Engage. Ideate. Prototype.
These are three stages involved in ‘Design Thinking’, a problem-solving approach specific to design that involves developing a deep understanding of the people for whom products or infrastructure is being designed for. These stages do not have to be followed in a sequential order. In fact, they can often occur in parallel and can even be repeated several times over throughout the duration of a project.
These stages are at the core of all design and technology classes held at St Paul’s School in north Brisbane, where students are encouraged to develop real world solutions in a collaborative, hands-on way. It involves challenging assumptions and re-defining problems in a human-centric way in an attempt to identify alternative solutions that might not be obvious through an initial level of understanding. Students must embrace experimentation and failure in order to move forward and take innovation to the next level.
The concept of failing in order to innovate and progress is not something you would expect to find in a corporate setting, but for the last three years, Brisbane Airport Corporation has partnered with St Paul’s School to host a two-day design symposium that does just that. Steve Grant, Master Plan Program Manager, and Matthew Shinkel, Aviation Infrastructure Development Manager, offered their expertise alongside other industry experts and St Paul’s Design Teachers, Justin Hill and Tim Osborne, encouraging the students to seek advice and collaborate with them throughout the design process.
In its first year, the cohort of Year Three students were asked to imagine what the air travel experience of the future would look like. The students worked in small groups to design Brisbane Airport 2028, tackling different facets of the airport environment including improved infrastructure, aircraft, entertainment, security, baggage handling and catering. The students were encouraged to place the end users’ needs and experience at the heart of the design process to deliver a greater design outcome.
Last year, students were asked to design and prototype transport systems to, from and around the Brisbane Airport precinct of 2028. From hover-craft wheelchairs to zip-lines that connect different parts of the airport, there were no limits to the imagination and ingenuity of the children’s minds.
This year was all about the Brisbane Airport Master Plan 2040, and the results were just as inspiring and forward-thinking. The kids prototyped a mass transit system to distribute everything from shopping, cargo and fuel around the airport, a wind farm at the bay to charge batteries used across the precinct, and a remote facility for driverless cars which was connected seamlessly for easy access for passengers, visitors and workers.
The Design Symposium was expanded this year to include students from four other schools in the local area – Morningside State School, Coorparoo State School, Kelvin Grove State School and Our Lady of the Way, Petrie.
Steve Grant said the kids bring their own experience of airports and air travel coupled with insights from friends and family and then ideate how airports might develop over the next 20 years.
“These workshops are important to BAC as it gives us the opportunity to see our future airport through the eyes of our next generation of travellers and stakeholders.
“The kids always amaze me as they offer a completely different perspective and really embrace the collaborative and human-centric approach,” Steve Grant said.
“These 8-year-old’s are able to let their imagination influence their ideas. These fresh ideas could be the next level of innovation that Brisbane Airport needs in preparing for 2040,” Justin Hill said.
Engage. Ideate. Prototype.
These are the three stages that could very well enable BAC to build and evolve an innovative airport of the future that inherently understands and delivers the needs of its passengers.
Feature image: Watching over construction of BNE 2040 prototype | St Paul's School, Bald Hills