Backyard Experiment - Pop-up Park in Garema Place, Canberra

Location Garema Place, Canberra
Client AILA, The ACT Government & In The City Canberra
Year 2016
Project Phase Concept Design to Construction

How do you attract people to public space?

#BackyardExperiment seeks to answer this question. The pop-up park designed by CONTEXT was a social experiment as part of the 2016 International Festival of Landscape Architecture: Not in My Backyard and ran for 8 days at Garema Place, in the heart of Canberra, Australia’s capital city. Garema Place is a largely concrete, underused open area surrounded by cafès, shops and workplaces. With its shady trees and central location, Garema Place has the potential to become a much-loved public place, but is mostly used as a thoroughfare. A bright pop-up park featuring 60 movable colourful seats, living lawn, library and lighting, was built to attract people and make the area more family-friendly, on a limited budget. Three time-lapse cameras were installed to observe and compare data on how people interacted with Garema Place before and during the experiment. The results found that after just eight days the social experiment had resulted in double the amount of visitors. Visitors grew by 190%, dwellers by more than 240%, and far more children, families, couples, seniors and social groups were counted – rising by up to 780%. In a powerful study of placemaking and design thinking, #BackyardExperiment shows the dramatic impact of a small intervention.

“Public space is the new backyard,” says Hamish Dounan, Associate Director of CONTEXT

“Amazing pop up park at Garema Place” - AILA Victoria

“Super quick cost effective way change spaces for the better” - Gareth Collins

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