As human, we are usually affected by subjective and objective factors in the formation of thoughts and opinions, which can create blind spots in our judgments. So, to children, the task of designing a country park for the general public, undoubtedly sounds like a search for a needle in a haystack.
To be enlightened like a designer, we can actually start with observing and reflecting. This is in fact the first step in a design process. Before diving into country park design, how should children observe, and evoke feelings?
In preparation for the Playful Public Design (PPD) project, we invited PolyU School of Design Public Design Lab’s Associate Lab Leader, Dr. Paul Lo, and then Research Fellow, Dr. Elaine Wong, to conduct staff training sessions on research methods in February and March 2019.
There are three levels of observation and feeling techniques – seeing, sensing and feeling.
- “Seeing” – Activate one’s full senses to notice specific elements, such as listening to the wind, touching stones, etc.
- “Sensing” – Then form connections between these elements/activities/objects/users, and the environment, such as children/wind/flying kites – This is a group of multiple elements.
- “Feeling” – Using empathy / putting oneself in someone’s shoes – reflect on the relationships among different groups of elements, and evaluate whether they are actually useful for the users, or need to be improved. For example, when children and elderlies use the same public facility, is the space inclusive or not?
Sensations and feelings may sound like abstract ideas to children or adults, yet senses allow us to feel, and feelings allow us to come up with good designs. This learning experience has expanded our horizons and opened our minds for what’s to come.
Our team visited Shing Mun Country Park