Re-orientating the Experience of a Small Town
An experience by definition can imply that it leaves an impression. It can be how people experience our small towns that influence its viability and success. Small towns in Aotearoa face aging populations, growing social issues and tend to lack economic viability. Current statistics show population growth in our large cities and declining populations in our regions impacting the urban landscape and the experience of our regional towns. So, how can designing from an experiential approach make a difference to town life? A traditional approach to changing the experience of towns and cities is through consultation, a production of a master plan and then staging the design over time. Consider what could be gained if we used on-the-ground experience to inform the structure our towns? If we intensely engage with the ‘on the ground experience’ of the town, looking at how the town structures experience, we should be able to identify opportunities that could re-orientate how people interact with the town. These opportunities or potential design alterations, could reshape the way that the town is structured and therefore inform the development of a master plan or long term plan. Through an experience-based design approach the opportunities that can be identified from this method are often not visible from other techniques such as top down mapping and other common forms of data collection. Through a combination of; an understanding of the experience of the town, its history, influences, though various forms of mapping and the understanding the viability of proposed design alterations we could strategically transform the experience. Therefore, through an experiential design approach and understanding how our small towns work in Aotearoa; can we focus design actions in the public environment to develop potential future change?