A practical book about architecture and urban design. It is concerned with certain designations of design that often turn out badly and dazzles that visions alone are adequately not. Ideals must be connected through proper plan thoughts to the texture of the assembled environment itself. The tragedy of modern design and spatial qualities, seems, is that designers still need to make a concerted effort to work out the form and resonant implications of the social and political ideals. 

The very strength of the commitment to these ideals ought to be instinctive by-products of progressive social attitudes. But in adopting this stance, paradoxically enough, designers need to emphasize the man-made environment in a social system in its significance, for example, try walking through a wall, and you’ll notice that it is the physical fabric, as well as the way it is managed and erected, that sets constraints on space. 

Ideals and concepts solely are not enough and they have to be linked through appropriate design ideas to the fabric of the built environment itself. This book is a reasonable endeavour to show how this should be possible.

Book in Focus: Responsive Environments by Ian Bentley - Sheet1
Parameters of User Experience and Spatial Qualities to Responsive Environments ©Ian Bentley

Permeability

Permeability is defined as a place that is accessible to users and can offer them a choice. The width of the extent to which an environment allows people a choice of access through it, from space to type, is, therefore, a key measure of its responsiveness. The permeability of a public space depends on the number of alternative routes it has to offer from one point to another. However, these alternatives should be visible, otherwise, users already familiar can only take advantage of the space. So visual permeability is also important.

Book in Focus: Responsive Environments by Ian Bentley - Sheet2
Links through the Site ©Ian Bentley         
Book in Focus: Responsive Environments by Ian Bentley - Sheet3
Effective Function In Smaller Elements ©Ian Bentley

Two current design trends that highlight the permeable aspect of public space are the increasing scale of development and the use of hierarchical layouts. The implications of visual and physical permeability make impactful demands on design. The simplest way of meeting these demands is through the design of perimeter blocks. Fronts facing outwards onto public space particularly a street, square, or park, close enough to enjoy its liveliness. 

As an element of user experience, the other kind of layouts nearly leads to permeability issues of one sort or another. It may not always be easy owing to the restriction of the context to use such a kind of perimeter block development, but its advantages are so important.

Variety

Variety is characterized as the quality or condition of being extraordinary or diverse, the shortfall of consistency or repetitiveness. Variety of involvement infers places with varied forms, uses, and implications. A project’s example of uses excites especially solid interest among those with control over the climate since it is both the premise of economic performance and a critical concern of planning control. In proposing a variety of uses, we are encouraging those with power over the scheme. Variety of use and spaces in collaboration unlocks the other angles and scales of variety.

  • A space with varied uses has varied types of buildings, of varied forms.
  • It attracts varied people, at varied times, with varied approaches, for varied reasons.
  • Because the varied activities, forms, and users provide a rich mix of perceptual conception.
Book in Focus: Responsive Environments by Ian Bentley - Sheet4
Key to Variety as a Whole ©Ian Bentley                   
Book in Focus: Responsive Environments by Ian Bentley - Sheet5
Variety within Blocks ©Ian Bentley

How much variety?

With all these pressures against variety, it is however pointless to agonize over exactly how much is needed, designers must simply get the most they can. Because of the constraints, there is no danger of ending up with too much.

How to maximize it?

The variety in a project depends on three main factors. Firstly, the range and variety of activities which can be located there, which shall be demanded. The scaling possibility of supplying affordable spaces in the scheme to housing the activities. Lastly, the wider extent to which design encourages positive interactions between them.

Legibility

Legibility is the quality of being clear enough to be described, understood, and read. It is important at two levels, physical form and activity patterns, places may be read at either level separately. For example, it is feasible to foster a dream of the spatial quality of a space, maybe appreciating it just at an aesthetic level. Similarly, examples of utilization may be grasped without much concern with form.

However, to utilize a spot’s capability without limit, attention to physical form and examples of utilization should supplement each other. This is especially essential to the outsider, who needs to get a handle on the spot rapidly.

Book in Focus: Responsive Environments by Ian Bentley - Sheet6
Intermediate Markers ©Ian Bentley          
Book in Focus: Responsive Environments by Ian Bentley - Sheet7
Legibility and Elements Complimented ©Ian Bentley

Since the new design should contribute to the legibility of its surroundings as well as being legible in itself, special emphasis to any parts of the site must be legible anyway. It is often helpful to use Lynch’s checklist of elements even within a space on smaller scale paths, nodes, landmarks, edges, and districts. To stimulate this analysis the typical factors to look for include the following, 

  • The relative intensity of use.
  • Recording the relative importance of each path, and the public relevance of any associations.
  • Carefully planning any strong linear barriers.
  • Record areas with different patterns of use.
  • Record areas with different visual characters, and decide what makes the differences, overall building forms, ambiance, materials, or details.

The important step towards achieving this legible relationship is to collectively account for the tentative layout of individual spaces, layouts within, blocks and uses developed. The modern city is legible only in the sense that ‘buildings cannot lie’.

