Posted by Yvonne on 18.05.2015


The Shaping Behaviour Salon took place last Tuesday evening at the RMIT Design Hub, as part of the Melbourne International Design week that ran from 11 to 17 May.

Featuring leading voices from Melbourne based design studios SJB Urban, Arup, ID/Lab and Morris Access Consulting, the Shaping Behaviour Salon examined how designers influence and change people’s behaviour in built environments. RMIT graciously hosted the event at the new Design Hub.

We were excited to see the event sell out with close to 200 people attending. It was a fine mixture of clients, newcomers, students, graduates and colleagues.

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The event commenced with MC and panel moderator, Andrew Wisdom, explaining the flow for the evening and introducing the speakers.

Nick Morris kicked off the presentations with a look at Universal Design: a platform that looks at ‘Design for All’, not just the less abled. After a car accident dramatically changed Nick’s life, leaving him in a wheelchair, it was inspiring to hear how he turned his negative experience into a positive, becoming a gold medal winner at the Paralympics in Atlanta in 1996. Nick is now an accessibility advisor promoting Universal Design worldwide. Morris Access Consulting shapes environments for everyone, including the elderly, mothers with strollers, and people with disabilities. He advocates that ‘Disability is NOT marketable, Accessibility is!’

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Chris Thorpe from ID/Lab captivated all with a look into Wayfinding vs Wayshowing. He stressed the importance of designing for users’ experiences, before catering to building operations and aesthetics. Chris discussed the success of this strategy by talking the audience through some of ID/Lab’s latest projects. A recent Graphic Design graduate summed his talk up nicely with an email, writing, “I attended the Shaping Behaviour Salon last night and just wanted to say thanks for a great and engaging presentation. I found your discussion of wayfinding & wayshowing really insightful, and it was fascinating to get a glimpse into the strategy and research which underpins your work and approach.  All the speakers were great and I really enjoyed the event.”

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When it was Paul Stanley’s turn from Arup,he showed the audience some interesting models that looked at circulation flows at Southern Cross Station, where Arup were engaged to improve the pathways for people using the space, and attending events at the nearby Etihad Stadium. His talk explained how Arup shape events, activation and vertical transport through environments. Next up Arup will be looking at quantifying the senses.

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Simon McPherson from SJB Urban finished the presentations by helping us understand the pedestrian experience of movement through a place and how the quality of a place influences pedestrian behaviour. He showed examples of SJB Urban’s work at Footscray Station and Sunshine Station, and discussed their new application, Home:Life, which will allow people to find their best housing option based on measuring factors affecting their individual circumstances.

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The presentations were then followed by a panel discussion, where some great questions from the audience encouraged some insightful dialogue. Based on the feedback received, everyone really enjoyed the Shaping Behaviour talks and will now look at their surroundings with a more informed set of eyes.

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The discussion continued on at Workshop, where the speakers enjoyed some well earned drinks with members of the audience.

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A great thank you to all of the speakers, organisers and Marius Foley from RMIT for hosting the event. A special thank you to all who attended the event.