On Thursday 8th November I ran the first of four Design Dialogues workshops for Masters students on the topic of ‘understanding’ with a mock brief requiring students to come up with designs for a mobile sustainability garden for Edinburgh primary schools.
In light of the challenges of Climate Change, Edinburgh City Council invite tenders to design a mobile, responsive, sustainability garden that can be moved around Edinburgh primary schools to demonstrate the principles of sustainable design.
The garden could include elements such as (but not restricted to):
- a fruit tree guild
- a pond
- water and energy harvesting (e.g. water-butts, solar panels etc)
- a herb and vegetable plot
- a food forest
- a well-being/chill zone,
- a meeting place
- a composter
- tools, structures (e.g. greenhouses, sheds, gates, ovens, etc)
Crucially the garden should also be augmented digitally with appropriate technology – how, is up to the designers but the computational augmentations should deepen understanding of ecological processes, or provide insights into sustainable living.
Some technologies that could be utilized are, (but not restricted to):
- sensors and actuators
- audio systems
- websites/social media
- smart phones/watches/tablets
Proposers should keep in mind:
- the carbon footprint of any technologies utilized – the materials used to realize the garden
- how power to the digital technologies will be supplied?
- how the garden will be transported?
The students responded well to the challenge, and after brainstorming lots of ideas such as; revealing what is hidden, buddy benches connected to similar projects in the developing world, augmented reality histories of plants, monitored terrariums or ant farms or bee hives, virtual animals, interactive lighting, real-life tamagochis, remote participation, loose parts workshops – they split into three groups to further understand the brief. The plan is for them to further develop their ideas in week two (Envisionment) and three (Design) and present and critique their designs in week four (Evaluation).
Having reviewed their PACT (People, Activities, Contexts, Technologies) analyses – my hope is for the students to develop:
- a non-screen based interaction design
- a multimedia sensory, herb-table-garden design
- an audio/lighting interaction design.
Here’s some images of the session, whiteboards and posters: