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The research-led studio aims to speculate on how we might harness humanity’s collective power to forge, fortify, and adapt our built environments for a brighter future in a sensitive way. My project ‘Aware When Away’ focuses on creating social change through education, awareness, and preparation in response to the issues evident in past bushfires specifically the 2019 and 2020 fires. Through research, it was clear that tourists are vulnerable during bushfires and tensions emerge between locals and non-locals during a state of emergency. Through my three-part educational campaign, tourists would become prepared and more sensitive towards locals during emergencies. The project critically goes beyond typical architectural responses to disaster and rethinks and challenges the role of architects in disaster zones. This is done through a holistic system approach by designing a campaign that consists of small-scale spatial interventions, a supply kit, and a website.


The outcome is cross-disciplinary in nature (product design, web design, architecture) and situates within the physical and digital environments. Whilst the campaign is cross-disciplinary, the final drawings are as well, combining digital video, web content, architectural drawings, and mapping. Learning from the paired studies unit, re-framing the role of the architect, and how we can use our tools in other non-typical ways has heavily influenced my project. I think by understanding this, I have attempted to create a proposition which is about trying to achieve the best possible way to resolve the wicked problem and issues identified and acknowledging this may not always be through large scale architecture. Some installations also deal with the idea of participatory practice and whilst due to COVID the projects couldn’t operate in this way, the installation of the soundscape along with the website has room to suggest locals would be involved (if wanted to) for the development of a mural, and a local podcast (in real life). 


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My wicked problem is that the Anthropocene is causing warming climate, with fires seasons becoming longer and days of significant fire danger more frequent. This creates growing tensions between recovery and preparation, staying and leaving, and locals and non-locals. 
In Gippsland, temperatures are expected to rise by 1.2 degrees Celsius and rainfall is expected to decrease by an average of 15% by 2039. This means there is going to be more drought, hotter days and less opportunity for cool burning. The fire season in Gippsland is expected to increase by an average of 32% per year. 

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I acknowledge I am an outsider and most of my knowledge comes from media and reading. However, last year I did have a small encounter with bush fires as I received a warning to watch and act.  At this time, I had no fire plan or preparation. This experience has led me to be interested in the notion that ‘we don’t prepare until we are affected’. Hence, I have adapted a tourist’s lens focusing on their vulnerabilities due to a lack of preparation plans, awareness and knowledge.

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In East Gippsland tourism supports an estimated 1600 jobs equating to 9.8% of total employment. Over 50 % of visitors come from within Victoria and the people are mostly couples, families or family friends. 

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I have identified four-key interconnected lenses in relation to emergency and tourists. The first is the population influx that occurs at intersection of the holiday and fire season. Secondly local attitudes. This includes the casualness and lack of sensitivity by tourists towards locals which causes tensions and frustrations. For example, a local of Lakes Entrance posted on social media “So fires broken out just outside of lakes entrance now so we moved closer to access the beach if we have to. Plenty of tourists having a swim and jet skis out and about. Don’t let a disaster ruin your holiday “. Thirdly The tourism industry. Specifically, the economic downfall post bushfire. Finally, the role of tourists in recovery and the way in which tourists can be used to aid local resilience. 

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From research both Lakes Entrance and Mallacoota’s largest industry is tourism and accommodation/ services. I have selected to look into Lakes Entrance because of the extreme population influx of 26,000 people during the fire season. Lakes Entrance regular population is approximately 4,800 people. Whilst the coping capacity and disaster resilience numbers are moderate, the population influx makes the community very vulnerable during an emergency. 

The small number of main roads in and out of Lakes Entrance and East Gippsland is problematic for evacuation procedures. Access becomes a serious issue when there are tens of thousands of people trying to leave an area at risk. This was evident during 2020 bushfires. 

In conjunction with fire danger, flooding is another emergency condition important to be acknowledged within Lakes Entrance. 
As shown, the higher density infrastructure situated along the lakes area is at risk of flooding with the maps showing a 1 in 20-year and 1 in 50-year flood. 

With regard to zoning, the majority of Lakes Entrance tourism area and the commercial town center is located by the along coast. Medium density residential areas are slightly more inland and situated along the North Arm. Farming and rural residential occurs further north inland.

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The experience of tourists and locals are explored through a spectrum of interaction using key places throughout the town. 
I am interested in the centered areas where both communities engaging.


In the fire/holiday season, there is a large temporary influx in population which causes tensions between locals and tourists during an emergency. How might we increase tourist’s and the general public’s education/awareness of fire, encourage and support preparation, and utilize tourism to aid local resilience?

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This process of using the IDEO design kit tools  
was a critical part of the development from research into proposition phase and will continue to be guiding points to ensure my project successfully responds to the problem identified. 





