12 March 2019

First look at the Woden Experiment

| Emma Davidson
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Foreground shows colourful table and chair, mid ground shows a bright blue children's rope spider toy and wooden sun lounges on grass, background shows teenage boys skateboarding and talking on a small stage next to a demountable building with overhead lights that are not on because it's a sunny day.

People are already finding the Woden town square more fun to hang out in. File photos.

For people living in Woden, the past few years have seen a disappointing reduction in the number of public recreational spaces outside of commercial businesses. But the promise of the Woden Experiment has renewed optimism that we may see some regeneration of activity around the town square.

Opened on Wednesday 6 March, the Woden Experiment will run for six months. It includes “zones” for different activities, such as work, social, and a community square.

Visiting the revamped town square on Wednesday night, the result gives a great first impression. The street furniture includes chairs and tables with built-in wireless phone chargers. I tried one myself, and got an extra 7 per cent on my battery while having a relaxing ten-minute rest break. There are also sun lounges on patches of grass, and lots of additional shade from new trees.

The blue rope net play areas were already attracting pre-school aged kids, being low to the ground and horizontal. There’s also a nature play area with stone blocks and logs that look likely to inspire some creative play.

Pink chalk art on the ground in front of a blue metal ping pong table.

Chalk art has started to appear on the ground around the Woden Experiment, adding colour and imagination.

Black and white chalk art resembling tiles showing through a crack in the ground.

File photo.

Older kids and adults should start packing a ping pong ball and paddle in their backpack to take advantage of the blue metal ping pong table nearby.

I’m not sure what the demountable rooms will be used for – they don’t look suitable for food vendors who may need a sink or grease-trap. But they could be helpful for community groups wanting to book the space to run events in the square. There’s also a small stage area with lights strung overhead that looks like it will be a good spot for buskers, speeches, or community information displays.

Foreground shows bright colourful metal table and chairs, wooden picnic table, middle ground shows bright blue spider rope childrens play equipment, background shows shady trees over picnic tables.

The extra shade trees will provide additional cover during midday lunch breaks on hot days.

Visiting again on the weekend when most of the shops in the mall were closed, the town square was providing a pleasant mix of sunshine and shade for mums with small children, teenagers with skateboards, and older adults reading.

Community groups are already talking about ways they can make use of the space to bring people together. Hopefully, this will result in as many features as possible becoming permanent once the experiment is over. In particular, the potted trees should be planted in the ground and well cared for. The extra shade and wind protection will be appreciated by people spending time in the town square, and will help reduce the heat sink effect in a town centre that had become more of a concrete jungle in recent years.

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Is there a public toilet ?

Capital Retro6:03 pm 14 Mar 19

I think the last “experiment” like this was the million dollar plus “Westside Container Village” and we all know how that ended.

This government continually finds new ways to waste borrowed money. Yes, I said borrowed because that’s where public servant wages are coming from at the moment.

How about putting in a fitness station?

This is great stuff. Long overdue. Hopefully some ACT Government investment will lure private entrepreneurs back into the area.

So sad to see the disappearance of the Basketball centre, ten pin bowling centre, TAFE, short course Golf, Youth centre etc.

Next stop something similar for Tuggeranong. The Anketell upgrades were really just replacements of dead trees, broken retaining walls and damaged seating.

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