As part of our Experience Design Studio organized in collaboration with the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, students from the Experience Design BA program at Northeastern University investigated people’s experience of the Emerald Necklace public park network. Based on a series of on-site inter- views and observational studies students developed design interventions with the goal to positively enhance people’s everyday experience in and around the parks.
The large network of the public green spaces that form the Emerald Necklace extends over more than 7 miles from the Boston Commons to Franklin Park and provides the context for rich flora, fauna, as well as a place for a wide variety of activities for Boston’s residents and visi- tors. Unlike most urban environments, public parks are peculiar in a number of ways: They are not dedicated to any specific purpose. Instead, they are open to an ongo- ing process of reinvention by the public. These spaces can be flexibly appropriated for relaxation, play, work, study, sports, socializing, art practice, events, etc.
The untethering of information technologies for work, performance, etc. and the flexible provisioning of energy (photovoltaics, batteries, etc.) has further increased the range of activities and functionalities of urban green spaces. The characteristics of public green spaces and their possible uses change significantly with time of day (day/night), weather conditions and seasonality. The issue of boundary and proximity is of particular interest as people tend to seek public green spaces both for their proximity to the city (work/home/etc.) as well as for their—perceived—distance from it.
In many ways parks intend to bring an idea of nature into the city as well as keeping this idea of nature distinct from the city – contributing to the complication of no- tions of natural/artificial and wild/domesticated. It is a play on proximities and boundaries, of access and avail- ability both in physical and geographical as well as meta- phorical and perceived terms.
The semester long studio looked at public parks as places of possibility, participation and co-creation; places of destination and of escape; places for encounter; places of proximity and of distance; places for dynamic appropria- tion where meaning is constantly negotiated. Projecrts proposed by the students are material as well as digital, orchestrating objects, services, information systems, am- bient installations and events. The presented projects provide a glimpse of new possibilities to reimagine the experience of public parks in cities.
Experience Design 1 Studio
Professor Kristian Kloeckl
Students Julia Janigian, Win Overholser, Audrey Zecha, Jacqueline Garruto, Madisen Hackley,
Thiago Zilberknop, Kevin Casas, Andrew Ferguson, Maggie Zhang, Brenna Sorkin, Yasmeen Al Idrissi