There are some interesting online courses about design, architecture and urbanism starting soon. Some are new and some are long-anticipated re-runs for me, since I missed previous sessions. Here they are:
Courses about design:
Environmental psychology visualized.
In a paper titled “Is there a place for children in a city?” Arza Churchman (2003) asks the following question: Does the city, through its design and planning, and through the attitudes and behaviour of adults, transmit the message to the children that they are welcome, that they are an equal part of the society in the city? Just think of all the limitations children are faced with due to (reasonable!) safety concerns of their parents, limitations that become more and more constraining with each new generation. With significantly less privacy and freedom then before, constantly supervised by adults (unless they’re “babysat” by TV of PC), the children of today may be receiving the message that the environment we’ve created is not a friendly place for them.
photo by guilmay
There are little oases amid the noisy confusion of life though, that celebrate children’s most important activity – play. It has been stated that independent and diverse play and exploration is important to children’s development, specifically their motor skills and physical health, cognitive development, social relationships with peers and formations of connections with the natural world (Kyttä, 2004).
Break the monotony of straight lines, smooth surfaces and neutral colors of an urban environment with a simple fountain or a pond, and you’ll see a big change in people’s behaviour. Ignoring other aspects of their environment that stress the importance of order, rules, organization and schedule, people instantly become playful and spontaneous. Water tempts us to stop and look at it, touch it, throw stones in it.. and be a kid for a moment.
Courtyard of Somerset House, London; photo by Marxpix
While we all know that aquatic environments are appealing to us, the study by White et al. (2010) answers the question how appealing they are compared to natural and built non-aquatic environments, and probably more important – how can water in built environments improve urban experience?
What is the key factor that makes some neighbourhoods friendly and social, and others alienated and detached? Is it the wealth of its inhabitants, or the size of the community? Is it impossible to create a strong sense of community in a big city or in wealthier neighbourhoods? I don’t think so, because there are some design features that can foster community attachment, facilitate social interaction, and create a sense of community identity.
Very similar houses in traditional suburbia (click to enlarge); photo by San Diego Shooter
When speaking of residential areas, people usually think of conventional suburban developments with very similar single family houses on large lots, isolated from commercial parts of town. From a bird’s perspective this tame environment looks like it would make a foundation for a very close-knit community. However, as it’s became evident throughout 20th century, high car dependence, one of the most prominent characteristics of suburbia, causes a number of problems – economical, environmental, health, and – social. People never get the chance to see their neighbours and develop a sense of community.