Grace and Mia pictured at a High School project judging event

Two Ventia employees in our Transport business had the task of helping judge the creation of future cities by a group of Year 10 geography students at St Ives High School, in Sydney's north.

Grace and Mia (pictured above) are part of the contract team which maintains the Sydney South road network for Transport for NSW under the Stewardship Maintenance Contract. They joined guest judges from Ku-ring-gai Council and Macquarie University on the panel, and say they were really pleased to be able to participate in this activity.

The students were given the brief of creating model cities that are based on best practice liveability and sustainability, under the heading of "Future Favela or Potential Paradise". The benefit of bringing in 'real-world' judges like VBA's environmental advisor Grace Corrigan and undergraduate engineer Mia Kornfeld is in exposing the students to the expectations and feedback from leading organisations.

Project judging day at St Ives High School

Grace says that the students created their cities after investigating the nature of urbanisation along with sustainability and liveability.

"Our feedback was based on our training and workplace experience," Grace says. "Working on infrastructure projects in Sydney's South over the past few years has given me insight into how important it is that the communities we live in are fit-for-purpose but can also adapt to changing needs over time."

Grace says the presentations showed a high level of thought and consideration of these concepts with some well-researched and innovative ideas. Both had a great time interacting with the students and found it quite difficult to choose their favourite city.

Planning cities projects

The students' visions varied, with some focused on creating open space and including as much of the natural environment as possible. Others were keen to maximise space and veered toward higher density living. 

Mia says they had some elements in common such as connectivity, mixed housing types, varied public transport options and use of renewable energy and rooftop gardens/green space.

"You could see they envisage a future where communities want to be able to connect," she says.

Their suggestions of sustainable practices have inspired me to carry that through for future infrastructure projects I am working on.

Head teacher HSIE (Human Society and its Environment) Maria Miller says it was important for the students to get feedback on how realistic their visions were. 

"Mia and Grace were brilliant," Maria says.

The feedback they gave to students and the encouragement and engagement they showed was well-received.

"The students enjoyed having real-world experts discuss their cities with them, and I feel like it added extra incentive for them to do well."

They hope to head back in September for the judging of the second group of students.

Planning cities projects