With ‘experience’ being the flavor of the past few months, the Living Future Institute of Australia went above and beyond in their delivery of the Biophilic Design Workshop in Melbourne in December. The content of the day was not just offered via your typical slides-based presentation, but through a range of participatory and inclusive exercises. Attendees were encourage to discuss the way a library would be designed if the project was being managed by the local branch of the CWA, and how that might differ if the client was, say Robin Hood. Information was communicated and shared with passion and vigor, and the room was brought to attention not by awkward coughs or whistles, but beautiful renditions of birdsong from Jane. The ‘main event’ of the workshop was undoubtedly the very real experience of being blindfolded and lead around a local park by a complete stranger. While the exercise may sound like something out of an uncomfortable team-building day, it was in fact an absolutely fascinating way of engaging with the environment. By allowing participants to sense the space with means other than vison, a new appreciation was gained, and fond and enduring memory formed. The process allowed up to consider the full gamut of factors that can be implemented in design, and the way that these can be experienced by the individual. All in all the workshop offered something for everyone, and I am convinced that we all left with not just useful information, but a memorable learning experience. Thank you to all who were involved.
By Kyla Lodewijk, Hassell