Street Furniture Australia is collaborating with the ACT Government on #WodenExperiment, a six-month furniture installation project designed to activate the Woden Town Square, an open outdoor plaza in Phillip, Canberra.

The concept design prepared by Context Landscape Design for the project has been released along with a 67-page research report based on the community’s feedback during the six-week Discovery phase carried out by Street Furniture Australia, which saw members of the community, local businesses and politicians share their experiences of the public square.  

The concept design seeks to bring life, joy and comfort to Canberra’s Woden Town Square, with the primary objective being to attract more visitors as well as encourage people to stop and spend time, rather than use the area as a thoroughfare. The concept design for the six-month activation includes five hubs of activity: a work hub, green dining, community square, social lounge and timeout space.

The hubs feature a stage for community performances, outdoor offices, smart benches with phone and laptop charging, table settings near spaces set aside for coffee and food vendors, and turf areas with sun lounges.

Street Furniture Australia Design and Marketing Manager June Lee Boxsell explains that the objective of the Discovery Phase was to really try to understand the needs and aspirations of the Woden community in order to form the design brief for the town square activation.

“From deep empathy interviews, surveys, workshops and observation, we identified six key personas: fictional characters to represent demographic and social groups. We identified the Mum, Office Worker, Time Outer, Student, Wanderer and Retiree, so we have a strong image in mind of who we’re designing for.

“The personas were at the heart of the design brief we received for #WodenExperiment. We connected each of the five hubs in our concept to the personas, and how they might like to use Woden Town Square,” says Context Design Director Hamish Dounan.

“For example, a Mum with a pram will be able to sit and have a coffee, charge her phone in the shade and watch her kid play in a safe environment. She’ll be able to attend an outdoor pop-up library for Story Time, and on the weekend she could visit the square for dinner and listen to live jazz under the fairy lights.

“We’re really designing experiences for her, and all of our other personas, facilitated by the physical environment.”

#WodenExperiment also aims to address five key challenges unearthed during the Discovery phase: the microclimate including wind and lack of shade; grey-ness (both physical and psychological); limited activities with few reasons to stay; lack of connection via signage and technology; and feelings of safety and security.

The ACT Government is now calling for expressions of interest from the community for ideas on how to activate the new space. Activation will begin February 2019.

If community groups are interested in running events or activities in the public space during the six-month installation, they are invited to register their interest at the Your Say ACT website, where the concept plan is also available.

Access to the 67-page Discovery Report with information about the personas, challenges and opportunities, and full survey results, is available on the Street Furniture Australia website.