Dedicated to the improvement of public space, Street Furniture Australia pushed the boundaries with this public pop-up park in Garema Place.

Part street furniture, part public art, the community initiative #BackyardExperiment was constructed to demonstrate how changing public spaces can bring out the best in a city and its people.

In October 2016, Street Furniture Australia, partnering with the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) and design firm Context, undertook a social experiment designed to better understand how public space is used by creating a temporary pop-up park in Garema Place, Canberra.

Envisioned by Context, the pop-up park was created for the 2016 NIMBY International Festival of Landscape Architecture. Featuring 60 movable seats, and cafe tables and stools from Street Furniture Australia, and supporting activation elements, including a green lawn, colourful pavement, yarn bombing and a pop-up library, #BackyardExperiment was built by the community, for the community.

Street Furniture Australia supplied Forum Seats, single-seaters, powdercoated in Jaybird, Brilliant Yellow and Pearl White, contributing to the colour spectacle created in the park. There were also lighter wireframe seats sourced from a popular retailer, which Street Furniture Australia powdercoated in Telemagenta, Safety Yellow and Sensation.

“The absolute key to designing for people is research. The purpose of #BackyardExperiment was to observe and gain insights about how to improve the user experience of public space,” says Street Furniture Australia Product and Marketing Manager June Lee Boxsell. “We also wanted to test the theory that the fastest and most cost-effective way to attract people is to provide more places to sit.”

A section of living lawn was laid and maintained by Lawn Solutions Australia to bring green into the plaza, and atmospheric lighting was supplied by Integral Lighting and WE-EF to activate the space at night and provide a sense of safety. The pavement was painted with temporary Annie Sloan chalk paint, and volunteers knitted and crocheted the yarn bombing, which was used to wrap the trees in bright, inviting colour, to create an overall sense of artistic whimsy within the space.

Usually just a thoroughfare, the aim was to attract people to spend time in Garema Place, particularly families. A gelato stand, coffee cart, free wifi, and an outdoor cinema were also erected in the space in a bid to encourage the public to linger. Invitations to engage with the project were issued via social media using the hashtag #BackyardExperiment, inspiring the community to support the park.

As a means to capture community engagement with the space, time-lapse cameras were installed to monitor activity and garner data for the social study. The cameras were set up to watch and understand how people use the space in three different scenarios: existing; with the addition of Street Furniture Australia's moveable seats and vibrant elements; and with pop-up activations, including the outdoor cinema, library and snack cart.

Through the time-lapse photography collected Street Furniture Australia was able to measure the success of the project based on the number of visitors and interactions with the space. The collated data provided insight into how the installation changed the public environment and could be used in the future to create better public spaces.

#BackyardExperiment was a collaboration between The Australian Institute of Landscape Architects, Street Furniture Australia, ACT Government, In the City Canberra, WE-EF Lighting, Affinity Electrical, Integral Lighting, The Lighting Society, Complete Turf and Landscaping, and Back to Front Landscaping.


Street Furniture Australia  

P  1300 027 799
Twitter #backyardexperiment   


Location | Garema Place, Canberra
Project Partner | AILA
Landscape Architect | Context | Hamish Dounan
Lighting Design | Anthony Linard
Lawn Supply | Lawn Solutions Australia
Photography | Randal Photography

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