Finalists in Cities for our Future competition revealed; World’s young people design the cities of the future

The 12 best ideas from all over the world have been shortlisted for the Cities for our Future competition run by RICS (the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) in partnership with the United Kingdom National Commission for UNESCO and the Association of Commonwealth Universities.

The competition set students and young professionals the challenge of coming up with ideas to tackle the most pressing challenges facing the world’s rapidly expanding cities. Entrants were asked to submit ideas on three overarching issues facing cities around the world – urbanisation, climate change and resource scarcity. The shortlist includes inventive and practical ways to tackle huge global issues including homelessness, air pollution and urbanisation.

The 1,200 entries were assessed by expert panels of judges from across the world who narrowed it down to the final 12.

The next step in the Cities for our Future competition will see each of the 12 finalists given a RICS mentor to help them develop their concepts into a viable project in advance of the final judging in November.

Sean Tompkins, RICS Global CEO said: “Our aim with the Cities for our Future competition was to harness the ideas of our diverse and talented young people to help solve the challenges of the cities they care about and make them better for generations to come. We hope that the leaders of the world’s cities are listening and will work with us and all of our shortlisted entries to make these ideas a reality and help tackle some of the most pressing issues facing their cities.”

The final RICS shortlist:

  1. Cheyenne Lau from the United States: Cheyenne has proposed a scheme to help regenerate Coney Island, New York and at the same time help prevent flooding. With rising sea levels, Coney Island and other large areas of New York will become increasingly susceptible to flooding. Cheyenne’s Canal City plan is a comprehensive redesign of the urban area, creating a series of canals that would regulate water flow through the city. As well as alleviating flooding, the canals would regenerate the area, with water flowing into central water plazas, providing flexible event spaces and housing programs.
  2. Claudio Freitas from the United States: Claudio Freitas has put forward an Internet of Things (IOT) Water Control Management system. Through a mobile-web based system, the IoT-based monitoring system delivers real-time information on water access and quality. It can also point out the origin of the toxins that are affecting the water quality and can be installed on water tanks to yield data on water consumption. Whilst the idea was created to provide a solution in a refugee camp, the technology would work just as well in urban areas that lack a proper infrastructure, such as favelas, or in major cities trying to reduce their water consumption.
  3. Earl Patrick Forlales from the Philippines: The high numbers of people moving to Manila in search of job opportunities is causing overcrowding in a city that is already suffering from a housing crisis, forcing many to live in illegal settlements and slums. The proposed solution, CUBO, is a low-cost, modular and expandable house, made of local bamboo. CUBO is a 3 by 4 metre house, composed of a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and dining-living room. Made from bamboo, an abundant material that has strength capabilities similar to steel and costs only £2 a pole, the structure is low-cost and durable. Deploying CUBO houses will provide more affordable housing and by building them near to areas where are employment opportunities could also provide easier access to jobs.
  4. Heat Island Limited, a multidisciplinary design team from the UK: 3D printed insulation panels would improve liveability and reduce energy consumption in African cities, according to Heat Island Limited. The team from the UK propose creating a flexible and inhabitable ‘wrapper’ called “Evaporos” around the existing façade of buildings to passively cool the structure using radiant cooling of the existing concrete frame during the night, and evaporative cooling of the interior during the day. The system uses moveable 3D printed porous ceramic panels to enable the facade-wrapper to ‘close down’ during the heat of the day, and to open up fully at night.
  5. James Browning from New Zealand: James has proposed a system to improve access to resources in the slums of Caracas. The idea begins with the construction of small towers that harvest rainwater and generate power. The water and power generated can go on to cultivate arable farming and street lighting. Following this, households will be able to connect directly to the system supplying water and electricity throughout the community. This basic infrastructure system will then allow Caracas, and similarly underdeveloped cities, to further develop.
  6. Katia Sqir from Syria: To combat air-pollution in Beijing, Katia has proposed an approach to urban planning that imitates nature. Katia’s vision is divided into two stages; the first improves air quality in existing urban areas with a spider-web-like network of plants, hanging between buildings and homes. The second element to Katia’s idea looks at building future homes with more green space in mind.
  7. Megan Burke from Ireland: Megan’s idea is to use a discount on commercial business rates to incentivise businesses to install towers on top of London buildings to purify the city’s air. The air purification towers are already in use in The Netherlands and Megan asserts that landlords would be prepared to bear the financial burden of erecting the towers because of the discounts their tenants would get in terms of the improved environment and rates rebates.
  8. Pamela Larocca from Italy: Pamela has proposed a radical design for new housing, called Ecof(I)ood, to combat rising sea levels around coastal cities. The house is specifically designed for regions at threat from rising sea levels with a range of features including submerged zones and aeroponic zones for growing vegetables. The scheme aims to develop initial prototypes using shipping containers to ensure that it is sustainable from the outset. The submerged parts of the housing would be contained in a watertight shell and include an algae culture room that would generate power for the home.
  9. Tijmen Dekkers from The Netherlands: To improve access to clean water Tijmen has proposed the development of the Delta X – a construction that captures and filters rainwater and is extremely strong, yet cheap and easy to build. The Delta X is made from aluminium, can be designed in any length, depth and width and can be erected in just one day. It uses a hydraulic system to pump and filter water and a digital monitoring system to measure the quantity and purity of the water.
  10. Sayali Virulkar from India: Sayali has proposed an inversion of the traditional agricultural-urban co-habitation pattern in Delhi, by creating Urban Farms. Sayali’s idea challenges the current model which exists in cities all around the world and would move agriculture from the periphery into the centre of cities, therefore making food production less energy intensive. Urban farms model could also boost the economy, as farmland becomes more integrated with modern life, making it easier for farmers to take their product to market. Most importantly, with better access to open space and nutritious fresh food, the health of people in urban areas would significantly improve.
  11. Soran and Saman Shangapur from Iran: To address homeless in Glasgow, Soran and Saman’s idea would see car parks in city centres converted into overnight homeless shelters. They assert that car parks in city centres are ideal places to provide shelter for homeless people because they are usually empty overnight; they can be easily converted into secure accommodation near to places of work. The proposal also involves providing homeless people with a portable closet in which they can store personal effects that can be shipped to the location where they will be sleeping on a given night.
  12. Yicheng Xu from the United States: Yicheng has devised a new water infrastructure system – entitled ‘Watershared’ – to improve the water supply in Amman, Jordan. Watershared identifies four existing urban elements – disordered water tanks, exposed pipes, dilapidated stairs and abandoned houses – to create a new Jordanian water system. By elevating the currently scattered water tanks into a ‘lift-up’ platform, creating rainwater holding spaces in place of disused stairs, turning abandoned housing into greywater stations and connecting rooftops to these spaces with water pipes, the basic water infrastructure can be dramatically improved.