communicate and propose solutions to urban issues, has recognised four winning students.
Declan Martin of De La Salle College in Malvern was awarded first prize for his examination of the negative impact vast car parks at regional train stations have on sustainability.
His investigation found that car parks at stations exacerbate congestion on local roads and fail to capitalise on the potential of centrally located land to be used for civic purposes.
Martin’s proposed solution, which won him the $500 prize money, included improved feeder bus services and bike paths to encourage more sustainable mixed-mode travel.
Second place and $300 went to Geelong College’s Tyler McHarry for his entry considering the impact of large commercial retail centres on traditional shopping precincts, using the decline of Geelong’s central retail district as an example.
With 87 vacant shops in the Geelong CBD, Tyler identified a range of potential solutions, including better public housing and improved recreational facilities to revitalise the traditional commercial district.
Stephanie Daborn of Luther College and Clarence Wei of Eltham College won third and fourth prize, respectively, for their ideas to solve population growth and access to natural light in large cities.
Dr Joe Hurley, Program Manager of the Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning (Honours), paid tribute to the winning entrants and said the competition provides high school students the opportunity to engage with high-level urban sustainability solutions.
“The exciting thing about the winning entries in 2016 is the complexity of the problems students are now tackling in this competition,” Hurley said.
“For example, the winning entry focused of the importance of integrated sustainable transport options – mixing rail, bus, cycling and walking – to move beyond park and ride at suburban train stations.
"The competition plays an important role linking school students and teachers, particularly of Geography, to career opportunities that will make a difference to the sustainability of our cities.”
Supported by Villawood Properties; the Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning, Planning Institute of Australia; and the Geography Teachers Association of Victoria, the competition is open to all Victorian secondary school students in years 10 to 12.
Story: Bradley Dixon