Manchester schoolboy wins national competition to design future city with hi-tech transport

The eco-conscious youngster wowed the judges with his ideas for a high-tech yet green urban future.

A Manchester schoolboy has scooped top prize in a national competition to imagine the city of the future.

Eco-conscious Bally Songthaveephol, nine, won the contest which asked children to come up with a sustainable vision for what urban areas might look like in decades to come.

Bally gave prominent roles to technology in his winning design and said sci-fi films had given him some of his ideas for creating a greener tomorrow.

What was the competition Bally won?

The competition invited schoolchildren across the UK to design a next-generation city that is sustainable, green powered, high-tech and fun to live in.

National Geographic Kids UK then teamed up with scientists from Covestro, a supplier of polymers, to pick the winner.

What was Bally’s winning design?

The judges were particularly impressed by Bally’s ideas for futuristic transport systems.

It included the use of hyperloop technology, which is a sealed system of tubes through which a pod travels without air resistance or friction, to get around.

Bally Songthaveephol, nine, who won a national competition about sustainable cities

Bally said his city would also have lots of parks and nature attractions, with leisure activities such as shopping, going to the cinema and going out for something to eat or drink largely taking place in the sky in tall tower blocks.

His design also included lots of use of virtual reality (VR) technology to keep people connected in communities, interactive robots and clever virtual gadgetry.

Bally said the silver screen was one of his inspirations when thinking about a greener future.

The St Bede’s Prep School pupil said: “I love drawing and I got inspirations of the futuristic technologies in my drawing from movies, such as Marvel Avengers and Men in Black.

“I care about the environment and it would be good if we can reduce pollution and stop global warming.”

He won £200 to spend at an online store which sells eco-friendly toys and clothes as well as a lab coat and goggles.

What did the judges say?

The judges said it was extremely tough due to the high standard of ideas the youngsters had eagerly come up with, but Bally’s design stood out in a crowded field.

Rachel Owen, head of Alliance and strategic partnership communications for the EMLA region at Covestro, said: “This competition was extremely tough, but also highly enjoyable, to judge.

“In the entries, I particularly loved the combination of serious environmental concepts with playful ideas to inject fun into cities and people’s daily lives.

“Bally’s entry stood out for its range of technology, from an ambitious ‘hyperloop’ transport system made of tubes, to the more recognisable tech of virtual reality headsets - something we can buy on the shelves today.”

“We received lots of impressive entries for this competition, with a huge range of ideas: everything from ice-cream vans driven by robots, to complex bio-dome farming systems,” added Peter Johnson, the managing director of Creature Media, the licensee for National Geographic Kids UK.