In the fire/holiday season, there is a large temporary influx in population which causes tensions between locals and tourists during an emergency. How might we increase tourist’s  awareness, education of fire, and encourage and support preparation?
The proposal is a 3-part educational campaign named ‘Aware When Away’ which seeks to educate and prepare non-locals about fire, bring awareness, sensitivity and adaptability to those entering Lakes Entrance. The campaign merges both the digital and physical worlds through a series of interactive interventions in town, an educational website and a supply kit. I have identified three scales through my proposition in Lakes Entrance. I recognise the scalability of my project to be applied to other tourist towns who are at threat of emergency such as Mallacoota and Cairns




1.    Lakes Entrance Beach (interactive awareness)
2.    Riviera Ice-cream (interactive awareness )
3.    Main footbridge (interactive awareness)
4.    Foreshore market space (interactive awareness)
5.    Online website (educational preparedness)
6.    Social media  (online awareness)
7.    Accommodation services (supply kits).



Part one of the campaign is a series of interventions which aim to bring awareness to non-locals about bushfire risk. The installations are located at popular tourist sites, including The Beach, The Foreshore Market, The local Ice-Cream Shop and The Main Footbridge.
The Beach includes a reflective interactive installation which targets visitors aged 18 and over to consider their own personal answer to the question, what would you pack? Visitors may begin to become aware of potential risk as well as Evoking an emotional response through the active participation of writing on the reflection wall. Regarding its positioning, the intervention creates a multi hazard relationship with the existing lifesaving tower. As well as this, the form of the interactive wall, aims to create small pockets of individual reflection as well as communal collaboration.



The second installation at The Ice-Cream Shop, is a small-scale prompt targeting families and adults to consider “how prepared are you?”. The process of placing rubbish in the bin now is transformed into a small activity that raises awareness about the need to have a fire plan. As with all the interventions, a QR code is attached to the intervention 
to direct the audience towards informing themselves on ‘Aware When Away website’. The intervention bridges the connection between consumption and climate change. Waste disposal, specifically at ice-cream shops with the use of single-use plastics is contributing to the notion of the anthropocene causing global warming, therefore more frequent and more intense fires.



The third installation is transforming the existing Footbridge into a soundscape. The soundscape journey from The Town to Beach or Beach to Town creates a 4-5-minute multi-sensory experience Locals use the bridge as 
a platform to express stories, in conjunction with a series of quotes from the ‘listen local podcast’ as a mural along the walk. Moreover, the audio is a combination of locals sharing stories from the ‘listen local podcast’ and advice on preparing for bushfires. There is also a smoke installation which would only operate within specific hours outlined in the warning. This aims to create awareness through the atmosphere of the conditions experienced during bushfires for non-locals. I have chosen for this component to only operate and be installed over the holiday period and at specific and limited times so locals can avoid the area. There are also safety warnings and procedures near both entrances. The installation also has a bright yellow floating platform which is an extension of the foreshore to experience the smoke from below. This is in the bright yellow theme of the campaign.

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The last installation is a foreshore educational play space targeting kids. The Foreshore is mostly used for popular markets and festivals therefore locating the intervention on this site uses the existing traffic from events to engage kids and families. In the site plan shown, there are a series of zones for various activities such as art, reading, and bushfire games. The structure is a series of portable and stackable fire-retardant timber blocks that can be set up over summer for tourists and removed over winter when not in use. Importantly, information and images are integrated into these familiar games to both raise awareness and educate kids. 




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The second part of the educational campaign is a website called ‘Aware When Away’. The website is tailored towards non-locals who are visiting Lakes Entrance specifically. The website features a ‘listen local’ podcast, a questionnaire to prepare non-locals, information about Lakes Entrance and bushfires as well as a link to an Instagram social media campaign.

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The final component of the campaign is 
an educational supply kit. The kit is found in all accommodation services and aims 
to prepare non-locals for an emergency in Lakes Entrance. The kit contains supplies 
as well as a map of where to go during an emergency in Lakes Entrance, emergency contacts, an emergency plan, a questionnaire, general information about the location of Lakes Entrance in relation to East Gippsland, and descriptions of how to use the contents during an emergency. The kit focuses on the multi-hazard nature of Lakes Entrance with information about both fires and floods and contents for both emergencies. 
The design opens in various ways to ensure the user is reading information before using contents as well as ensuring all information can be viewed at once.  
I have named the supply educational kit AWA, creating a persona for the carry kit, as well as it is standing for the name of the campaign ‘Aware When Away’. The bright yellow is a continuous theme throughout the graphic design of both the kit and the website to gain the attention of users without a sense of emergency alarm.

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