What’s it all about?



A sense of human scale

What makes a place?

Why is it important?

What are the social and economic benefits of place?

Hopefully from previous research and future investigation I will be able to start to answer these questions and more. Not always following the obvious routes, I will be looking at cognitive bias, memory, self interest, fear as well as spacial effects of mass and void, the senses, time, evolution of a space.


“How do we make a place where people want to be?”


New towns, regeneration of old cities and retro fitting in new cites, all are pointing to the realisation that green space, malls and public transport are only part of the answer, albeit in the right direction. How do we make a place where people want to be?

Post race meeting in a car park

A corner of a car park for a brief time becomes a place. Scale, shade, food, people watching people,  seating (150mm high kerb), a common reason. The comments when asked were;

  • its feels right
  • comfortable
  • cosy

All the elements were there no sense of flight (fear), enough routes to escape, but enough enclosure to feel secure. A corner, so we can look out and our backs are protected, like being on the back seat of a coach.

“all add up to a sense of ease”


Food, always a key element


Absolute must reads for park and urban design!

The Social life of small Urban Places

The Movie

The film quality of the movie at the start is rather poor, but stick with it, as it’s about the content.

Made in 1980 so some amusement can be gained from the conservative fashion, but the main point is the simplicity of how humans react in public space and what makes a space successful or not.
Note; at the end of the film recommendations are made to the New York City planning control. The effects can been seen today, think of how many areas have movable chairs and how the atmosphere of the city has changed from many complete no go areas, to a city that now feels much safer, at ease and sittable!

“The present issue (as with all popular cities) is ‘gentrification’ when regeneration arrives”

The present issue (as with all popular cities) is gentrification, the meat-packing district has been changed by the High Line Park which is great, but the lower paid workers who service the area are being pushed out by unregulated high rents, all cause and effect. So what ever we do as designers/planners we have to always look to the bigger picture, build a frame-work for flexibility so area can evolve without expensive re-builds and social cleansing.

High Line: A Quick Overview from Grant Beerling on Vimeo.

“I so love this little film, Holly Whyte’s voice reminds me of my wise grandparents, thoughtful, never rushing a sentence, understanding the power of a pause and the simple profound observations of the world around them.”


Some Books,Absolutely must be on your shelf

The Social life of small Urban Places

Author William H Whyte


A good review blog of the book. An essential for anyone who wants to understand Why some one would possibly want to visit and stay in your local park….Ignore this book at your peril. Based most of my final degree design on his proven observations

“A park without people is a field”


The Wit and Wisdom of Holly Whyte 

Gathered by Albert LaFarge 

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