People experience public spaces in vastly different ways through a diverse range of sensory inputs and outputs. This may be a pleasant or disagreeable experience depending on a person's ability to process and respond to information received through their senses. To address disparities in the way people interact with their surrounding natural and built environments, sensory urban design is now emerging as an innovative framework underpinning the development of inclusive urban spaces. As the concept is in its infancy, there are few methodological approaches available to support the design of appropriate sensory urban spaces. The purpose of this research is to propose a methodology to support sensory urban design; in doing so, a sociotechnical systems analysis of the 'ideal' sensory public space. This involved the construction of a Work Domain Analysis, the first phase of a systems analysis approach, Cognitive Work Analysis. In addition, researchers from the urban planning and design theme within the Centre for Human Factors and Sociotechnical Systems collaborated with USC’s Regional and Urban Planning program and The 7 Senses Foundation to develop an optimal sensory public space design. The analysis incorporates key sensory design elements to build an in-depth and integrated understanding of the potential for public space to become more accessible, engaging and inclusive, ultimately providing an optimum sensory experience for users. The model is subsequently applied to two existing public space domains to assess the impact of a holistic sensory design approach, one on the Sunshine Coast, and the other in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Key findings of this study illustrate the importance of integrating sensory design elements into public spaces to achieve increased levels of sensory affordance for all users, regardless of ability.
2015 University Research Conference: Integrate, Innovate, Inspire, Sunshine Coast, Australia 13-16 July 2015