The Growroom - Sensory Analysis Project

You might have noticed some comfy new cushions recently installed in the Growroom, but these cushions are for more than just comfort.

Alex Morse is a Master of Architecture student currently undertaking his thesis which examines the use of sensory technology to determine how users engage with public spaces.  Using the Growroom as a test case, Alex has installed four cushions with embedded sensors designed to capture the time and duration each individual cushion is in use. By analysing this data, Alex will be able to determine use patterns of the Growroom and gain insight into how people are engaging with the space over time. The sensors are non-identifying to ensure user privacy.

The Growroom is an immersive, spherical garden structure constructed and installed in 2017 as part of a collaborative build by students. The 2.6m meter high, edible garden, currently located on the corner of Swanston and Monash Road, has interior seating, making it an ideal place for students to meet and unwind amongst the foliage. An initiative of the Fair Food Challenge, developed in partnership with the New Student Precinct and IKEA’s SPACE 10 Innovation Lab, this open-sourced project will be a permanent fixture on the Parkville campus.

The data collected through the Growroom test-case project will be used to determine how it's design and use might evolve overtime. Ultimately, Alex hopes the results of his thesis can be extrapolated to consider how user engagement with informal, public spaces might inform large-scale architectural design and urban planning.

Photograph of 2 of the 4 sensor units installed under the seating in the Growroom
Sensor units installed under the seating in the Growroom collect data to anaylse space engagement and utilisation.

As part of his Thesis, Alex has also done extensive work examining how students utilise space for informal study across campus.  The results of the Growroom test case and the broader thesis research will be used to influence the design of the New Student Precinct.

Alex's project is just one example of how students are contributing to the New Student Precinct project, with more Project Stories being added throughout the Project, showcasing the work and contributions of our student collaborators. To find out how you can become a collaborator yourself, contact the New Student Precinct project team.