Canberra's Backyard Experiment

Using colours, paint, lighting, lightweight tables and chairs, designers (and volunteering passersby) in Canberra turned a place people "generally detest" into an appealing place that makes people stop and hang out there. Their changes dramatically changed the way people engage in space.

"The number of people walking through the plaza nearly tripled in the eight days of the experiment, which took place in mid-October. But before it began, 97 percent of all people in the area walked through without stopping, and nearly all of them were adults under 64 years old."

"When the new features were added, the number of people stopping to hang out in the area shot up 247 percent, and it wasn’t just adults taking a seat as they passed by. More couples and friends lingered in the plaza, as did more seniors, families, and children. This was a key goal behind the project: Garema Place is known more for its weekend nightlife than for being welcoming to families. The researchers credit that change to the wide mix of interventions, including art and color, wi-fi access, physical and digital libraries, freely moveable furniture, and the community collaboration that went into redesigning the area."


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