Robustness

Spaces that can be used for different purposes offer the users more choices than places where design limits them to a single fixed use. Environments that offer this choice have a quality called robustness. Patrons are not usually interested in promoting user choice, because they are solely concerned with a certain particular aspect of a user’s life and experience. In most buildings, the various parts have different potentials for contributing to robustness. Two sorts of areas need special attention namely, Hard or Soft and Active or Passive.

Book in Focus: Responsive Environments by Ian Bentley - Sheet8
The preferred building configuration advocated ©Design Sheet 4.2 Street, to the south of Courage Street.

Robustness concerns the ability of specific spaces within the building to be used in a wide variety of ways. This is the scale of robustness most relevant to the majority of users which is centric on quality and experience. It stands important since it has a direct effect on the day-to-day choices users can make. Because it is concerned with major changes of use, robustness has implications for the overall design of the building, which need to be considered. Robustness involves design decisions of a more detailed kind, more user-specific with a mix and variety since they are of critical importance to a rich user experience.

Visual Appropriateness

Visual appropriateness is significant in the places which are most likely to be visited by people from a wider range and variety of backgrounds, particularly when the appearance cannot be altered by the users themselves. Both indoors and out, hence, visual appropriateness is important in the more public aspects of the spaces in the scheme. So far as social space is concerned, it is, in particular, relevant to the outside of the buildings which define the public realm.

Book in Focus: Responsive Environments by Ian Bentley - Sheet9
Design decisions to support Visual Appropriateness ©The Maltings Place Houses

What makes the visuals appropriate?

The interpretations users associate a place with can reinforce its responsiveness at the three different levels.

  • By supporting its legibility, in terms of form and spatial quality.
  • By incorporating its variety in form and function.
  • By supporting its robustness, at both large and small scales.

Users interpret visual cues as having specific perceptions because they have learned to do so’. But users do not learn in a social vacuum. A great deal of learning, both formal and informal, highlights the members of different social groups may well make different interpretations of the same place. This happens for two main reasons mainly the environmental experience differs from that of others and the individual objectives differ from those of other groups.

Richness

Richness is the interesting quality of something that has a lot of different features or aspects. There are only two ways people can choose from different sensory experiences if the environment itself is established as broadly outlined. Firstly, by focussing attention on different sources of sense and experiences on separate occasions. Secondly, by moving away from one source towards another.

Book in Focus: Responsive Environments by Ian Bentley - Sheet10
Sensory Experiences and Richness ©Ian Bentley

The effectiveness of each of the methods depends on whether the sense associated can be directed selectively, it picks up information indiscriminately, from all sides at once. The range of most likely viewing distances instinctively affects the scale at which richness must be accounted for. Whilst the surface will be seen at a long-range, large-scale richness is necessary, where zooming down to a closer range, richness is achieved by small-scale elements. To maintain richness from long-range to close range, a hierarchy of elements is played with that brings in a diversity of experience.

To the point, the visual monotony of recent environments is widely recognized, so the attitude and perceptions of the designers and patrons’ are changing. But with the evolution of design, the principles of visual richness have been forgotten. With no principles to refer from, designers only base their work on examples of richness from the past. The scheme thus calls to contain visual contrasts, formed by the cues used for achieving visual appropriateness

Personalization

Personalization is not random. Personalization clarifies the gist of designing to meet someone’s requirements. Users’ perspective to personalize the space they wish to be in. These spaces and choices are predictable, even with highly robust buildings, it is not difficult to establish the most likely possibilities. Once this is achieved, the probable chances of personalization can roughly be calculated, to finalize the qualities designed into the scheme.

Why personalize?

  • An affirmation of one’s tastes and values: affirmative personalization
  • The perception of the existing image as inappropriate: remedial personalization.
Book in Focus: Responsive Environments by Ian Bentley - Sheet11
Personalization can make each Use Explicit ©Ian Bentley

It is therefore important to make it possible for users to personalize the existing environments, which is the only way most people can achieve an environment that bears the stamp of their tastes, values, and experiences. On the alternate comprehensively, this points to certain considerable efforts from the designer. 

There also comes an instance, a secondary reason for supporting personalization which is,  it makes clearer a place’s pattern of activities and range of diversity. This is specifically valuable in robust environments, engaging a variety of uses. By encouraging each user to dress the building differently, personalization can make each use explicit.

The concept that a built environment must provide the users with an essentially democratic mood and setting, enriches the paradox of opportunities by maximizing the degree of choices available to them. Such places are called ‘responsive’. The approach results in a larger diversity of spaces and associated experiences in design, especially in terms of atmospheres, while opening up to have more potential, especially concerning the overall area and supported consistency in the design. 

User perspectives in architectural terms of design have pointed out the value of narrative approaches as well as challenges to its integration. They set out to explore the potential of scenarios put together collectively, a technique from related design disciplines and parameters to iteratively and explicitly involve user perspectives, for architectural design.

Author

Dazzling eyes on the visual and literary, Divya seeks to express her understanding of design methodologies and prowess in writing. Architecture for her is a deep impression with a reflection of serene apprehension that yearns the timeless themes of love, solitude, joy, and nature.

Write A Comment