VITAL SIGNS – Alternative Futures
- Deakin University Students: Jarrod Argent, Tom Barker, Jack Hirini, Julie Pham, Blake Sipek
- Deakin University Staff: Yolanda Esteban, John Rollo, Michael Sharman, Rui Wang
- Subject Matter Experts: Jesse Cardey and Hayley Ince from the City of Greater Geelong Alex Rollo from Geelong Gallery
- Deakin University School of Architecture and Built Environment
- The City of Greater Geelong Planning Strategy Economic Development Smart Cities Geelong Gallery: Geelong Library and Heritage Centre
VITAL SIGNS – Alternative Futures – was developed by five students at the School of Architecture and Built Environment, Deakin University, as a celebration of Geelong’s recent designation as a City of Design within the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.
‘Alternative Futures’ was exhibited as part of the 2019 NGV Design Week in Geelong and presents concepts and ideas in relation to Geelong’s ‘Clever and Creative Future’ as the inner city population has the potential to grow from 1,600 residents in 2019 to 17, 500 by 2050, and up to 35,000 by 2100.
‘Vital Signs’ attained a high level of design excellence by encapsulating 3 different forms of engagement each of which were tailored according to the experiences the students aimed to create through varying representations of alternative design futures.
Modelling a range of population forecasts over an 80 year timeframe, the exhibition comprised an extensive range of mixed media which was digitally captured and presented on a 9 screen display in the Geelong Library and Geelong Gallery. 3D printed models of Geelong’s central area were also generated and displayed with immersive media (AR/VR) which enabled visitors to visually explore new spatial experiences.
Over 14,000 visitors passed through the ‘Vital Signs’ exhibition during the ten days of NGV Design Week in Geelong. Designed to provide a high level of public engagement, the immersive technologies that the team experimented with, regarding the spatial experiences they wanted to convey, helped them to connect people, information and physical/digital spaces in unique ways.
Supported by an interactive digital table presenting Yimmy and Hunter, two children who would be 12 in the year 2100, Vital Signs provided a way for people to reflect on familiar childhood experiences and perhaps connect with a generation beyond their lifetime.
‘Vital Signs’ has been an amazing collaborative design process. Crossing discipline boundaries to workshop future challenges this student led project has indeed been transformative. Students inspire hope, their sincerity invites respect, and their ability to imagine is compelling.
Welcoming all manner of opinions they are natural attractors to draw the best out of subject matter experts and to genuinely engage the community.
While some might say “It’s just student work”, discourse during the exhibition was fresh and exciting, and for many the horizon of understanding and the chance to imagine became just that bit more expansive.
Climate crisis, the dramatic awareness of the impacts of climate change undoubtedly paints a bleak future. If the cup of humanity is presented less than half-full then what does this do to a communities’ imagination? While the need for creative design to mitigate life style choices is essential, our legacy being revealed nonetheless appears grim and dystopian.
The Design Innovation that Vital Signs attempts to stimulate is a collaborative sense of challenge and opportunity, to flick thinking toward the hope of inspiring the next generation of young designers to help create positive change for an adaptive future.
‘Vital signs’ refers to the smart city indicators which many local government authorities are beginning to implement to monitor what the students interpret as being the health of their city and the well-being of the community.
Alternative Futures was not a curriculum based project but was developed specifically as an event for 2019 NGV Design Week in Geelong. Following the exhibition, the Geelong 2050 and 2100 digital models were converted into a full 3D animated visual experience and are now being used to help explore design thinking with secondary school students in various outreach programs.