On Wednesday 13 October, Hilson Moran’s Hackathon series made a long-awaited return, as we welcomed architects, planners, developers and consultants to our NEO office in Manchester, competing to imagine a bold new sustainable future for the city.
This time the challenge posed by Chris Birch, Director in Hilson Moran’s Infrastructure and Environment team, was around innovation for Net Positive Places. Chris asked teams to “derive a set of realistic initiatives to put Manchester on track for a more sustainable future in the next 15 years”.
Four teams would be working against the clock (with an important break for pizza and refreshments) to impress our three industry judges: Donna Barber from Eden Planning & Development, Marcel Ridyard from AFL Architects and David Laws from Fisher German.
Team Red lead the presentations with their proposal to bring agriculture back to cities. Titled ‘Food Forest’, this scalable solution aimed to put residents in touch with food production and nature, through local hubs spread across greater Manchester. Through a combination of repurposing and new developments, the concept would transform the city, providing designated community and green spaces. The concept also incorporated social initiatives to promote behavioural change, putting local communities in touch with food production at a micro scale.
Team Yellow were next to brave our judges, with their ambition to ‘Bring the Bees Back’ to Manchester. Their concept aimed to revolutionise transport and connectivity in the city, with ambitious pedestrian and public transport improvements to unlock walkable and cyclable communities. With a focus on increasing cyclability – including finally allowing bikes on trams – Team Yellow’s vision for Manchester would have a dramatic impact on traffic in the city. The team suggested removing significant quantities of traffic from the city, freeing up space for families to enjoy a quieter, cleaner and more sustainable live, work and play city environment.
Team Blue’s approach focused on three levels of development, from Hive to Honeycomb to Worker Bee. By taking this holistic Macro to Micro approach, they were able to propose improvements for both individuals and communities. Their Worker Bee level focused on a novel Office AirBnB concept, allowing workers to make use of unused office space across the city. The team even suggested this could be tied into a point system, unlocked by performing carbon and environmentally positive actions, such as cycling or using public transport.
Finally, Team Green ended the night with a community driven proposal, designed to create smaller, self-sufficient areas across the city. Focusing on key improvements to mental wellbeing, their proposal introduced green routes and suburban connections, driverless trains alongside financial and government incentives to drive realistic change.
After a series of tough questions and careful deliberation from the judges, Team Yellow emerged victorious, with their vision for the city winning them a small token of our appreciation.
Thank you to our judges and all who took part. If you are interested in joining a Hilson Moran Hackathon in the future, please email [email protected] for more info.