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Flying Ubers a vision of Lendlease Bradfield scholarship winner

20 October 2016
First year architecture student Kate Zambelli wins 2016 scholarship.

At the Future Transport Summit 2016 in Sydney earlier this year Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak said 'self‐driving Ubers are the future'. "But what if Ubers are in the air and not on the street?” proclaims architecture student Kate Zambelli.

Dr Michael Spence, Vice Chancellor of the University of Sydney (left) and Steve McCann, Managing Director and CEO of Lendlease (right) with Kate Zambelli, 2016 Lendlease Bradfield Urbanisation Scholarship recipient (centre).

Dr Michael Spence, Vice Chancellor of the University of Sydney (left) and Steve McCann, Managing Director and CEO of Lendlease (right) with Kate Zambelli, 2016 Lendlease Bradfield Urbanisation Scholarship recipient (centre).

It was, in part, this idea that earned the University of Sydney student the 2016 Lendlease Bradfield Urbanisation Scholarship that was announced last night at the Bradfield Oration attended by the NSW Premier Mike Baird and 200 distinguished guests of Sydney’s business community.

The 18-year-old who is in her first year of a Bachelor of Architecture and Environments, was one of seven student finalists chosen by the judging panel for her vision to make Sydney a first-tier city.

Central to Kate’s idea are Transport Orientated Developments or TODs that she believes will provide quicker and safer transport around the city. Her TOD concept incorporates affordable housing, vertical farms, solar windows and autonomous drone stations. Kate envisages multiple TODs built to improve connectivity across the city.

Kate Zambelli - 2016 Lendlease Bradfield Scholarship winner.

First-year Bachelor of Architecture and Environments student, Kate Zambelli discusses her winning idea for 'Project Sydney'.

Dr Adrienne Keane, a lecturer in urban planning at the University, and one of the seven scholarship judges, says the panel was particularly excited by Kate’s novel idea and the way she approached the challenge. “The multiple factors of living, working and transport integrated into Kate’s TOD concept were really appealing, and the vision of autonomous hover drones was particularly exciting,” said Dr Keane.

Kate’s idea is driven by a need she sees to make Sydney more productive, livable and sustainable. “A long-term challenge for Sydney is housing affordability and improving the connections to workplaces. If affordable housing is too far from work this only results in poor productivity and livability,” said Kate Zambelli.

Recognising that Sydney transport is under increasing pressure from the growing number of cars and buses, Kate believes there could be a different approach to conventional road transport to overcome the problem.

“Imagine if a Chatswood TOD, for example, was transformed to accommodate autonomous hover drones. The drones would collect people from a “drone stop’ like a bus stop within 200m of their home, and transport them by air to a vertical drone terminal next to the rail station. It would be like an Uber service organised via a smartphone.

“The drones could have an infinite number of ways to transport people safely to a TOD, making travel more time efficient and safe whilst reducing emissions,” she said.

While autonomous hover drones are already being trialed in Dubai and China, Kate sees drones running on electrical energy produced by new renewable energy sources generated by the TOD’s solar windows. The use of newly-developed solar glass windows would also be built into the TOD to make the building more self‐sufficient and to act as a significant energy source for the city.

Six other finalists competing for this year’s scholarship were architecture students Nikita Chaudhary and Chloe-Henry Jones, and engineering students Hillary Pan, Rory Green, Linhao Li and Edward Fay.

Steve McCann, Managing Director and CEO of Lendlease, and one of the judges, says the scholarship is about finding the next John Bradfield and nurturing Sydney visionaries who aspire to shape the city’s future.

Now in its second year, the scholarship was set up by the University of Sydney and Lendlease in recognition of the celebrated engineer and alumnus of the University. It was John Bradfield’s grand vision that drove two of Sydney's most transformative projects - the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the city's underground railway system.

The scholarship is awarded annually to a University of Sydney undergraduate student studying urban planning, architecture, engineering, business or arts and social sciences. The recipient receives $10,000 per year for the duration of their degree up to honours level, in addition to an internship at Lendlease.