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Flusty vs public space

Flusty believes the income inequality plaguing many American cities today is a direct result of decades of disciplinary architecture and interdictory space. By separating various economic classes in space, he says, cities and designers are both sustaining and enhancing a certain social order. A far better approach to designing public places would be creating the sort of open, democratic spaces envisioned by urbanist William Whyte in the 20th century. "Once you've got eyes on the plaza and eyes on the street and people interacting, these other sorts of threats are minimized by that," says Flusty. "That's a far more proactive and pleasant way to go about handling it."

"One thing that I think is universal about this design, no matter where you go in the world, is it has the effect of separating majorities of the population from relatively small affluent elite minorities of the population," Steven Flusty, who documented interdictory space in Los Angeles in the 1990s, tells Co.Design. "You can't have anything like a just or equitable society unless it includes spatiality."

Despite its checkered history, disciplinary architecture has the potential for social good. Jittery design outside an urban senior center, for instance, might not only prevent crimes against the elderly but also alert officials of falls or health emergencies. Dan Lockton, who studies what he calls "design with intent" at the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, says a lot of the problems would be solved if designers imagined themselves as the target of the intervention.

"Everyone who's involved in it believes that a design is serving a 'good' purpose, from their perspective, whether that's stopping homeless people sleeping in doorways, or stopping protestors attaching posters to lamp-posts, or trying to persuade obese people to exercise," Lockton tells Co.Design. "Very few people ever believe that their design has 'poor' intentions."

Wow, is this a superficial and unclear piece of writing! It's not exactly clear what type of space the author presumes would be good, except that it wouldn't be crusty or jittery. It's also not clear why these flaws in public space exclude "welfare" more than "well-off'; the design problems he cites would appear to discourage everyone equally.
While grasping at this thin rationale for class outrage there's a subtext of fantasy that there might be a condition of a public space that succeeds with no oversight - but all public spaces that are successful have someone maintaining and caring for them. And is it not true that the general enjoyment of all income levels is supported with less crime and fewer vagrants?
There is abundant deeply humane research on how to achieve all these goals in public space, none of which is reflected here, except a passing citation of William Whyte's name. There might be a way to talk about this subject in a quick article, but this isn't it.


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