Week 2: The mayor of Fremantle

This week the mayor of Fremantle: Dr. Brad Pettitt was kind enough to come and speak to us about his goals and objectives for the future development of Fremantle. Furthermore, we discovered new methods of data collection and recording, compared branding strategies between Australian state tourism campaigns and created a fictional character. It was a fairly informative week, and I shall begin by talking about the new information provided by the mayor of Fremantle.

Lecture with Dr. Brad Pettit – Mayor of Fremantle

Since the first step towards creating a solution is to define the problem(), Mayor Brad Pettitt’s lecture was extremely useful in providing us with a starting point for the current barriers to ‘happiness’ in Fremantle. Along with what he perceived to be the current challenges currently facing the historic city, the mayor also provided us with a sparkling example of the vision, mission and direction he hoped to take the city through council approved developments such as the creation of multi-use housing areas and the renovation of old public spaces (Pettitt, 2014). He also touched upon examples of projects, such as providing free ping pong tables and public WIFI, that have successfully contributed to a city’s happiness in cities such as New York (Pettitt, 2014). However, most importantly, Dr. Pettitt gave me a starting point for researching exactly what constitutes a ‘happy’ city, and how that can be achieved.

According to Dr. Pettitt, a happy city is:

– A safe and friendly city,

– A diverse and unique city,

– A city that contains beautiful art and atmosphere,

– A city that allows for ‘accidental meetings’, and

– A city that is ethical and sustainable (Pettitt, 2014)

This no doubt in-exhaustible list gives us some idea as to the type of future that the mayor hopes to achieve for the city of Fremantle. Sustainability appears to be the issue that permeates nearly every other point on Pettitt’s ‘happiness’ list, and I believe that in order to be successful, my happiness project will need to be something sustainable, regardless of whichever other point on that list it ends up addressing.

The most interesting item from that list, I believe, is the concept of ‘accidental meetings’. While many people may believe that an accidental meeting may only concern two human individuals, I believe and accidental meeting is something that can occur between a person and an object, a person and a business, and even, a person and a public space. From personal experience, it can often become difficult to have these moments of discovery in Fremantle if you venture beyond the city center. This isn’t due, I might add, to a lack of actually interesting places outside of the Fremantle CBD. On the contrary, there are many really fun, quirky stores and cafes tucked between the outer streets of Fremantle. Rather, not many people are aware of this hidden side to Fremantle, and stay instead within the confines of the usual tourist district. This might be a possible problem I could try to solve – that is encouraging people to visit businesses that are off the Fremantle beaten track. It would tick a number of the elements on Pettitt’s happiness checklist, as well as address the economic, social and sustainable issues that Pettitt mentioned as outlined below.

The mayor divided the challenges facing Fremantle into three broad categories: economic, social and environmental/sustainability challenges. He also proposed several solutions that he hopes will

Economic Challenges

According to mayor Pettitt, Fremantle is in a state of economic decline. A stagnant population arising largely as a result of an aging population and rising house prices has contributed to the gentrification of certain areas in Fremantle. In addition to this, the fact that house prices have almost doubled since 2006 (REA Group Ltd, n.d) have created significant barriers towards younger, more diverse families from moving into the area – reducing the level diversity within the population and therefore impacting the vibrant and unique culture of Fremantle. Furthermore, the number of jobs and retails outlets in the city of Fremantle have fallen, meaning there are fewer incentives for younger individuals and families to move into the area. The Fremantle economic development strategy 2011-2015 report updated by the city of Fremantle in 2012 attributes much of this decline to the global financial crisis and the correlating spike in house prices (City of Fremantle, 2012). Fortunately, the City of Fremantle have engaged in a number of projects to combat these challenges. These include:

  • Council Action Scheme amendments that will allow for 5000 more residents, 70,000 sq/m of office space and 20,000sq/m of additional retail space through mixed-use zoning and developments. All developments will be constrained by maximum height limits and sustainable design and development criteria.
  • New developments such as the Bannister street hotel, Queen Victoria street apartments, a Cafe/Bakery on Pakenham street, and the Kings Square redevelopment project (which will also contribute a new public space residents to gather in).
  • Ensuring that at least 15% of all new residential developments meet affordable housing criteria. (Pettitt, 2014)

These plans also provide overlapping benefits to the other challenges that mayor Pettitt described, such as increasing the sustainability of Fremantle due to higher density living, and enhancing cultural pride and growth by allowing new residents to ‘activate’ and contribute to the bustling city (Pettitt, 2014).

