Haig Park belongs to all of us.

Background

In 2017 the ACT Government began an extensive community engagement strategy to identify perceptions about Haig Park, as well as community aspirations and ideas for improving it in the future. The Haig Park Place Plan was created from this community engagement process.

Haig Park Experiments continues the dialogue with the community through the realisation of a shared community vision for the park as identified in the first two stages of the Haig Park Place Plan. This involves undertaking a series of “short-term experiments and activations” (experiments) and an iterative “monitor and change” process as identified in the place plan.

Heritage

Originally constructed as a shelter belt in the early 1920s, Haig Park was later designated a public park in 1987 and listed on the ACT Heritage Register in 2000 for its significance as a landscape feature. After extensive community consultation, it is clear that Canberrans value the park as an urban green space, citing that its tree plantation is integral to its beauty. The light-touch nature of the Haig Park Experiments protects and embraces the heritage status of the park while trialling ways to improve its amenity and greater use.

Aerial image of Haig Park from 1955, more than 30 years after it was originally published

“In its current state Haig Park is underused, perceived as unsafe and doesn't meet the needs of the Canberra community in 2018 and beyond.”
Malcolm Snow, Chief Executive Officer of City Renewal Authority

Community feedback described Haig Park as "unsafe", "boring", "dark", and "underutilised". Key findings from the 2017 place utilisation study found that most people passed through, instead of using the park, and also almost two-thirds of park users were male. Haig Park Experiments is a unique opportunity to trial improvements and activities with community stakeholders within an evaluation cycle of Propose, Test, Monitor, and Change, to determine their viability for implementation as a long-term improvement.

Some of the desired outcomes include increased diversity and number of park users, increased safety through passive surveillance, improved amenity for activities, and improved public perception. Please refer to individual experiments for specific outcomes.

For more information, download the Haig Park Place Plan.

Haig Park Experiments – An invitation to Canberra

Haig Park belongs to all of us. It is our city’s backyard and a symbol of the Canberra community – a community that shares.

It is widely felt by locals and visitors that the park is brimming with untapped potential. Building upon the Haig Park Place Plan, the experiments seek to tap into that potential by inspiring the city to reconnect, take stewardship of the park’s development, and share in its growth. Our approach to the project is about embracing instead of modifying the ‘urban forest’ character of the park.

To know where the park is headed, we need to know where the park has come from. And so, Haig Park Experiments respects and acknowledges the park’s First Nations People custodianship and connection to Country, taking steps towards meaningful reconciliation through the way it can be used. The park’s well-recognised heritage status and value also underscores the diverse experiments program.

To reconnect Canberra with Haig Park, it will not be enough to simply hold large short-lived events to attract big crowds, especially when the events could easily have been held anywhere else. This program of experiments explores a variety of temporary improvements and activities to create meaningful connections to the park for surrounding residents and Canberrans. The results of this project will ultimately inform the permanent upgrades scheduled in the third and final stage of the Haig Park Place Plan. Light-touch improvements do not mean low visitor experience impact but, in many cases, locally focused and high impact for those who already engage with Haig Park (or are very close to).

Let’s branch out and embrace our city’s backyard – Haig Park.

Project team

The City Renewal Authority has appointed a University of Canberra led consortium, which includes Tait Network, Ainslie and Gorman Arts Centres, and Dionysus, to implement Haig Park Experiments - a range of events, activities and light-touch park improvements that could be made permanent if successful.

In developing and delivering the program, the consortium draws on the expertise and support of a knowledgeable advisory committee, community coalition, and the City Renewal Authority and the wider ACT Government.

The City Renewal Authority is charged with shaping the growth of the central parts of Canberra to make it a great place to live, explore and enjoy. In partnership with the community, the City Renewal Authority aims to create a vibrant city heart through the delivery of design-led urban renewal with a focus on social and environmental sustainability.

University of Canberra
The University of Canberra is the nation’s ‘Capital’ university ranked in the top two per cent of universities worldwide (Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2018), and among the top 100 universities in the world under the age of 50. The University operates as a powerful engine of economic development, social wellbeing, creative thought and public discourse in the ACT, and works with government, business and industry to serve our communities.

Tait Network
Tait Network is a leading design practice that has been improving quality of life through the built environment for almost 30 years. Tait Network undertake all aspects of the project management, urban design, landscape architecture, planning and architectural roles across all phases from conception to construction documentation, procurement and management.

Ainslie and Gorman Arts Centres
Ainslie and Gorman Arts Centres is an independent not-for-profit arts organisation that offers rich opportunities to create, present and enjoy art, to network and collaborate, to teach and learn, and to foster critical discussion and the meeting of creative minds. Their aim is to cultivate inspiring places for these creative encounters to happen.

Dionysus
Dionysus is a key local stakeholder in the design and management of the city’s cultural events. Dionysus provides advice and strategies for high-impact organisations to support Canberra’s cultural fabric and the development of a unique cultural identity. The objective is a more intimate city with expanded cultural horizons.

Program structure

Haig Park Experiments will take place from June to October 2019. Select projects will be created through a co-design process and the majority of projects will be designed to enable community engagement and capacity building.

The program can be loosely grouped into three overlapping phases:

Welcome

Invites new and past users back into Haig Park by refreshing key areas of the park’s infrastructure, supported by playful small-scale activities. (Early June – mid-July)

Discover

Encourages new types of participation in Haig Park through larger-scale infrastructure experiments such as a temporary events pavilion, nature play activities, and events that inspire Canberrans to rediscover the seasonal beauty of winter. (Early July – early September)

Celebrate

Continues to build upon the work of the previous two phases with large event experiments which coincide with the arrival of the warmer months. (Early September – mid-October)