By Makenzie O'Keefe

DENVER (CBS4) – A unique program has kids thinking outside the box, while learning about urban development. They built a city made out of cardboard boxes at the History Colorado Center, during an event hosted by The Denver Architecture Foundation.

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“Box City” is an annual event that teaches children, in kindergarten through 5th grade, about development and the principles that make up successful architecture, design and planning.

Kids go through the entire process all on their own. They first get a building permit, draft a sketch of their building, and stop at a store to get the materials they need. They then construct their building.

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“This is definitely a new experience for me,” explained 11-year-old Amy Xai.

The box city had hospitals, malls, animal shelters, and Amy’s design of a doughnut factory. This year, the kids were required to incorporate something new.

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“I’ve been hearing a lot about this new design which is eco-friendly,” Amy explained. “My teacher brings in architects who told us about the ‘Green Roof Initiative.’”

Amy Xai (credit: CBS)

In 2018, the Green Roof Initiative passed in Denver. It requires new building 25,000 square feet or larger to incorporate light-colored roofs, greenery and solar panels into their building plan. This, had to be included in some of the kid’s designs.

“You put in planters or you put plants on the roof,” Amy said. “It’s probably a bit harder than just a regular roof, but it’s going to help our planet develop and keep healthy!”

The Denver Architecture Foundation said it’s important for kids to learn about what makes up urban development.

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“The Green Roof Initiative is a part of what our buildings are required to do now in the city,” explained Pauline Herrera Serianna, the foundation’s executive director. “So it’s important for kids to learn about it for the future.”

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The kids could also learn how to make their building a historical landmark by working with the Denver Landmark Commission.

Makenzie O'Keefe