Co-designing with Alice Springs community

For many years our team has specialised in collaborative design workshops with communities, to envision the future for our town centres and public spaces. And this approach has taken us to some fantastic places around Australia!

In early October, Michael and Reb facilitated a three-day co-design workshop in the heart of Alice Springs to identify ideas, visions and concepts for Todd Mall, Leichhardt Terrace and surrounding areas of the town centre.

People discussing around a table

“This is a challenging project, with strong opinions about the future of the Mall in particular, so we had to make sure we included business owners, community members, stakeholders and council directly in the conversation,” says Michael McKeown, Jensen PLUS Director.

The workshop was divided into 13 themed sessions — from art and culture to youth needs, main street governance and marketing — with up to 30 people attending each one. Two pop-up displays in Todd Mall drew in shoppers and visitors too.

“We included as many locals as we could by having many opportunities to get involved and as a result we gained huge insights about local values and knowledge.

“People shared and explored big ideas, and provided feedback on the team’s analysis and progress as we went along.”

Regeneration of the local environment was a focus on day one.

“We looked at opportunities for more green space, options for a shadier pedestrian mall as well as a shared street design option, with improvements to amenities located within these areas, such as street furniture and play spaces.

“Cycling, public safety, accessibility and spaces for community events and gatherings were also hot topics for discussion.”

Following the engagement sessions on day one, the team then got together to synthesise the workshop ideas into different concepts to enable comparison and discussion with Elected Members at the end of the day.

“The early concepts were also placed on display for the following two days and generated a lot of valuable discussion and feedback.”

Day two started with a well-attended business breakfast where team member David West presented the results of his business needs survey and ‘Retail Report Card’.

“Later in the afternoon we also held a street walk along Todd Mall with locals — the people who are running businesses, visiting and in some cases living in the street every day.

Group of people standing in a street

“It’s always interesting to talk about street design elements out in the open and hear the stories about successful events in the Mall, what’s under the pavers, and also some of the traffic issues that emerge from time to time.”

On day three, the project team delivered a final presentation of the workshop outcomes, with some reworked visualisations by landscape architect Brian who worked remotely from the office to generate the 3D visuals just in time for the presentation!

“We’re now moving into stage two of the project which will include draft concept designs over the coming weeks with more consultation expected in early 2024,” says Michael.

Read more in our previous article Regenerating the Alice Town Centre.

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