Re: Re: Small Monumental Buildings . . .

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The William H. Whyte book is presumably ‘City- Rediscovering the Center’ (Anchor Books, NY ?)- WHW got a National Geographic grant for this research, at the time the first ever NG grant for domestic (i.e. USA) research. If you thought the involvement of NG suggests an anthropological slant to the work, you’d be right. The cornerstone of the study is observation; hours and hours of it. Makes for a fascinating read, with some intuituve results, some counter-intuitive ones. His ‘Social Life of small urban spaces’ is apparently also excellent.

My own thesis is on ‘Urban design, visual clutter and pedestrian navigability’ or something of that ilk- looking at the proliferation of junk in streets and the consequences of same. Then again, I’m not an architect (architectural historian, and planning student), so maybe your point about architects is valid? I do know that I’ve always had as a pet hate the way most architectural photography disregards the human element of buildings, i.e .treats the buildings as abstract compositions while treating people as intrusions into the purity. Perhaps it’s the same mentality? (A similar point about photos was made in another thread, re deBleacam & Meagher- was it by you, garethace? About how different are the experiences of buildings in print vs. in the flesh? It’s a good one.)

Re. the pub crowds- are you familiar with the economic concept of ‘The tragedy of the commons’? It states that individuals will exploit a ‘common pool’ resource (in the example given, it’s the grazing of animals on common land) to maximise their own ‘profit’, resulting eventually in damage to the resource, the suffering of the collective and thus of each individual? Think of city traffic, Ireland’s fisheries policy… Has been used as a justification for planning (i.e. govt intervention in the ‘free’ market for the ‘common good’).

On computers, calculations and behaviour, try Bill Hillier’s ‘Space Syntax’ work (The Social Logic of Space; Space is the Machine), in which formulae based on recorded behaviour are applied to future scenarios for analysis. Used in the redesign of Trafalgar Square. (Tungstentee introduced me to it- want to comment, Tungie? 🙂 )

Good luck with it- you’re opening a fascinating can of worms.

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