Valuable evidence based research about the sociability of current housing design.
In advance of publishing a full report later in 2016 Dinah Borat of ZCD Architects has published a summary of research into the sociability of stress and public spaces in housing design in the Architects Journal. This offers findings from studies of six 20th Century Estates in Hackney and a further 10 recent schemes across England. The study recorded activity in the streets and public spaces of housing developments over twenty-four hours over two days. This used Jan Gehl’s categories of activity; necessary, optional and social – also recording the gender and age of people and the numbers talking or playing together at any time.
The research starts to identify how the streets and public spaces provided, function in terms of their accessibility and describes their success in supporting activity to understand how well ‘social activity, children’s independent activity and their extended use of space’ is supported. The research identifies the need for supervised spaces near the home as well as the ability for older children to move about safely and independently across a ‘network of interconnected spaces around the development’. Which is evidence for my more empirical observations in an earlier blog ‘Playing Out’.
The research found play to be the dominant outdoor activity and discovered that when there was room for this other activities followed with more sociability occurring between adults as well. The full report will probably tell us more – but the plan diagrams (see above) recording accessibility seem to suggest that the position of the street or space in the layout is important as well as the types of street and range of spatial types used – with developments that are more generic supporting less social opportunity.
The Architects Journal; Designing Green Spaces that people want to use, Dinah Borat – AJ 21.04.16 VOL 243/ISSUE 10
Research funded by; The Homes and Communities Agency, NHBC, ZCD Architects, University of East London, Levitt Bernstein and the Hargrave Foundation.
Housing as if people mattered, Clare Cooper Marcus and Wendy Sarkissian, 1986
Child’s Play – Rob Wheyway and Alison Millward, 1997