Garema Place in Canberra will be transformed for 8 days

Garema Place in Canberra will be transformed for 8 days

***** 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.

Garema Place is often a thoroughfare

Garema Place is often a thoroughfare

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 snack carts, a pop-up library courtesy of ACT Libraries and a moonlight cinema.

Timeline showing the #BackyardExperiment activation

The movable seats will be closely monitored. How many will go missing? Which elements attract the most users? How long do they stay for? Are they passive, alone, or active, socialising? How are the seats positioned?

Forum Seats by Street Furniture Australia

Forum Seats by Street Furniture Australia

Street Furniture Australia, with award-winning design firm Context, will test the theory, championed by place thought leaders including Jan Gehl, Lawrence Halprin and William Whyte, that seating is key to successful public spaces.

Seating is the simplest and most cost-effective way to attract people.

Jan Gehl opportunties for sitting

The pop-up park will also feature free WiFi, yarn bombing, painted pavers, interactive street art by Candy Chang, a light installation and real, lush lawn.

Concept for Garema Place

Concept for Garema Place

Pop-up park by Context

Pop-up park by Context

Light installation courtesy of ACT Lighting Society, Integral Lighting and WE-EF

A light installation courtesy of ACT Lighting Society, Integral Lighting and WE-EF LIGHTING

Yarn Bombing for Garema Place ACT

Progress photo from Facebook community page #BackyardExperiment Knitters

Painting Garema Place

Painting Garema Place

Why we are making a film …

The result of #BackyardExperiment will be a 5-10 minute film, inspired by The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces by William Whyte.

Whyte’s film, made in 1980, shows how people behave in parks and plazas, their patterns and quirks. If you haven’t seen Whyte’s film it is worth scheduling an hour to take it in.

The film offers insights that landscape architects and industrial designers can use to create places that better accommodate humans.

It is fascinating to watch coworkers group together, mirror each other with an eight second delay, veer from their path towards food stands, do double takes as they pass the Paley Park waterfall.

In popular plazas people sit wherever there are opportunities, crowd onto stairs, bunched together. Groups chat in the middle of walkways, seemingly wherever it is most inconvenient for others.

They shift movable seats, just an inch, before sitting. Touch sculptures to see what they are made of. Wander about, watching others.

#BackyardExperiment will bring the focus back on people with the aim to improve user experience, just as Whyte did forty years ago.

Will today’s fast-moving, fast-walking, plugged-in headphones world be reflected in our time-lapse film? Just how much has changed in forty years?

Have smartphones changed our experience of public space?

Have smartphones changed our experience of public space?

A community project …

#BackyardExperiment could not have been possible without the time, resources and effort from many businesses and community groups.

The project was sponsored by In the City Canberra, a not-for-profit organisation run by property owners that funds activations in the capital city.

We would like to especially thank:


How do I find out more?

#BackyardExperiment film will be released through StreetChat in December 2016.

To keep up to date with the project, sign up to StreetChat, and follow us on social media with the hashtag #BackyardExperiment.

If you are in Canberra this month, have a look at #BackyardExperiment for yourself. The pop-up park is open 24 hours at Garema Place from 23-30 October.

#BackyardExperiment is part of the 2016 International Festival of Landscape: Not in my BackyardArchitecture.


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