We can often feel lost and disoriented in Cities looking at our phones for advice. And to add to this issue, I was thinking about people with actual sensory impairments, which continues to grow… And it made me think, where is the physical and social innovation, which reintroduces people to use common sense and create more inclusive places? And how do we move beyond simple accessibility measures and acknowledge the senses of our built environment? And you are probably asking what does any of this have to do with activation and placemaking???
I have recently come across the 7 Senses foundation, which was founded by Landscape Architect, Tobias Volbert and addresses some of my questions. Their philosophy is aimed at creating more inclusive social spaces for people to interact with in meaningful and fun ways. Check out the 7 Senses website at www.7senses.org to learn more about their sensory approach.
Bring the common sense back to our neighbourhoods! I have learnt through Tobias’ presentations and workshops that we can use 7 Senses to create better neighbourhoods, bring community together, create more inclusive spaces and better acknowledge the physical spaces in our environment. Get your community together and ask each other a few questions; What are your favourite tastes you can experience in your neighbourhood? Where are the best smells? Who has the best outdoor games? Can you collaborate with your neighbour and create a movement exercise?
The 7 Senses Foundation have established an annual community 7 senses day, which has spread across Australia with more than 60 events promoted last year. The community event allows people to create a renewed vision for local streets and park design, which can be used to convince decision makers and designers to think carefully about our senses when creating new public spaces. And most importantly, the 7 Senses approach and community street day allows neighbours to meet and hang out with each other, create new relationships and brings people together for a common goal…inclusion.
Last year I worked together with a group of landscape architects, a few photographers and a video director to experience the 7 senses philosophy for myself. We created activities for each of the seven senses, including a balancing course, a sound treasure hunt, photography workshop, a good ol aussie barbeque and so much more. It was great to see people engage with each activity, learn something new and just have fun. We couldn’t help filming each activity and everyone just having a great time. My message to you; get involved and speak to your neighbour about organising a community day.