‘Effective place activation is connecting with the heart of community, actively contributing to building stronger communities, promoting social cohesion and allowing the place to grow its own “soul” and being part of the community.
When people stand shoulder to shoulder in Federation Square to mark a significant event, whether it’s to celebrate or to mourn, that moment of sharing creates a special bond. It brings added meaning for the individual and a sense of belonging to a community with shared values and priorities. Our sense of being part of a community is enriched through sharing moments of grief like during the aftermath of the Black Saturday Bushfires, the city came together at Federation Square to show their regional comrades they cared. Federation Square has become the natural place to gather for moments like these, whether it be watching the live broadcast of the National Apology to the Stolen Generation on the Big Screen or to memorialise Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, Jim Stynes or Peter Brock. Federation Square has also become the natural place to gather for moments of greatness, whether it be watching live broadcasts of the World Cup Soccer or welcoming home the Australian Olympic team. The lesson learned here is to continue Federation Square’s commitment to providing the community with a “backyard” – a place to meet, to come together, to share ideas and critical milestones, to be proud of and express our collective community sentiment.’
Melburnians have embraced the concept of Federation Square, a public area to gather in the CBD. We spoke to Fed Square’s Program Manager Jane Sydenham-Clarke and received some truly awesome response that summed up what an engaging place means.
‘There are interesting trends emerging in public place-making and events, which are symptomatic of the times in which we live where people are looking for deeper and more meaningful connections. There is a sense that capitalism has failed us and we are no longer yearning for consumption, but rather asking questions about sustainability, family and well-being. As Future Laboratory argues in its 2013 Trend Briefing, “inner happiness” is now critical.
This raises interesting challenges for public place-makers with respect to the role of place contributing to individual and collective well-being. At Federation Square there is an increasing focus being applied to creating opportunities for visitors; enhancing their well-being as part of their visit. These opportunities include creating comfortable and quiet places for visitors to rest as well as a dedicated programs encouraging well-being. Programs include Tai Chi, Qigong, meditation sessions, Salsa classes, Zumba classes and hip hop jams. Intellectual exercises are also part of this programming through conversation, discussion and debate forums; and socialisation around knitting, crochet and chess activities. The aggregated impact here is a demonstrable commitment to supporting our visitors’ comfort and well-being.’
Thanks so much to Jane and the team at Fed Square for their awesome work. Here’s a link to their 10th Anniversary video showing some of the many community activities and milestones at Federation Square:
Want more inspiration for your place? We spoke to other great ‘place activators’ for our eguide – Activation Inspiration. Available for download now. (Remember to add: subscribe at the checkout for 50% off for all subscribers. You can subscribe here – it’s free!!)