Social Challenges

The social challenges facing the City of Fremantle appear to revolve around the natural ebb and flow of crowds over the course of the week. According to mayor Pettitt, empty streets tends to encourage crime and anti-social behaviour. Furthermore, Fremantles reputation as the art capital of WA is in danger due to important centers such as the Fremantle markets becoming too ‘touristy’. From personal experience, I find this has become a real problem that dissuades Perth central people from making the trip too often – there is simply very few new retail options to explore. Or at least in theory. As I mentioned above, there are a huge number of quirky, out of the way stores and cafes that are simply off the main Fremantle districts. This also reduces opportunities for residents to start their own minor businesses, as not only are rents within the CBD prohibitively expensive, renting beyond the immediate city center may not necessarily be worth it.

Another social challenge involves the communities that have built up in Fremantle over time. The population of Fremantle is relatively small, and local residents have little reason to utilise public spaces during the week. In response to the above problems, as well as a fall in community bonds, Mayor Pettitt proposes the following tactics:

  • Turning public spaces such as parks and the main square into the city’s ‘lounge room’
  • Creating and supporting community gardens
  • Providing free ping-pong and public WIFI in order to encourage people to come into contact with one another
  • Encouraging festivals, pop-up shops and community events
  • Rebranding Fremantle to attract new visitors

Mayor Pettitt envisions a strong community that enjoys taking pride in it’s heritage and surroundings. To that end, it is important for a community to be as sustainable as it is vibrant and economically prosperous.

Sustainability challenges

Sustainability issues isn’t something that only affects Fremantle. All of Perth has had to deal with the effects of urban sprawl. Fortunately, mayor Pettitt seems to be aware of the importance of tackling the issue early. Firstly, many of Fremantles sustainability issues have been addressed by the solutions suggested above. Other inititatives the City of Fremantle have engaged in include:

  • Increasing Fremantle’s bike friendliness. Note that this will also impact on community bonds by getting more people outdoors and in each others company. It will also allow businesses to flourish around popular cycling tracks
  • Banning plastic bags
  • Taking steps to turn Fremantle into Western Australia’s first carbon neutral council
  • Using geothermal power for Fremantle’s leisure pool
  • Plans for a light rail, solar and wind farm and off-grid housing

While it is gratifying to see that the City of Fremantle is so proactive in ensuring the happiness of the city, I think it would be useful to briefly outline what I think are the guiding principles that I will need to consider for my own project. From mayor Pettitt’s definition of a happy city, as well as the types of intitiatives the City of Fremantle are employing to achieve this ‘happiness’, I believe my project will have to achieve one or more of the following:

  • Encourage community interaction and bonds
  • Contribute to the sustainability of the city, or at the very least, be a sustainable project itself
  • Encourage economic prosperity – perhaps by assisting businesses in becoming more visible, or finding ways to provide low-cost retail space.
  • Encourage civic pride in the history of Fremantle – or make it easy for tourists and visitors to access and enjoy areas of cultural and historical significance

That’s all I can think of for now. Hopefully I will come up with more guidelines through my research.

RESEARCH

I have done an extraordinary amount of research this week concerning what a happy city is, and how urban design contributes to community happiness. I have also gathered opinions from friends and family regarding how they currently feel about Fremantle, and brainstormed some ideas myself (which you will find in my ‘Project development’ section).

What is a happy city?

A happy city, according to Charles Montgomery, is a city that contains strong community bonds, which can be further encouraged through good urban design (Montgomery, 2013). I am certain Dr. Pettitt has read his book, ‘Happy City: Transforming our lives through Urban Design, as the second chapter is titled ‘Every city is a Happiness Project’. Montgomery uses case study cities such as Houten – which boasts a cycling infrastructure that places the needs of the cyclist above the needs of a car-owner (Montgomery, 2013) and the experiences of individuals such as Rob McDowell (Montgomery, 2013) to demonstrate the importance of community in the overall happiness of a city. An interesting fact that Montgomery hits upon is that the happiness of a cities population if not directly correlated with how wealthy each individual is (Montgomery, 2013). This idea is backed up by John Halliwell, an economics professor at the University of British Columbia (Helliwell, 2010). Instead, ‘social connectedness’ is one of the most important factors that contribute to the happiness of a city. And Urban design, argues Montgomery, can play a major role in encouraging and maintaining community ties.

In the example of Rob McDowell, McDowell found that he was far happier living in a less expensive townhouse fronting a communal area as it provided him with a socially safe area to engage with his neighbours, rather then a large, spacious apartment with a breathtaking view of the city (Monthomery, 2013). Furthermore, a Swedish study has found that longer commute times can actually contribute to increased rates of divorce (Sandow, 2011). This all points to the idea that how we structure our communities – be it by making work and leisure areas easily accessible, promoting bike infrastructure, or simply encouraging people to interact – can all affect how communities are formed. An interesting experiment undertaken by Montgomery on behalf of the Guggenheim in New York was to make New Yorkers – traditionally one of the least empathetic populations in America – more open to the idea of interacting with and forming communities with complete strangers. He gave a talk discussing his results in the Sam Sullivan Public Salon in Vancouver.

New York is commonly considered one of the unfriendliest cities in the world so it is surprising to hear about people coming together for the purpose of becoming more empathic, and, even better, become more empathic as a result of the excercise. As mentioned in the video, prior to the event, participants were asked whether or not people working night shifts should be paid more. The majority of individuals responded in a typical New Yorker fashion by replying that people working night shifts should just ‘tough it out’. Following the experiment, Montgomery was surprised to find that people were more open and empathic to the plight of night-shift workers, and responded with positively when asked if they should be paid more. This, is a wonderful example of how living in a nice neighborhood can promote happiness and living conditions for everyone living in it.

I think so far we have confirmed what the mayor of Fremantle has outlined as being factors that contribute to a cities overall happiness. Most of the other considerations he has mentioned that lead to a happy city – that is diversity, safety, and sustainability – can be tied back into building strong communities.

Creating Community through urban design

But how do you go about creating city areas that contribute to the formation and maintenance of these bonds? According to Mark Childs, author of ‘Urban Composition: Designing Community through Urban Design’, a successful urban landscape contains ‘concinnity’ – that is a synergy between the individual elements of a neighbourhood (Childs, 2012). Individual housing, public spaces and retail outlets should be placed in a manner that is communal and easily modified to allow the organic evolution of a community, as well allowing  community to gain ownership of their environment (Childs, 2012). I also believe this sense of adaptability is essential for allowing a community to grow and flourish. For example, Scot’s church in Fremantle alternatively serves as a place of worship on Sunday and an impromptu dance venue on Tuesday nights. Childs also touches upon sustainability issues, suggesting that a positive relationship with our environment results in greater contentment (Childs, 2012) and contributes to the overall culture of a community. The mayor briefly touched upon this second idea when he suggested that residents were sure to ‘activate’ and become more protective of their Fremantle heritage.

In my research, strong urban desing requires the creation of public spaces for community members to interact in. According to Childs, public spaces are where we “run into friends, (…) display art, hold community parties and vigils, make memorials, play and people watch” (Childs, 2012. p.31). This idea is backed up by Hugh McKay who believes that society’s loss of community spirit can largely be solved by creating strong public spaces (Pidcock, 2004). Fremantle already has some fairly popular public spaces with new developments sucha s the King Street renovation creating new areas in which communities can interact (Pettitt, 2014). The real problem, as I perceive it, is drawing people into those areas – especially from the outer suburbs of Fremantle, and giving them a reason to stay there.

How do you measure a happy city?

But how do you measure whether a city is happy or not? What are the metrics used to gauge overall happiness?

Well the Legatum Prosperity Index is one measure that looks at a range of factors such as economic prosperity, social capital, personal freedom and education. Other factors are shown below:

The Legatum Prosperity Index measures

Fig 1: Legatum Prosperity Index measures – click to enlarge (Legatum Prosperity Index, n.d.)

