ChillOUT Hub, a smart open-air community space driven by a collaboration between UNSW, Street Furniture Australia, Georges River Council and University of Sydney, has won a National Award for Best Planning Ideas – Small Project from the PIA (Planning Institute of Australia), the national body representing planning and the planning profession in Australia.

The project - ChillOUT Hubs: Smart Social Spaces Creating Connected Green Places – was recognised as an ‘outstanding planning idea’ by the PIA awards jury.

Offering shelter, furniture, greenery, public Wi-Fi and power for devices, ChillOUT Hub prototypes were installed in 2020 at three sites in the Georges River Council area including a busy streetscape in Kogarah, the town centre in Mortdale, and a suburban park in Hurstville. They were co-developed by the collaborative team initially formed in 2018 for the Australian Smart Cities and Suburbs program.

Street Furniture Australia thanks CM+ for the site arrangements and technology partners LX Group, Onyx Solar Energy, WaterGroup and Smartsensor Technologies for helping to bring these experimental prototypes to life.

The PIA national judges were “impressed with the approach, which focussed on deliverability and usability, not just the theory of a smart cities concept”.

“In the judges’ opinions, the ChillOUT Hubs address a number of factors and provide a variety of economic, social and health benefits to local communities that are scalable and can be tailored to meet local demands and needs.

“ChillOUT Hubs are designed to be human-centred, taking into consideration and responding to environmental features of different areas and thus are adaptable to local community needs and expectations.”

Featuring a modular design, the hub can be tailored to each site and its community. Street Furniture Australia undertook a discovery phase prior to designing the prototypes, to deeply understand the communities at each Georges River location.

This “highly engaging project” is a collaboration between industry, academia and local government that “sought a practical, functional and sustainable translation of smart cities concepts,” said PIA.

The ChillOUT Hub prototypes are currently undergoing further development in response to learnings from the Georges River installations. The smart community hubs are scheduled for launch in 2022.