24 March saw one of the biggest design challenges of its kind in the UK, calling upon property industry experts to guide students through a complex design process, before judging their ideas.

Hosted by the Urban Land Institute (ULI), the UrbanPlan workshop is a school-based initiative that challenges students to think about the fundamental forces that affect urban regeneration. The workshops take place all over the world, but the largest in the UK so far has catered for 30 students. For the first time, the workshop was opened up to over 240 students, involving the help of 50 industry volunteers to ensure the day ran smoothly and efficiently. Within these volunteers include our own CSR and Early Careers Manager, Vicki Palmer, and Assistant, Amy Pearson.

Amy shares the excitement and rewarding nature of volunteering with UrbanPlan. “I was excited to give back to the community we work in and show students the variety of roles available in the built environment. It doesn’t matter if you have been in the industry for 20 years or a few months; everyone was just keen to learn about the roles available and the routes to join. It was great to share our knowledge and see the students really throw themselves into the project”

Students were split into groups before starting on their challenge of redeveloping a blighted site in a hypothetical town. The teams had to overcome a series of design challenges – including economic, social, political, and environmental issues – to build a financially viable scheme comprising commercial and residential buildings and spaces. Once designed, the students had to pitch their ideas to the industry experts to be in with a chance of going through to the final.

Those four teams selected as finalists were called to present again to three main judges – Francois Trausch Global CEO Allianz; Lisette Van Doorn, Chief Executive of ULI Europe and Annette Simpson, Director of Development Partnerships at Legal and General and Chair of ULI UK – while their fellow students and volunteers watched on.

There were some brilliant ideas presented, demonstrating how the younger generation really are the future. Vicki explains how important school-based initiatives are in supporting the next generation into the real estate industry. “Workshops are great for students as it gives them first-hand involvement in real life real estate projects. Many students aren’t aware of the industry beforehand or the roles available, so it is really eye opening for them.”

We are excited to take part in the next workshop and are actively encouraging employees across the business, in all services and regions, to get involved. Well done to all the students involved in the day, and a special congratulations to winning team ‘Almustrati & Co.’

Vicki Palmer

Senior Corporate Social Responsibility & Early Careers Manager

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