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index also takes a measure of the happiness of populations by looking at physical and emotional health, work environments and access to healthcare (Healthways, n.d.). An interesting approach to measuring happiness is one that has been taken by the city of Vancouver. They have compiled a list of facets of urban life, and demonstrated how those may be achieved. These facets are:

  • complete community (land use, density)
  • healthy mobility (transit)
  • healthy buildings (zero carbon)
  • thriving landscapes (open space)
  • green infrastructure (water, sewers, storm)
  • healthy food systems (organic agriculture, nutrition)
  • healthy community (facilities, programs)
  • healthy abundance (sustainable economic development)

(Borys, 2012).

I found the Vancouver measures most useful as it is urban life specific and gives me ideas of how I may measure the happiness of Fremantle residents prior to and following the implementation of my solution. Furthermore, this list gives me ideas of areas that need to be addressed when I think about my project.

CLASS ACTIVITIES

Activity 1 – Branding Australia

In this weeks seminar, we had the opportunity to watch several tourism ads for both Australia, and individual states within.

1. First off was the infamous ‘Where the bloody hell are ya’ ad which was banned in Britain (Braithwaithe & Gibson, 2006). I was never a huge fan of the ad personally, because it seemed to rely on the campiest stereotypes of Australia. However, since Australia appears to be a semi-mythical place to most international tourists, I suppose playing on the stereotypes would generally work. The question breakdown is as follows:

What is the message in this campaign: that Australia is preparing for your arrival. Everyone in the ad is extremely friendly – reflecting the idea that we are a friendly population. There is a diverse range of activities available in Australia (from the city, to the outback, to the beach) that would suit any visitor. And everything will be done with a smile.

What is the campaign promising: This campaign appears to promise international tourists a ‘bloody good time’. Part of Australia’s cultural identity is the relaxed, larrikin attitude we have towards life. This ad promises a whole range of enjoyable activities and landscapes, friendly welcoming people, excitement, relaxation and new forms of adventure.

Are these promises true to your experience? From my own experiences, and the experiences of overseas relatives that I have had the opportunity to travel through Australia with, these promises are generally true. People always comment on how friendly people are in Australia, and how different the attitude, lifestyle and landscape is to anything they’ve seen before (for the record, most of my relatives are from South Africa). The only down side they would talk about is how expensive food, entertainment and souvenirs are here. However, people generally love the laid back attitude and style.

2. The NSW tourism ad took a decidedly different direction from the cheeky friendliness of the first. Instead of placing faces and personalities front and center, the tourism board of NSW chose to instead showcase the states natural beauty.

What is the message in this campaign? There is a sense of timeless natural beauty permeating this ad. The long slow shots of natural landscapes inter spaced with vibrant (but still ethereal) shots of people calmly enjoying this beauty lacks the punch of the first ad, but is effectiveness nevertheless in also demonstrating how varied and diverse NSW is. Again there is a message of ‘something for everyone’ without the need to play on Australian stereotypes. This is probably because this ad is geared towards people already living in Australia.

What is the campaign promising? This campaign seems to promise vast untouched landscapes, diverse activities and a good, relaxed time. While there are some action shots, the soft ethereal music mutes any real sense of danger or excitement (although there is a sense of untouched ‘discovery’). It would appeal to older people seeking a new place to explore I think.

Are these promises true to your experiences? Unfortunately I have never had the opportunity to visit NSW. I know my sister, who studies conservation science, is eager to visit in order to experience all the national parks there. After seeing the ad though, I would love to go with her.

3. The Victoria Tourism ad becomes more city specific by depicting a young woman getting whimsically lost in Melbourne. I suppose this makes sense since the first thing that most people think of when they think ‘Victoria’ is ‘Melbourne. I personally found the ad slightly too whimsical and Alice in Wonderland to appeal to me. But perhaps I am not the target demographic. While yes, I found from my own personal experiences that Melbourne is a great place to get lost, I found the experience more ‘dynamic’ then ‘magical’.

What is the message in this campaign? That Melbourne is a large vast network of interesting, magical and oftentimes fulfilling (i.e. meeting another wanderer in the end) experience. I liked that they showed a range of interesting spots – from graffitied alleyways to magical light shops.

What is the campaign promising? Usually when you visit a new city, it’s a good idea to research the things you should do while there. However, this ad seems to suggest that you can just begin wandering through the streets of Melbourne and still be able to discover new and interesting things to do. It also promises to never be repetitive. In other words, it’s not easy to ‘cross your string’ over the same area more then once.

