Essense: a sensory garden

A community effort to transform a dump yard into an immersive space for all


8 weeks, August - October 2017

Project Type

Landscape architecture




Collaborative Effort


A sensory space for reflection

The project brief for ANDC 2017-18 called for a hands-on, real-life intervention in a neglected place to catalyze its transformation into a space emanating positive impact through architecture and design.

The site

The site chosen was a 2-acre dilapidated dumping yard in Noida, India. It had the potential to impact people across various socio-economic status and age groups due to its location in a well-connected, diverse neighbourhood.

Scope, timeline, and my role

Akshita Verma (co-executor), Badal Kalra (co-executor), Mohd. Salim ( lead 3D visualizer), Mohd. Fauzan Mirza (3D visualizer), and me (the ideator)

Scope, timeline, and my role

I worked as a freelance UX/UI designer, involved from the inception of the design phase - including conducting user research, mapping out problems, and delivering the final UI designs (10-15 screens) - till the hand off for development.

View Final Solution


Gaining insights to weed out issues


The aim of the research was to understand the needs and pain points of the people impacted by the site. We conducted house-to-house user interviews to understand the individual problems faced by residents living in the immediate vicinity, and workshops and surveys with the Residents’ Welfare Organization (RWA) to understand the needs of the floating population and the sector.

Interactions with the residents revealed the issues faced due to insects, mosquitoes and snakes due the tall, wild grass as well as lack of proper parking provisions in the area and the sessions with the RWA uncovered the need for space for playing group sports and games like cricket, fetch, etc. for kids. We also observed the lack of interaction and sense of community amongst the residents.


Carving out a niche in a saturated market

After conducting user interviews, all the participants responses were synthesized to identity themes, opportunities, and features that YUM could focus and improve upon.

Affinity Map

An affinity map was created to identify high level themes and group similar insights gained from the user interviews.

Interview Synthesis

Using the four hues of the SimpleStage identity as a starting point, I expanded the color palette to accommodate the needs of the platform’s complex dashboard system.


Personas were built based on the data collected to help drive decision-making and keep the product focused on solving users' pain points, frustrations, and goals.


Weaving a better experience

To kick-off the design process, quick sketches helped me get ideas on paper to establish which elements were necessary for each screen. A low fidelity prototype was then created for initial user testing.

User Flow

The primary user flow is the process of searching, saving and sharing with friends.

Site Map

Koshish's simple information structure makes it easy to navigate and move through tasks.


Rough sketches were done to get my initial thoughts on paper and brainstorm new ideas for specific UI elements.

Low-Fidelity Prototypes

Using the feedback and insights gained from research, analysis and sketching, a how-fidelity prototype was created to begin user testing.

Usability Study

A usability study was conducted to determine where improvements could be made and identify new ideas to satisfy user expectations, needs, and desires.

Pain Points

Source of restaurant review was unclear


Quick save option not available, had to specify which list to save to


Emphasis on photos made it difficult to find type of food and restaurant ratings

New Ideas

Use color to differentiate YUM's suggestions from a users saved restaurants


Remove multi-step process to find social icons and make immediately visible


Add a moment of delight to let the user know a restaurant was saved


Planting a better experience

Vision for the Sensory Garden

Increase community involvement and accountability by including them in the transformation of space

Promote and support interaction amongst people through big shaded spaces like gazebos to allow for congregations, etc.

Promote and support interaction of users with the environment by introducing interactive elements to harness the senses - like the percussion wall of the acoustic zone, sensory path of the tactile zone, colour wheel of the visual zone, deciduous trees and plants of the olfactory and gustatory zones, etc.


Initiating the metamorphosis

The process of transformation

We mobilised the community to become a part of the execution and together we removed weeds, shrubs and waste from site and erected and painted bamboo poles for lighting and fencing. The team conducted a green drive in which students from nearby school came to plant trees. We constructed pathways and the out-of-waste sensory elements. On 15th August 2017, Independence Day, the Sensory Garden was successfully launched and had a footfall of over 120 people in the first week.

The final result

Growing from the takeaways

My learnings

As budding architects, we wished to execute an ambitious never-seen-before transformation. We erected high-maintenance sensory elements which were not self-sustainable and hence, today after 4 years of execution, some of them do not exist at the site. The residents and the RWA have maintained the trees, pathways and the parking is well-used. This project taught me that it’s important for the solution to be built around usefulness, value and ease of maintenance.

However, it also taught me about the profound impact that design can have on a community. The neighbors who never knew each other became friends through shared accountability. To contribute to the transformation, even students from nearby schools joined the effort and chipped in through participation, ideas and encouragement.


A focus on simplicity

Inspiration was drawn from fine dining restaurants with a focus on minimal yet functional simplicity. The UI design reflects the user's desire to have a clutter free, curated look and feel.

Typography & Color


A highly curated experience

YUM makes the process of finding a restaurant, saving it for later, and sharing it with friends simple and engaging. It connects people to a social network of fellow foodies and only suggests restaurants that match up with each user's preferences and positively reviewed and rated dining experiences.

Sign In

Intro screen and onboarding


Users land on the map screen after signing in and when opening the app, making searches quick and easy.


After finding a restaurant, users can then save it and add it to as many lists as they'd like


After saving they can share it with their friends or friend groups

Social Feed

Users can follow friends and read their reviews or write a review and share pictures of their own dining experiences

Profile & Lists

Profiles feature a recommendation section where users can add their top rated spots


YUM recommends restaurants based on a users location, friends, saved restaurants, and their positive posts and reviews.

Problems Solved

Integrates all needs into one streamlined experience


Suggests more personalized restaurant recommendations


Supports social connection and engagement


Saves favorites for quick reference later


Gives users more flexibility to create specialized lists


Provides a source of reputable reviews from trusted friends and influencers

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