Re: Research Versus Personal Viewpoints
From: bdsullivan (
Date: Tue, 20 Jun 95 08:42 CDT
>There appears to be an ongoing process whereby I post researched criteria for
>developing neighborhoods that promote "social networking" and then someone
>posts a note saying that from their own personal
>experiences/viewpoint/beliefs that the criteria I've posted are wrong and
>then they want to know where the research that I am reporting on is coming
>At the same time, these folks never state what their criteria are for
>developing neighborhoods that promote "social networking"---nor do they 
>offer any research to back their viewpoint "that I am wrong"; instead, they
>try to put me down with some kind of childish comment about "Harry's rules"
>(or some other dreck). 

Preaching verses teaching is the issue here. I have been in the design
profession for many years researching social principles (like Gehls) with
the intent of building good communiites. However, what I have found doesn't
work is a simple listing of guidelines that say "do it this way."

People like to know the reasons behind the design principles. One of the
best at writing guidelines I believe is Clare Cooper Marcus who  states the
guideline, backs it up simply with her supporting logic or data and then
gives some possible design responses. I find if you tell someone to march,
they'll ask why. It's only human.

I am familiar with many of the patterns Harry has listed, and am familiar
with Gehl's work. But it is unfair to say to everyone who has a different
feeling, that they should go read Gehl. It would be easier however for
people to buy into these "rules" if they were supported as they were
presented. On the other hand,  the whole point of behavioral research is to
listen to the user -- all users, even those on the network. 

Finally, I agree with most but not all of the patterns Harry listed.  I
might use them as a starting point for discussion in a new community but
all "design patterns" do not cross cultures equally well. Therefore, inform
people of their options, explain how they work somewhere else, and then let
the community consider alternatives and decide themselves. Thatdecision
making process is very helpful in community building instead of saying to
them ,"this is the only way to build your homes."
Brian D. Sullivan, Lecturer
Department of Architecture
Chinese University of Honk Kong
email  bdsullivan [at]

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