Are these promises true to your experiences? By and large: yes. I visited Melbourne for the first time just before the beginning of the semester and it was really enjoyable to get lost in all the little alleyways int he city CBD. There was a ton of interesting cafes, free comedy shows and public displays. I found I didn’t really need to plan a daily schedule so much as just walk out the door.

4. Ah Perth. We’re not a bad city. We’ve got some awesome beaches, a pretty relaxed lifestyle and we’re starting to get some really interesting activities. But how does Perth decide to communicate that? By releasing an extremely creepy – almost abusive ex-boyfriendish ad trying to convince people that ‘it’s changed’. As much as I disliked the ad, it definitely felt very ‘Perth’ in how it seemed to be trying too hard.

What is the message of this campaign? I think at it’s core, the ad is trying to communicate that Perth has changed alot from it’s sterotypical ‘boring big small town’ label. However, despite the compelling images, the voice over sounds really uncomfortable and desperate.

What is the campaign promising? The campaign promises great new changes to Perth, and that if you come back this time (why does it assume the audience has started off with a negative opinion of Perth), it will be much better.

Are these promises true to your experiences? Generally yes. Perth is definitely alot more interesting then it used to be. There are far more festivals, public transport is easier to get around. Northbridge has developed into a place you don’t mind taking your parents out to supper at, and it’s always been a really friendly city. I wish the add communicated all that instead of just sounding creepy.

We discussed the above questions in our groups and it was really interesting to hear other peoples experiences – especially of Melbourne. we didn’t have any international students in our group however, which is a shame, because it would have been interesting to hear their reaction to the ads.

Together we also discussed the following questions:

What are the similarities and differences between these campaigns?

There are a number of similarities between the campaigns – namely an attempt to show the diverse number of activities available in the country/state/city. All of them featured the people living in that area somehow, and tried to reach for a message that communicated how enjoyable visiting would be.

The differences, obviously, depended on the audience. The ‘Where the bloody hell are ya’ campaign was clearly directed towards an international audience, while the state ads seemed to target both international and local tourists. I felt that Perth city ad might actually have been advertising to people who already lived in Perth, but who generally avoided the city because they had been their before and found it unenjoyable.

Victoria, New South Wales and Perth are all part of Australia. Why are they portraying different identities in these campaigns?

Possible reasons for differentiating their identities is to entice interstate tourists to visit. Furthermore, Australia is so huge it only makes sense that each state has it’s own identity, which the ads took great pains to advertise.

Activity 2 – Creating a Persona

In this weeks lecture we learned about the three types of design research. As far as I can tell, this list was adapted from Fraylings three types of design (Hanington & Martin, 2012):

– Research into (or about) design: research activities that look at the historic, perceptual, aesthetic and academic theory of design itself (Hanington & Martin, 2012)

– Design as Research: The processes that run parallel to the ‘Design for research’ aspect in which the process of researching for design itself is considered. Usually there is some usability testing (Hanington & Martin, 2012)

– Design for Research: This one is the one I think we will be most focussed on in the beginning weeks. Generally, it is the gathering of secondary and primary data in order to discover, address and solve a design problem (Hanington & Martin, 2012). According to the lecture there are a number of ways to gather gather which include but are not limited to:

  • Observation: In order to gain a better understanding of what either stands between Fremantles residents and their happiness, or what niches can be fulfilled to enhance their happiness, it would be a good idea to just spend a day in Fremantle and observe was people are doing.
  • Fast Sampling: We’ve been told we don’t have the clearance to interview or ask random people questions for this project. However, from experience in previous units, interviews, focus groups and just talking to people have yielded the best data regarding what current problems are and how they can be solved.
  • Roleplaying: This one is a fun one. We are allowed to take on the persona of one of the stakeholders (e.g. the people living there, business owners, tourists) and try to ‘feel’ what they feel. Being the user is perhaps the best way to get in the mind of a stakeholder, and discovering solutions for them.
  • Empathy Map: An empathy map operates a bit like roleplaying, in which we are forced to consider the feelings of a stakeholder from all angles. I suppose this would be a good way to take notes of the little things that would usually escape your attention.
  • Scenario settings: This falls a little bit into the ‘design as research’ subheading in which users are allowed to ‘road test’ solutions. This allows us to gain a greater understanding of how a user would operate a prototype. It would be interesting to run a roadtest in Fremantle of any solutions I come up with.
  • Contextual visualistion/storytelling: Again this is another method of attempting to gain a deeper understanding of how the user feels and operates. Through storytelling we are able to follow a user along his or her usual route, and discover possible problems that could be addressed by our happiness project.
  • Photo Ehtnography: I believe this is the most holistic approach, in which we simply immerse ourselves in visual data and hope some  ideas regarding Fremantles happiness arises.

