(Un)urban Day 1- A Whole New World

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is a process; working together is success.” – Henry Ford

I think this is a pretty good quote to start off the first post. Having people coming from different disciplines, talking about topics that might have never cross our mind (e.g. open/green spaces, well-being, empathy, urban planning etc.) is definitely something incredible. It is really interesting to see how we all look at the same issue from very different perspectives.

I am impressed by how much idea we generated by just taking a brief walk in Gordon Square. We talked about how space/architecture can influence our behaviour (e.g. pathways and fences). For instance, the garden is “designed” in a symmetrical manners with some barriers giving an impression of enclosed/protected area, which might subconsciously imposed some restrictions on our behaviour (e.g. movement and emotion). Some expressed feeling uneasy when people walked around the garden, not using the footpath provided, potentially because of the “design” of the garden. This led to the discussion about empathy, understanding how different individuals might view and utilise the space.

There are also some surprising facts that we have never thought of. For example, when we were brainstorming about what people might do in the garden, we mentioned about playing Frisbee, walking dogs, hanging out with friends etc. However, after spending some time “experiencing” the garden (which we probably didn’t have the chance to do so due to the busy schedule during term time), we found that Gordon Square, in particular, might be more like a “museum” kind of garden? There are statues remembering a poet, a Special Operations Executive agent during the Second World War and an archaeology stone placed around the garden. Surprisingly, the activities we thought of (e.g. sports game) are actually not allowed in the garden!

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We also observed a separation of space – an overgrowth wild area used as a habitable space for the biodiversity and a kept tidy area with benches for users. Rethinking about the concept of space, it is probably something that we take it for granted and never really pay attention to.

Some other ideas that we have raised:

  1. The rhythm of space (e.g. the walking pace in different places, either in the garden or on the street, in the morning or during the night)
  2. Space and emotion (e.g. green spaces and stress)
  3. How people make use of spaces (e.g. activity maps)

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Before I end this post, I would like to include an interesting question raised by one of the group member today:

“Is there a difference between a park and a garden? Gordon Square used the term ‘garden’ instead of a park. ”

Uncle Google says “A garden is usually a place for plants, flowers, trees, and other plant life. They are most commonly placed around people’s houses. A park is a public place that can have anything from walking paths, to open fields, sports fields like a soccer pitch, or play equipment for children.”

So, perhaps, garden is more for quiet and calm activity whilst park is for more lively and active activity? This is an intriguing question I must say!

 

Keywords generated by the team to sum up today’s programme:

“trees”, “interesting”, “inquisitive”, “cleansing”, “exploring”, “experiencing”, “environment”, “perspective”, “morality”, “refreshing”, “empathy”, “understanding”

 

P/S: Special thanks to Umar, Alyssa and Yasmin for the input 🙂

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