DT - Community Placemaking for Social & Environmental Impact
Design for Communities & Nature
The Hogsmill River running adjacent to Knights Park at Kingston university is vulnerable to litter and pollution from nearby activities, which have the potential to harm wildlife, and the public water supply. How can we encourage staff, students and the public to protect the river, so that it can be enjoyed by everyone?
As designers, how would we encourage users to engage with their surroundings? Might a greater understanding of biodiversity result in greater desire to protect and enhance their local environment?
Stakeholders and and a wide spectrum of user interviews with 33 people.
What we learnt, is that users need a sense of belonging, a sense of empowerment that they all are active citizens, also the interventions need to be playful, positive and fun.
After creating and testing 3 prototypes, this lead me on to develop a nature trail, that had both a non tech and tech layer to it. The non tech part being inclusive for all
including younger children and parents. The digital tech layer would be for smartphone users – university students, parent and older children, to use with an app named Layar.
The trail will inspire getting out, being active and learning about nature. Encouraging users to participate and share their discoveries but also providing valuable feedback about the
riverside. The trail has a digital interactive element, using the Layar app, smartphone users can scan images for extra clues and
information. While children and older users have the option to share their findings on the
Discovery Board and take part in the online quiz. The aim is to develop three nature trails
for our local community. The idea is for the trail to be seasonal, so it changes through natures cycle to keep it fresh and exciting.
This was part of my MA major project, so was part of my larger research project that explored local assets and wellbeing using strategic design thinking methods.
During the summer holiday’s the nature trial got busy with children drawing on the Discovery Board, I measured this by taking pictures every day and replacing coloured chalks. The local community had taken responsibility by taking good
care of cleaning the boards, this showed how the mood had uplifted and how the local riverside benefited from this activity.
Parents feedback was very positive, their children would run round the corner, looking
forward to the discovery board, this was a great sign of the children’s engagement too.
The project received a distinction and I was commended a studentship, I was also commissioned to design posters for the university that are now a permanent feature