For our class activity, we were asked to engage in some roleplaying and storytelling in order to get a better feel for what Fremantles stakeholders experience. In groups of four we were asked to get together and create a fictional persona for one of the following flavours of Freo stakeholders:

  • Tourist
  • Business Owner
  • Resident
  • Worker

My group decided to create a persona for a worker that needs to travel into Fremantle.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce: Rachel!

Rachel is a 23 year old nursing student taking a gap year from studying. She lives with her parents in Subiaco and catches public transport to get to her job at a cafe. She has a boyfriend, friends that live in Fremantle, and enjoys the usual things a 23 year old student enjoys. I must admit our group really got into the exercise and had fun debating what kind of person Rachel was.

The second part of the activity was creating a storyboard of what a typical Friday would look like for Rachel in a perfect city of Fremantle. We began with her commute to Fremantle, the time she spent working, and the period after she’d finished work, in which she met up with her boyfriend, waited for friends, and then went off to see a concert. Again, it was alot of fun puppeteering our Rachel through the perfect city, and we allowed her to go home happy with her boyfriend. To gain a better understanding of Rachels needs, we asked ourselves the following:

What does Rachel expect from a perfect Fremantle?

Given Fremantle’s reputation as a quirky artsy city, Rachel will expect a city that is vibrant and full of interesting events and areas. She will expect an ever-changing schedule, pop-up shops, and friendly locals. I think she will also expect alot of off-beat, free events since she is still a student.

What does Rachel need from a perfect Fremantle?
As someone that needs to travel cheaply into Fremantle, Rachel will need solid public transport options that cater to her early rising (since Cafe’s in Fremantle open early) and allow her to go home late (as she might want to stay late in the evening hanging out with friends or visiting shows). Furthermore, as sterotypical as it sounds, as a woman that needs to travel during less busy periods, Rachel needs streets that she feels walking safely down, and security presence in trains and busses in order to feel safe.

Since Rachel is your typical 23 year old, she will need events, concerts and venues that keep her entertained on a Friday evening. Communal areas to meet and hang out with people, and quiet areas she can spend with her boyfriend. She will want shops that she can pick up last minute items from, fashion outlets she can buy her clothes from, and quirky stores that keep her browsing and fit in with her personality.

What is Important to Rachel?

Rachels’ identity is extremely important to her, and she exhibits that through her taste in music and fashion, as well as the venues she chooses to hang out in. Her friends and boyfriend are also extremely important to her, and she will make an effort to attend events with them in order to keep those bonds. Learning and keeping up with trends is another thing that is important to her, and she will always be interested in the newest things in Fremantle.

What could be improved?

It would be great for Rachel if there was an easier way to get to her work. Furthermore, god meeting/hang out points would be great for while she is waiting for her friends to finish work or her boyfriend to turn up. Maybe evening market stalls could keep her occupied and give her something to tell her friends about when they arrive.

After the exercise we went around looking at other groups personas. It was good to see that while some of the characters were radically different, all of them wanted unique activities, solid public transport and parking infrastructure and ways to entertain themselves.

PROJECT DEVELOPMENT

This week I did alot of research on what exactly a happy city was, and the elements that contributed to a happy city. I also gathered a great deal of information from listening to mayor Pettit. My brainstorming began in the mayors lecture with some brief ideas. I realise it is still too early to come up with really solid solutions without putting in more research, but here is the mindmap:

photo 1

Ideas map

Following that weeks seminar, I decided to very briefly develop one of the ideas I had come up within the lecture. Since Rachel – the persona we had developed – had started her day really early in Fremantle, it made sense that her phone may be running out of battery by the time she finishes work. This would be a problem if she wanted to meet her friends or make plans with them after she had knocked off work, so I thought a solar-powered charging station might be a good idea.

