In 2014, the 7 Senses Foundation team approached its second annual Street Day with a tactical urbanist heart and an ecological community development mind.
The aim was simple - to create long-term vision amongst communities about the benefits of sensory focussed design through the use of short-term, inexpensive interventions.
As a result, the second annual 7 Senses Street Day saw a surge in community members across Australia volunteer to organise “pop-up” events in their residential streets, local parks, and even the small business heart of the hinterland town of Palmwoods.
More than 500 residents in Queensland, NSW and Western Australia faced the hot late spring weather to participate in 7 Senses Street Day activities that sought to engage our seven human senses and create safer, more playful and inclusive communities.
Civic spaces were transformed with temporary planting and safety barriers re-shaping the space and encouraging community members of all ages and abilities to engage with the sensory hubs: herbs planting for smell and taste senses; garden mazes for vestibular and proprioception senses; and wind chimes and hanging mobiles for visual, auditory and tactile senses.
The 7 Senses team worked closely with the community organisers of the Street Days in order to maximise community involvement and buy-in towards the big picture – permanent sensory focused design interventions. This approach was most successful in the small hinterland township of Palmwoods, on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, where current master planning of their town square has the residents ready for a more community and sensory focused approach.
Volunteer organisers were also actively encouraged to re-use and recycle, with an emphasis on inexpensive and achievable interventions. 7 Senses Street Day was a collaboration between Emerge Associates and wAILA fresh in Perth Western Australia and captured the spirit of upcycling interventions with their handmade music wall.
Most successful of all, however, was the level of participation by people of all abilities. At the flagship events held in Palmwoods and Fairfield, the 7 Senses Street Day organisers worked closely with local disability service organisations to ensure that activities were safe, inclusive and proactively encouraged participation.
The use of tactical urbanism paired with an ecological community development model has led the management of both the Palmwoods disability training organisation, Compass, and Fairfield residency organisation, Aid for the Blind, to establish a long-term vision for their communities that incorporates a 7 Senses framework.
7 Senses Design Framework
The 7 Senses Street Day attempts to curate temporary interventions that abide by the overarching design guidelines for creating a 7 Senses space:
EngagingThe space actively engages and stimulates each of the 7 senses, providing a fun, challenging and inspiring experience that enhances sensory and motor development.
CommunalThe space facilitates community activity, encourages local ownership, and promotes a sense of community identity and cultural sensitivity.
UniversalThe space and facilities within it adopt universal design principles for architectural and learning, to ensure equity of access, flexibility, simplicity and perceptibility. The space adopts Child Friendly Cities (UNICEF) processes and guidelines.
ConnectedConsideration is given to how the space connects with surrounding and neighbouring built environment, and seeks to improve connections with built environment within the space.
TransitionalThere is consideration for pedestrian, cyclist, and vehicular journey through the space, with all modes able to safely traverse through.
IndividualEach space is developed with flexibility and sensitivity to current environment parameters, and with consideration to local context and culture.
AchievableDesign, development and implementation of the space is achievable for limited resources and ongoing maintenance by council or local residents.
7 Senses Street Day in action
The wAILA Fresh and Emerge Associates team in Western Australia have generously documented their 7 Senses Street Day event in a short video that can be viewed here.
For more information visit the website: www.7senses.org.au
Images (top to bottom): 7 Senses Street Day at Palmwoods (L-R) Linda Cupitt, 7 Senses Foundation; Glenn Wilson, Palmwoods Progress Association; Tobias Volbert, 7 Senses Foundation; and Mariannje Woods, Palmwoods Progress Association; Handmade musical wall was a big hit at the WA Street Day; and Residents from Aid for the Blind participating in the Fairfield Street Day.