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 …
Unpacking #BackyardExperiment with AILA
Seven partners from the team that brought #BackyardExperiment to Garema Place met with landscape architects in Canberra to unpack the collaboration and shout the results from AILA’s rooftop.
June Boxsell, Marketing Manager with Street Furniture Australia, joined MC Jane Easthope from In The City Canberra, Darren Mansfield from Context, the ACT Government’s City Activation Manager Caitlin Bladin, Anthony Linard from ACT Lighting Society, Alena Leonardi from WE-EF LIGHTING, Dave Raison from Lawn Solutions Australia and AILA CEO Shahana McKenzie.
“#BackyardExperiment was a small project that produced big results. We have proof now that this combination of seats, art, colour, lighting and lawn, almost doubled visitation to Garema Place,” said June Boxsell.
“What was most eye-opening was the new mix of people. To me it was a visual feast. There was suddenly a new sense of safety, it became family friendly. Everyone we talked to wanted #BackyardExperiment to stay.”
Shahana McKenzie said that as a fringe event for the 2016 International Festival of Landscape Architecture the project had vastly exceeded AILA’s expectations, in its results, and the ongoing interest from placemakers internationally.
“It really was a team effort. It took a lot of people throwing in products, design services, a whole raft of things to make it happen, and we certainly did not expect it to be as successful as it was,” she said.
Landscape architect Darren Mansfield, from Context, said four basic parameters for successful pop-up installations had emerged from his work on #BackyardExperiment and past projects.
“First, the park should be really simple and easy to build and install. Second, it must enhance the character of the space through good design. Third, it must be well-managed and cannot disturb existing businesses,” he said.
“Most important is inclusiveness. For #BackyardExperiment this meant getting the community involved in activities like yarn bombing. Everyone had some kind of involvement in the park. I believe this was the reason none of the furniture was stolen.”
Public spaces can benefit, he said, from flexible design.
“Allan Correy, a Canberra landscape architect, is quoted in a Landscape Australia in 1979 encouraging the reuse of ephemeral landscapes – we call them pop-ups – because nothing is certain except change.
“Everything changes, including public spaces, so we should design for maximum flexibility for a transient population. So none of this is really new.”
Anthony Linard, Chairman of the ACT Lighting Society, also had suggestions for the ACT Government on adjusting the rules around lighting in the city’s public spaces.
Normally lit with plain white, for the eight days of #BackyardExperiment Garema Place enjoyed a colourful palette designed by Anthony and Cynthia Jolley-Rogers from the society, with help from Integral Lighting.
“We designed blue lighting up into the trees, white spots skimming down the trunks, colour-changing spots on the colourful paving, and warm white pools of light on the grass,” said Anthony.
“A three-dimensional design was created with a 15 metre high ceiling into the trees. It was dynamic, with a contrast of light and dark, warm light and cool blues. There was movement, colours changing.
“These elements made for an exciting lighting design, radically different to anything you see in the public realm in Canberra, which tends to be flat, bright, two-dimensional.
“The timelapse results showed an extra peak in foot traffic at night time, and I think a fair amount of that is due to a much more interesting space created by the lighting. I saw parents bring their kids to play in the coloured light. To me this shows that creative design can make a positive impact on the public realm.
“The bad news is that under current lighting rules you can’t actually do anything like this in Canberra.
“We see great potential for change.”
Alena Leonardi from WE-EF LIGHTING, supplier of the luminaires, said she hoped to collaborate with partners again on similar projects.
“Colour and light does attract people. It makes a place more interesting, even magical. During the experiment people wanted to spend time there after six o’clock, where before it felt unsafe after dark. With normal, white coloured lighting you would not have such a dramatic effect,” she said.
“Our luminaires were bolted to the trees and high up in the air, but still surprisingly nothing grew legs. That was another good result from the experiment, similar to the movable seats.
“It’s very rare for us to be involved in social projects like this. But I believe we should be. Let’s have more collaborations with all parties.”
