Growing Smarter: Planning Cities that are Good for People and the Planet - SCOPES Digital Fabrication

Lesson Details

Age Ranges

You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.


Duaa Alaali
Duaa Alaali
Fablab manager
Hello there!  I’m a curriculum developer with a love for technology. I am currently working in Fab Lab Bahrain as a fab lab manger and curriculum developer.  I hold a bachelors of electronics engineering and I enjoy trying new things… Read More


During this hands-on workshop on urban sustainability, participants take on the challenge of building a green city. Participants will learn about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and follow a simplified design thinking approach to design a city addressing the United Nation’s Suitable Development Goal 11: sustainable cities and communities.


The participants are also introduced to basic concepts of digital fabrication and utilize simple laser cut and vinyl cut foldable buildings to build their cities.


This session is ideal for earth day, but can be conducted on any time of the year.

What You'll Need

  • Blackboard sheets and colored chalk.
  • Assorted craft supplies: Scissors, glue sticks, foam shapes, paper cups, paper straws, paper clips and clay.
  • Laser cut/Vinyl cut foldable buildings and houses.
  • Laser cut/Vinyl cut foldable windmill, solar panels and trees.


The Instructions

SDGs and Design thinking

Introduce the participants to the concept of the Sustainable Development Goals and begin visualizing the ideal suitable city.


The session starts by introducing the participants to the United Nation’s Sustainable development Goals (SDGs). The participants are encouraged to discuss the goals and voice their opinions and thoughts on the matter.



The session focuses on goal #11: sustainable cities and communities.

In groups, the participants go through a simplified design thinking process where they select a specific age group and consider the issues that age group might be facing in their city today. The participants share their findings and the problems they identified.


The problems generally would involve ease of transportation, basic services, pollution and the lack of sustainable energy sources.



After identifying the problems, groups begin discussing their suggested solutions to the problems they identified.


Tip: Divide the participants to groups of three to six individuals. We found that a group size of five is ideal.


Designing and building a sustainable city model

Allow the participants to materialize the solutions they came up with in the pervious step with a physical model representing their ideal city.

The participants are shown the materials available to them and the foldable building models that were laser cut ahead of time. The process of folding and assembling the buildings is shown to the full class to insure their understanding of the process. Materials are distributed to each groups and participants are given time to build a model of their ideal city. The city must implement the solutions to the problems identified in the previous step.



Each group is given a blackboard sheet which is the base of the city. They are able to draw on that board with chalk and place their folded buildings to represent different buildings such as schools, hospitals, etc. The participants draw areas to represent gardens and trees and are given materials to build paper windmills and solar panels for energy generation of their cities.



Tip: Display a counter counting down to the remaining time available to complete the model building and issue multiple reminders of the remaining time throughout the activity. We found 30 minutes to be sufficient to complete the activity.



Tip: Keep assembled paper buildings and windmills displayed in a corner so participants can see them for reference.


At the end of the activity, group presents their work to the entire class and explains their solutions and why they believe this would make the ideal city design for their chosen age group.


Digital Fabrication demonstration and Lab tour

The participants learn about digital fabrication and Fab Lab Tools.

At the end of the session, the participants are shown a demonstration of cutting a building using the laser cutter and the vinyl cutter. They learn about how digital fabrication is an important tool that enables us to produce different items that can be used in different ways easily.