TAKE a seat on a park bench to recharge, enjoy greenery without cars and then hop into an automated shuttle bus that’s been charging under a street light.
This is how we could live in the Australian cities of 2037, as imagined by the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) at their The Future Street installation in Sydney.
The display showed off some of the most cutting-edge technology that has the potential to transform our streetscapes.
And while park benches don’t exactly sound hi-tech, Street Furniture Australia showed how a humble chair could change the way people use public places.
The company showed a park bench prototype* with electricity and USB outlets so people can charge their devices while out and about.
Industrial design engineer Shreyasi Mukerji said the company hoped to launch the product next year.
“You’ve got a surface to work on if you’re using a laptop and we wanted it to have a couch feel rather than a bench feel.”
Driverless shuttle buses are also on the cards for Australia’s future, and some are already here.
The EZ10 driverless electric shuttle is already driving around Darwin and can transport up to 12 people (six seated and six standing).
It has no steering wheel, technically, no front or back and can travel up to 40km/h.
EasyMile sales manager Alexandre Pequignot said it operated on open roads in Darwin.
“If the train station is too far way (to walk) people tend to drive instead and they tend to drive all the way to the office, which causes congestion and demand for parking,” he said.
“It’s a shared and smart mobility* solution.”
Another future tech already popping up around Australia is the ENE Hub light.
The street lights can be modified to act as charging stations for electric vehicles, can have power outlets, an emergency help button, USB chargers, traffic lights, banners, speakers for music or announcements, Wi-Fi, internet, CCTV and even hanging flower baskets.
One of the other features of the installation was envisioning how the urban landscape could look if it was designed for people in mind, not cars.
“A good street is a place that prioritises people over cars and this is part of what The Future Street highlights,” Place Design Group executive director Chris Isles said.
The Australian Institute of Landscape Architects showcased three alternative visions for the future: a “Green Street”, a “Complete Street” and a “Smart Street”.
The aim for all three streets is to integrate green interactive spaces with technology and make the streets a destination worth visiting — not just a thoroughfare* that people pass through on their way to work or their next appointment.
The Green Street section showed what a landscape could look like if car access was removed, people were prioritised, there was cycling and public transport, and nature was reintroduced.
It’s essentially about healthy living and plenty of soft grass and trees.
The Complete Street illustrated what a street could look like if cities balanced the importance of people and cars, it slows the car down, features vertical gardens and recycled materials. It’s about creating an enjoyable lifestyle.
The Smart Street section showcased all technology has to offer. ENE Hub lights, an electric Tesla car, hi-tech park benches as well as rubbish bins that can communicate when they’re full.
“This is a glimpse* into what our streets could become, and how we could interact with our built environment in a more productive way,” AILA chief executive officer Tim Arnold said.
prototype: product early in design process
thoroughfare: place people walk through rather than stop at
glimpse: short look
LISTEN TO TODAY’S STORY
Activity 1. A smart idea?
• How do you think the new ideas would improve people’s lives?
• What are some problems that you believe could arise if the ideas are implemented?
• Which of the ideas do you think is the best and why?
• Describe something that could be added to the ideas presented, that you believe would improve our streets and explain the benefits.
Write a short imaginative text describing a visit to a street of the future.
Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Critical and Creative Thinking
Activity 2. Make a map
Mark your own grid references on a sheet of grid paper.
Then create a map of a future street based on the information in the article.
Make a list of five features of your map, stating the grid reference of each item.
Write a set of directions for a trip around your map.
For example: Begin at B5 and travel three spaces north, then turn right and travel four spaces.
Swap maps with a partner and have a go at following their directions.
Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: Mathematics
(Vocabulary, Connectives, Openers, Punctuation)
Scour the article for any words that could be a homophone.
A homophone is when each of two or more words have the same pronunciation but different meanings, origins, or spelling.
Example: New, knew
How many did you find?
Write a list of words that are homophones.
Use a dictionary the internet if you need some help.
Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Big Write, VCOP
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