 

photo 3

A solar powered charging station

I know similar charging stations are present in places such as Japan and New York

street_charge-650x0

Fig 1: Solar Powered charging station New York (2013)

solar-powered-charging-stat-537x417

Fig 2: Another example (2013)

Another idea I sought to develop further was one I had come up with in response to mayor Pettitt’s economic concerns regarding Fremantles retailers. From personal experience, Fremantle is full of small, quirky stores. Unfortunately, sometimes they are hard to find and you really need to go off the beaten track in order to find them. Only the main street seems to generate any sort of foot-traffic, which, in turn, raises rent prices due to sheer demand for those spaces. So in order to give shops operating in the backstreets a fighting chance, I propose a pop-up shop called ‘the shoebox store’.

A very low-tech pop-up shop

A very low-tech pop-up shop

It will be a very simple, free standing store – perhaps in the middle of Fremantles busiest pedestrian street, where stores can buy a ‘shoebox’ of space for just a few dollars. In other words, they can buy a single spot on one of the thirty ‘shelves’ in the store for maybe five dollars, and place any kind of merchandise they want with a card or list of directions to reach their store. This pop-up shoebox store will serve two purposes: firstly it will encourage economic prosperity by allowing smaller, less visible stores to advertise their products and location. Secondly, as the merchandise will cycle weekly, both residents and visitors to Fremantle will be provided with new, ever-changing, ‘accidental meeting’ products that will keep them coming back.

 

MY THOUGHTS

I enjoyed listening to the Mayor talk about the future developments in Fremantle. Fremantle has always been one of my favourite places to visit and introduce people to. In my research so far I have discovered that strong community bonds are what contribute to the overall happiness of a city, and that all other aspects of urban design should center around creating that sense of community. This is not to say that individual well-being isn’t important as well. Care should be taken to ensure residents are happy, healthy, financially sound and proud of their community. Fremantle has addressed a number of the barriers to increased ‘happiness’ through rezoning and redevelopment schemes, as well as encouraging new cultural events and lifestyle changes (i.e. making the streets more bike friendly).

However, so far I think my research has been a little too broad. Next week I feel I need to look at the following things:

  • Examples of ‘happy cities’
  • Individual ‘happiness enhancing’ projects that other cities have undertaken. The Mayor used the example of free ping-pong tables, wifi and movable seating which were all ideas he got from looking at New York City.

The exercises we completed in the seminar helped me gain a greater understanding of individual stakeholders. It also gave me a few ideas regarding communal projects that could help bring people together – or give them ‘safe’ ares in which to amuse themselves while waiting for their friends (in the case of Rachel). I am thinking of perhaps doing something that allows people to browse through the activities they could do that night while waiting for friends – so that by the time their company arrives, they have a plan for the night!

Another idea surrounds the idea of ‘accidental meetings’. It occurs to be these accidental meetings don’t necessarily have to be between people – they can be between visitors and businesses, or residents and new public spaces. I would like to come up with an idea that could forge new ‘accidental’ meetings.

FURTHER READING
How to build a Smarter City: 23 design principles for digital urbanism

REFERENCES

Borys, H. (2012). Can cities help you forget your troubles? C’mon, get happy! Retrieved from http://www.placemakers.com/2012/10/29/cmon-get-happy/

Braithewaithe, D. & Gibson, J. (2006). Brits ban ‘bloody hell’ TV ad. Retrieved from http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/brits-ban-bloody-hell-tv-ad/2006/03/09/1141701625132.html

Childs, M.C.(2012) Urban Composition: Developing Community through Design. New York: Princeton Architectural

Hanington, B. M., & Martin, B. (2012). Universal methods of design: 100 ways to research complex problems, develop innovative ideas, and design effective solutions (Digital ed.). Beverly, MA: Rockport Publishers.

Healthways (n.d.). Gallup-Healthways Solutions. Retrieved from http://www.healthways.com/solution/default.aspx?id=1125

Legatum Prosperity Index measures [Image] (n.d.). Retrieved March 10 2014, from: http://www.prosperity.com/#!/methodology

Miraval, N.R. (2010). Happiness Is More Than GDP. Retrieved from http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2010/10/26/happiness-helliwell-canada-community/

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