PRESS RELEASE 17 Oct 2016
Pöyry supports children’s projects to design the city of tomorrow
June saw the grand opening of a rather unique project – a hanging garden was opened in an elementary school in Vienna, Austria. But why were these gardens so special? They were one of the solutions for the city of tomorrow designed by a class of eight year-old children who had participated in the “Young Visions Award”, a competition initiated by Dr Wolfgang Popischil, Head of Pöyry Management Consulting in Austria.
This initiative, run in conjunction with the Austrian tech-news site Futurezone, challenged children in schools around Vienna to design concepts for innovative solutions to problems in today’s cities. Their solutions far exceeded the jury’s expectations, including computer systems to handle the traffic on streets, portable sport stadiums and walls of houses to be used as cultivation areas.
Inspired by the children’s enthusiasm and dedication, Pöyry and Futurezone decided to work with the children to realise the idea of the hanging gardens. Together they worked to form a crowd-funding finance plan, find sponsors, navigate their way through the complicated system of municipal licences, and build the garden in the school yard. The campaign was soon supported by a number of local politicians and companies, including Zotter, a chocolate manufacturer who provided chocolate bars with packaging designed by the children that were used as rewards for donations.
At the beginning of the project, nobody expected it to have such a big impact on the children’s lives, or consequently the whole education system in Vienna. By integrating the hanging gardens project into different lessons, the teachers were able to connect subjects like mathematics (calculating surface area and volumes) and language (writing letters to politicians, sporting idols and many more), bringing learning to the children in an inspiring, real-life way.
Through the award every child was given access to a tablet computer, which enabled the children to learn about coding, use graphical software and use the internet for research – all aimed at encouraging digitalisation development and making them comfortable and confident using this technology to their advantage.
The children were able to complete all of the obligatory competencies of their school grade, and on top of this gained a set of skills and knowledge above that which would have been possible in the current curriculum for elementary schools in Austria. The next steps planned are to integrate hanging gardens into other schools in Vienna, and hopefully offer this kind of educational curriculum to as many children as possible.
Pöyry has benefitted from this experience too; building on its values of connectedness, sustainability, energy efficiency and digitalisation and showing how these values can be implemented in our modern world. The sustainable construction of the hanging gardens could even have a positive impact on Vienna’s CO2 emissions if they are carried out in large numbers, and even have the potential to be more energy efficient – for example by installing solar panels to produce energy. We even have our own small hanging garden in the office in Vienna now!