Lily Smith

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The future of Australian city design looks to be in good hands, with passionate and creative Year 12 student Lily Smith making great strides in understanding and developing sustainable ideas for urban planning. Lily studied and was a high achiever in both Design and Technology and Visual Arts at St Joseph’s Regional College and was recently invited to speak at the International Urban Design Conference in Sydney …

Hi Lily. Please tell us a little about yourself and your interests.

I am a 17-year-old student, having just completed my Year 12 HSC. I have a keen eye for design and a great passion and interest in sustainability in urban design and architecture.

What subjects did you study for your HSC at St Joseph’s Regional College?

During the course of my HSC studies at St Joseph’s Regional College, I studied Design and Technology, Visual Arts, Italian, English Advanced and Studies of Religion. Without a doubt, the subjects I enjoyed the most were Design and Technology and Visual Arts, and I consequently ranked first in both, as I have a creative intellect and enjoy the challenge of practical, hands-on subjects. 

For Design and Technology, I designed and created a satellite city design for regional NSW, which was the project I presented at the International Urban Design conference.

How did you develop an interest in urban planning/city design?

It was ultimately through the development of this project that established my interest in urban planning and city design. Previous to undertaking this project, I had a strong passion for design and architecture, but urban design wasn’t an area I had ever explored before. 

Growing up, I was an avid lover of city models and architectural scale models. I’ve also grown up very familiar with our Australian cities, and further, have had the opportunity to visit cities all over the world in Europe, Africa and America. Having visited both Sydney and Melbourne countless times over my youth, I have witnessed the rapid change and development that has occurred in our cities over the past decade. 

Since completion of this project, my interest in urban planning and city design has intensified, and I am fascinated by both the possibilities and power of urban design to transform and provide lasting solutions for our cities and improve citizens’ quality of life and happiness.

You were recently accorded a great honour, having been invited to speak at the International Urban Design Conference in Sydney during November. How did this come about, and what were your feelings when you found out about the invitation?

Initially I was only interested in attending the conference and hadn’t even thought about the possibility of presenting, so I had contacted the conference secretary asking whether I was eligible to attend the conference as a student. I briefly explained in my email about my Year 12 Design and Technology project as reasoning for why I would like to attend. 

I received an email back saying I was eligible to attend and asking if I would be interested in presenting my project at the conference, and, if so, could I please submit an abstract. 

After submitting my abstract, I was alerted of my acceptance into the programme and received my invitation to the conference. I was allocated a 20-minute time slot within the student stream of the programme, which included discussion time at the end.

What can you tell us about the conference itself, and the type of speakers it generally attracts?

The International Urban Design conference is an annual event that attracts design professionals to exchange ideas and experiences, to be creative and visionary and to contribute to redesigning our urban future. The conference programme showcases innovations in projects and research embracing and creating transformational change in urban environments. 

This year, the conference was held over two days (Monday 12th – Tuesday 13th Nov) at the SMC Conference and Function centre, Sydney.

Your talk at the conference was about satellite city design. Please explain this in a little more detail …

During my preliminary research, I stumbled across Melbourne-based, Australian private company, CLARA, who have a bold vision to design and develop eight new inland cities in NSW and Victoria, in conjunction with a High-Speed Rail network connecting each city between Sydney and Melbourne. I got in contact with CLARA and worked with them to design, completely from scratch, one of the cities proposed for regional NSW. 

Australia’s population is proposed to reach 41.5 million by 2061. It is therefore vital that we plan ahead to accommodate this anticipated growth, considering our current cities already suffer from the effects of congestion, unaffordable housing and lengthy commutes. 

The basis of this project was to design and create an innovative and sustainable concept city design in regional NSW, to decentralise our society, responding to the growing population crisis in Australia, that incorporates emerging and renewable technologies that will also help pave the way for a sustainable future for the city. 

My project was highly regarded by CLARA, who are in the process of master planning a new SMART sustainable greenfield city in Victoria, for which my ideas and approach are at a level to contribute to their internal discussions.

What was it like, presenting your topic before an audience in the SMC Conference Centre? How did you handle the nerves?

Presenting my project before an audience at the SMC Conference Centre was an amazing experience and opportunity. I have had prior experience in public speaking, which allowed me to combat my nerves. This, in combination with my confidence and passion for the project, enabled me to present my project in a fluent and professional manner.

What are your goals/dreams for when you finish school?

In 2019, I intend to study a Bachelor of Design at the University of Melbourne, majoring in architecture and urban planning. I also plan on staying in contact with CLARA and continuing to work with them on their revolutionary cities plan for Australia’s future. 

Attending this conference has given me a wealth of knowledge for my studies next year, as the information presented at the conference is the latest research in urban design. 

After completing my bachelor studies, I plan to go on to study both my Masters in Architecture and Urban Design. I have gained professional contacts from the conference, who will be valuable assets in guiding me to achieve my future aspirations.

Thanks Lily.

Interview: Jo Robinson.

Photo (right) courtesy of Phil Pares.

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