Greening the cities of tomorrow

Enriching environment & sustainability

In the face of climate change, when it comes to greening cities it’s essential to know which plants are the most resilient in our increasingly harsh climate. Circul8 worked with a project team of researchers, government agencies, industry partners and nursery growers to design and develop an online tool for horticulturalists, city planners and architects to design green spaces that last.

The Which Plant Where project team have been working over the past 5 years to develop tools and resources for optimal plant selection for urban green spaces across Australia. The project involved assessing over 2,600 plant species against future climate scenarios across Australia, resulting in the first comprehensive climate-ready plant selector tool in the world. Their work has culminated in the new Which Plant Where website – an online plant directory for councils and urban developers to create healthy, resilient urban green spaces across Australia. We worked with the project team to build this from the ground up and here is how we tackled it.

Unearthing the real issue

Without the knowledge of which plants are resilient enough to withstand the impacts of inevitable climate change, Urban Landscapers and Councils were exposed to making costly and unsustainable plant choices. A centralised localised plant directory was required to inform their work.

Seeding the solution

The online plant selector tool provides a directory of 2,600+ resilient plants. It also provides a range of resources to inform urban landscaping projects and further best practice species selection to create diverse and resilient urban green spaces.

This comprehensive database is backed by an algorithm developed by Macquarie University which uses climate modelling to predict plant suitability in a postcode over the next 50 years. The subscription based service allows users to search by species or postcode, create plant palettes and share their designs with others.

A grounded innovative approach

An intensive 2-week Design Sprint identified the best way to provide true value to the users of the plant selector tool in the context of their existing work practices. Rather than spending months creating something based on what we think users want, we tested prototyped concepts – providing focus and clarity of direction for the project. 

The sprint resulted in a solid launching pad for the project with a clickable prototype, engagement with end-users to build advocacy and alignment with stakeholders and partners. Users remained at the heart of the project through ongoing user research and testing to ensure their needs and experience were incorporated into the design.

Which Plant Where is funded by the Hort Frontiers Green Cities Fund, part of the Hort Frontiers strategic partnership initiative developed by Hort Innovation, with co-investment from Macquarie University, Western Sydney University and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and contributions from the Australian Government.

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