Dave Raison, Development Manager for Lawn Solutions Australia, defended living turf as a viable alternative to paving and artificial lawns for pop-ups.
“In defence of real turf, we have a lot of hardy products available, and some exciting ones in the works. So give turf a chance for these kinds of events, there’s a lot of things we can do,” he said.
“Turf Guard, for example, can be sprayed on the lawn to stop it from transpiring, holding in the moisture. For areas of high foot traffic we can paint grass green using plant-based pigments. And we’re working to bring new varieties like Sir Grange from the US, known for its hardiness and environmental benefits.
“Many of these grasses were originally collected in Australia, so we’re bringing them home.”
For local Canberrans in the audience, and for MC Jane Easthope from In The City Canberra, the most pressing question was what to do next at Garema Place, with the pop-up park six months gone and coloured pavement starting to fade.
Aside from calls from the audience to “put it all back,” this later appeared on social media:
Still in question is the longer term future of the space. As manager of the City Activation team for the ACT Government, Caitlin Bladin is at least partially in this hot seat.
“The ACT Government wants to see places like Garema Place work better. I think right now we all agree it is not everything it could be,” she said.
“During #BackyardExperiment I went to Garema Place nearly every day, to talk to people. It was amazing. The place and people in it were transformed.
“One man said he had come back time and time again because it improved his mood. Another woman said we had put a giant smiley face on the city.
“More than this, #BackyardExperiment delivered important evidence, which we can analyse and integrate into our policies and planning for future activities.
“For a while there, all was as it should be. Garema Place was the beating heart of a modern, vibrant, dynamic and inclusive city. And I believe it will be again.”
Do you have a space like Garema Place that could do with an intervention? Enquire NOW to book your personal #BackyardExperiment presentation at your workplace.
Download the FREE White Paper: #BackyardExperiment (49 pages, 7MB)
Browse the Product Guide: #BackyardExperiment (5 pages, 10MB)
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 …
The 2017 International Festival of Landscape Architecture has launched in its host city, Sydney, with a bold vision to empower landscape architects. “It’s about engaging landscape professionals at the beginning of the conversation,” Professor Helen Lochhead, Dean of UNSW Built Environment and Convener of the 2017 Festival Creative Directorate, told StreetChat. “Whether it’s about on urban degradation, sustaining ecologies which are being destroyed, hybrid infrastructures and the people in the places that we make. “There’s different scales and layers of intervention that landscape architects engage with, which we want to expose and discuss. “We want landscape architects to acknowledge their agency. We are not at the end of the food chain. We don’t just respond to the brief. We can create the agenda, because the environment in which we work …
60 movable seats. 8 days. 1 location. Time-lapse footage from the #BackyardExperiment pop-up park in Garema Place, an underused thoroughfare in Canberra’s CBD, has revealed stunning findings about the power of small interventions to transform public space. A 10-Minute Documentary (below) and White Paper are available now. Download the FREE White Paper: #BackyardExperiment (49 pages, 8MB) Before #BackyardExperiment, 97% of visitors passed through the grey, hard Garema Place without stopping. The project softened the space with colour, lawn, seating and light, and, in just eight days, Visitor numbers almost doubled. Street Furniture Australia partnered with the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects, the ACT Government, In the City Canberra, landscape architecture firm Context and a host of suppliers and community volunteers to make the project happen. See how together the team increased dwellers by more than 200%, and …
***** Click here for final results of #BackyardExperiment ***** #BackyardExperiment is our most ambitious research project yet. Collaborating with the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects, Street Furniture Australia will attempt to activate Garema Place in Canberra through a pop-up park and 60 movable seats. Garema Place was a cosmopolitan hotspot in the sixties and seventies, but has since become a deserted thoroughfare. The open space is largely concrete and underused, however, it is surrounded by great cafes, shops and workplaces. Over a ten-day period, time-lapse cameras will observe how people interact with the park and furniture elements. The first two days will examine no activation, the next four days will observe activities with park and furniture elements only, and the final four days will discover what happens with full activation, which includes …