The BIA Living Lab
The BIA Living Lab was the most important component of the studio. The Living Lab was a temporary educational space created in the heart of the BIA. The Living Lab provided a forum for students to hear from stakeholders in the BIA and conduct activities to consolidate their own knowledge of the local context. It also provided a home base for students to explore the BIA, conduct analysis, engage with the local community, and experience first-hand some of the issues that were raised in the lectures and guest speaker presentations.
The room was set up with a number of stations that contained work from previous class workshops activities. The stations were set up in a way that enabled the student’s ongoing learning to be incorporated through post-it-notes, transcribing of maps, and an understanding that the stations could be rearranged or adapted to suit the student’s learning needs.
The students participated in a range of activities in the Living Lab:
Students heard from business and landowner John Di Renzo about his long history in the area and some of the issues that have recently contributed to the negative perceptions of the area, including traffic and parking, illegal business activities and rubbish dumping in the streets and drains.
City of Belmont Manager of Property and Economic Development, Jay Hardison talked to the students about the role of industrial areas like the BIA in urban economies, their potential for job creation and innovation, and common issues that planners need to be aware of.
City of Bayswater Manager of Sustainability and Environment, Jeremy Maher, talked to the students about the environmental features of the BIA and surrounding area. A particular focus of Jeremy’s presentation was the Bayswater drain that ran through the BIA, one of the most significant features of the landscape and which served an important function in management of storm water flows.
Guided walks of the area were conducted, where students identified issues that had been raised in the classroom, including the diversity of industrial land uses, impacts of business activities on the streetscape, poor accessibility and walkable environments.
The Catalyst Creator workshop was run in collaboration with Dr Anthony Duckworth from Collaborative Place Design. Students were asked to think about a demonstrator project that would serve as their catalyst. Groups were then given the Urban Design Brief Generator to enable them to more systematically deliberate on the range of factors that would be required to support their demonstrator projects at a lot level, including the scale of activities associated with their use mix; access and parking; relationship to the street; and outdoor space requirements. Once students had established an urban design brief for their demonstrator projects, they were provided with a package of materials and boards that represented typical lots within their sub-areas. Included in the packages were three sizes of blocks in ten different colours. The three sizes of blocks represented the scale of operations and spatial requirements, and the colours represented the various use categories. Students were encouraged to experiment with different combinations of uses and arrangements on the block to represent what their demonstrator projects would look like and how they would function.
Students then presented their models to the room and talked through the outcome and the process that they had undergone to produce the outcome.
“The Living Lab workshops provided the students a classroom located in the area that was being studied. Students were given opportunities to relate ideas learnt in the classroom, to real places, situated within broader urban contexts. Students were able to reinforce key ideas and stories from guest speakers by making direct links to their own observational analysis of streets, urban morphology, engagement with local community, and environmental features.” – Courtney Babb, studio leader.