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UC student’s ‘smart work’ nets planning prize

Marcus Butler

22 November 2016

A University of Canberra urban planning student has taken out the one of the ACT’s top awards from the Planning Institute Australia (PIA) for his work on ‘smart work hubs’.

Fourth year student Peter Hanna received the Outstanding Tertiary Student Project Award for his work Blurred Walls – Teleworks in Australia at the 2016 PIA awards ceremony held last month.

Mr Hanna said the project examines employment and lifestyle flexibility in an age of technological advancement.

“I’ve been looking at how Australian businesses and other digitally-enabled organisations can allow their employees to engage in work-related activity outside of the office space,” Mr Hanna said.

“The growth of what’s being called 'smart hubs' may eventually see people from completely different industries and employers occupying a convenient shared space to do their work.”

Mr Hanna’s project illustrates the benefits teleworking has on the environment and the positive impact it can bring to public transport usage rates and improved physical activity.

“The growth of teleworking will mean the decentralisation of established city centres, and will add much needed economic and social outputs to local centres and regional areas that have been in decline for many years now,” he added.

“It is going to hinge on Australian Government policies towards this kind of work and will need considerable intergovernmental collaboration among different jurisdictions, so there’s a long way to go, but the reasons to begin moving toward this type of workplace are very real.”

Mr Hanna wasn’t the only University of Canberra student to receive accolades on the night, with post-graduate student Gonpo Tenzin also receiving a commendation for his project which compared Bhutan’s widely known, gross national happiness index and quality of life indicators used in Australia.

Mr Hanna will now attend the National Awards for Planning Excellence in Sydney in May next year.

Meanwhile, University of Canberra research fellow in built environment and design Hamish Sinclair has been recognised for his outstanding service to planning, by being made a fellow of the PIA.

Mr Sinclair has previously held positions as ACT President and the National Director of PIA and has worked in the planning field for more than 20 years in Australia and New Zealand.

His work at the University was also recognised where he lectures in planning and engages students in tactical urban planning exercises.