Performance planning – beauty has a functional component

I spoke yesterday to Prof Jerold Kayden’s “Design Law Policy” class at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

My presentation “Performance planning – urban measurement, analysis & forecasting” can be downloaded from Slideboom.

Questions from the discussion (my abbreviated response in italics)

Is it necessary to have absolute proof in order to convince people?
No – there needs to be enough proof. You will never have absolute proof. That isn’t scientific. As with the relationship between carbon emissions and climate change, you can never be absolutely sure “but it would be foolish to bet against it”.

What is the relationship between aesthetics and functionality? Are they different?
They are often spoken about as different things but they are one in the same thing.

What are the key factors to measure, analyse and forecast if you want to understand how new places are going to work?
Spatial integration, land use location and ground level active frontages. If land uses are located in synchrony with spatial integration (such that movement-sensitive land uses such as retail are located in the spatially most integrated locations) and if the ground level of buildings is activated (such that buildings face the street and do not turn away from it) then the outcome is likely to perform vibrantly in both social and economic terms.

So, if you had these three properties and the buildings were bland or even ugly, would that be better than having beautiful buildings with poor spatial integration, land use distribution and inactive frontages?
Absolutely. Beauty has a functional component.

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One thought on “Performance planning – beauty has a functional component”

  1. I have viewed the presentation as well as having read most of your other presentations and the recent papers by Ben Hillier , would like to know how a performance model based on these evidence based concepts derived from lengthy observation of cities which, although they have survived a long time, and even adapted to adversity (e.g. Berlin) are in themselves not Carbon neutral ( London)- uncertainly socially heterogenous nor equitable? Is this model sufficient to include all ecological and socio-cultural factors that may arise and how then do these models then apply to cities where the infrastructure an support base of the environment is even more severely taxed – especially with regards to water and food security? Donovan Gillman

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