Street Furniture Australia, as a corporate partner of the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA), supports the declaration of a Climate and Biodiversity Loss Emergency. The company plans to set ambitious new targets, to be announced in 2020, alongside ongoing environmental efforts. “Street Furniture Australia is wholeheartedly behind this visionary step from AILA, in taking a leadership role to accelerate action against climate change in our industry,” says Co-Founder and Director Bill Morrison. “We are putting together a list of strong targets, informed by sustainability experts, to ensure immediate and effective action. “We hope to collaborate with AILA, AILA members, our customers and suppliers, and other AILA corporate partners, to see where joint efforts can make large impacts.” Street Furniture Australia will continue to: Maintain an Integrated Management System including …
Fear in Parks
By Winnifred R Louis.
Parks that ‘feel’ unsafe can become trapped in a vicious cycle fuelled by underuse, writes psychology professor Winnifred Louis for StreetChat, but these public spaces can be saved.
WL: This is a write-up of a presentation that I gave for the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA), and I want to credit their event which was very interesting and fun.
If you are wondering why we need to think about fear in parks, my answer is that it is important on two fronts. One, for managing actual risks for park users, and two, managing their risk perceptions.
There are a heap of guidelines and standards that address the first task, and one reason for the AILA event was to raise awareness of new guidelines (about mitigating the risk of hostile vehicle attack).
There is maybe not so much public knowledge or focus on the second challenge, managing risk perceptions. Yet it is important, because when the community sees a public space as unsafe, they avoid it – and that can set off a vicious cycle where because of underuse, public spaces become less safe, less well resourced, and less joyful, which in turn makes them more likely to be seen as unsafe and avoided.
“People don’t always process fear on a conscious level.”
Importantly, our perceptions of risk and safety are notoriously biased – we may have a very strong fear of sharks or terrorism, for example, that is disproportionate to our statistical risk.
One approach to managing cues to fear and safety is to try to give messages putting the risks in perspective – but that often doesn’t work very well, because people don’t always process fear on a conscious level.
You can also try to manage some of the cues that people have about risk – for example, lighting dark areas, clearing away bushes near paths that scare people, or maintaining clear fields of view.
A strong approach psychologically is that as well as managing risk cues, you also make sure to signal the safety, or put forward safety cues. For example, a park sign might have positive symbols (hike here, dog walking on leash here) and not just negative symbols or warnings.
Some of the new research is also emphasizing the idea of building up a diversity of facilities which draws a critical mass of people to a park at different times of day, so that safety and perceptions of safety are maintained.
I think that’s a very useful direction for designers to move in – both creating and signalling the safe activity options, and so communicating positively to the public about how the park is used.
When design elements that signal safety and positive activities are prominent, the public is more likely to use and enjoy the park.
Winnifred R Louis is an Associate Professor of the School of Psychology at the University of Queensland. email@example.com
If you would like to contribute an opinion piece, please contact StreetChat at firstname.lastname@example.org
The AILA Festival, more officially known as the International Festival of Landscape Architecture, is our favourite event of the year. Every year the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) works to deliver memorable experiences for its members through four days of discovery, knowledge exchange and opportunities to connect with design, nature and public realm experts. This year’s theme, The Square and the Park, carefully curated by Cassandra Chilton (Rush Wright Associates), Jillian Waliss (University of Melbourne) and Kirsten Bauer (ASPECT Studios), will explore how we conceive, design, fund, construct and manage urban open space in our contemporary context. Street Furniture Australia proudly sponsors our sixth annual festival, which will run from 10-13 October in Melbourne. Here are some must-see events and experiences. Book your tickets at the AILA website. 1. …
Timber? Aluminium? The answer may surprise you. Comfort sitting outdoors can depend on many factors: position, view, shelter, microclimate, social comfort and more – see our Gehl cheatsheet on how to place seats in the city. The temperature of the seat under you can also contribute. Metal, for example, is commonly thought to be hottest in summer and coldest in winter. Street Furniture Australia’s inhouse engineers ran a study, dubbed the Goldilocks Batten Project, to get to the truth. Access the full Goldilocks Report (730KB). They tested anodised, powdercoated and woodgrain aluminium, and oiled hardwood (Jarrah) battens. For comparison, they also looked at raw aluminium – a material we do not use in seats. The battens were placed in the sun, and the temperature recorded regularly. The engineers noted how …
7 park hacks for an aging population: Researchers from the Queensland University of Technology have engaged with older people living in high-density Brisbane, to come up with key design considerations for more usable and comfortable public spaces. Here are seven: A wide variety of places to sit, to enjoy being out in public and watching people. Usable, universal design seating – rather than having to sit on the grass – is especially important for older people as rest-stops or destinations. Hand rails on stairs and steep paths for safety and confidence. Drinking fountains and trees for shade and comfort. Plentiful and clean public toilets. The lack of such facilities can be debilitating and an obstacle to some older people’s enjoyment of the public realm. Wider paths and safer buffers between pedestrians and high-traffic roadways. Safer …
Six women passionate about landscape joined the International Women’s Day breakfast table with Street Furniture Australia, to discuss equality and this year’s theme, #BeBoldForChange. Industry veteran Oi Choong says landscape architecture encouraged her to be bold from the start – to her, it was a “joy” of the profession. “It was a new profession, so you were able to reach your tentacles everywhere. We were allowed to extend our vision and be bold. We experimented, we tried to integrate with other disciplines. We claimed our territory,” she says. With more than thirty years of practice in Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, China and the UAE, the current Consulting Partner with Context says offers to work internationally were joyously formative in her early career. “They gave me the opportunity to leap in, almost blindly, …
Craig Czarny, a Director of Hansen Partnership, has worked for almost 30 years across major public projects, including urban improvement and regeneration initiatives in Australia and overseas. As an Urban Designer and Landscape Architect based in Melbourne, he promotes a special brand of ‘strategic design’ to projects in far-flung regions of Asia, with project work in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Laos and China. Can you give us an insight into your thinking about Australian design knowledge as an export? As a young Australian practitioner in the 1980s, I recall looking principally to the US and Europe for inspiration. Having worked in both these regions in the early nineties, and observing the maturing of the landscape architecture discipline in Australia, I think it’s due time for us to export our skills …