8 Ways Design Transforms Communities
October 13, 2020 AD&V
Renaissance Square affordable housing by AD&V.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR |  AD&V® is dedicated to advanced and energy-efficient sustainable architecture & interior design that enhances people’s experience of the world and improves their lives.

Design has a huge impact on how people live in their community and city.

Public spaces bring people together. As part of a community’s experience, activities and events are developed for everyone to gather around and interact with each other. How public spaces are designed can have a positive or negative impact on the community. Here are 8 ways that design transforms communities.

1. MOBILITY

Design can affect how people interact through our cities and communities. The Smart Mobility concept, can be beneficial to the community as whole. It aims to solve the problems of commuting, traffic and transport development by increasing the safety of commuters, providing non-vehicle commuting paths, improving commute time, reducing pollution and reducing transport costs making it more affordable. It also encourages more people to go out and walk or bike around their community since it keeps them protected from transit. By designing with smart mobility in mind, both transit passengers and pedestrians can move safely and efficiently around their community.

2. PUBLIC BEHAVIOR 

Community behavior can be impacted by how spaces are designed. For example, if public spaces are surrounded by under-maintained buildings, damaged sidewalks and dirty streets, people will be less likely to venture into that community. But if buildings and structures are designed to be well-kept and user-centered, then it encourages people to keep spaces clean, be active, walk around their communities, and interact with each other.

It’s also important to note that the design of public spaces affects community security. If public spaces are dark and isolated, then they’re more likely to become exposed to criminal activity. Whereas well-illuminated public spaces filled with pedestrians, makes people feel safe.

3. USER-CENTERED DESIGN

A user-centered design is a creative approach to problem solving. It starts with people and ends with the solutions that are tailored to their individual needs. User-centered design is all about building a deep empathy with people, putting people first.

It also creates a unique opportunity to design with and for communities. They identify the people who will use the product, what they’ll use it for, and the conditions under which they will use it. Observe people’s lives, hear their hopes and needs, and get smart about your design challenge. User-centric design creates innovative spaces rooted in people’s actual needs.

4. PLACEMAKING

Placemaking is a user-centric approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces. It aims to promote health, well-being and happiness. It capitalizes local assets, resources and potential to strengthen communities and improve the resilience of cities. It focuses on the needs of the people that live, work and play in a space, using the public spaces in a development or neighborhood to encourage greater social interaction, foster healthier relationships and improve the economic viability of the community.

Placemaking bridges the gap between person and public space, transforming disconnected neighbors into booming human and civic networks, and disorganized neighborhoods into resilient, thriving cities.

5. URBAN LANDSCAPES

The creation of urban landscapes is a key element in development of a city, it includes restoring and preserving urban parks, recreational areas, business parks, nature centers, and other green areas. They are much more than pretty plants, charming parks and green roofs. They are the streets, sidewalks, alleys and parking lots that shape a city’s look, its functionality and culture.

Landscape architects solve problems and create meaningful, authentic spaces where people want to live, and companies want to do business. Landscape architecture also improves urban spaces and the quality of life of the people living and working in those spaces. It promotes sustainability and helps create healthier, more beautiful and livable neighborhoods. It fights pollutants and encourages city dwellers to spend time outside, which is better for their health and for the community.

6. SUSTAINABLE DESIGN

Sustainable design minimizes our impact on the environment. In sustainable design, designers seek to minimize the negative impact of buildings on the environment by applying innovative  methods to their designs—involving energy-saving technology, sustainable materials, recycling, repurposing and other elements that support long-term ecological balance.

Sustainably designed spaces not only focus on saving energy and natural resources, but also on increasing the well-being of community members, adding to their comfort, enhancing their experience, boosting their productivity, and improving the quality of their lives while reducing demand on the environment.

7. AFFORDABLE DESIGN

Affordable housing is housing deemed affordable to people with low or modest incomes, based on the median household income as rated by country, state, region or municipality by a recognized housing affordability index. In the United States, families that pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing are considered burdened and likely to have difficulty affording other life necessities such as food, transportation, clothing and healthcare.

Affordable housing promotes social integration because it allows people to continue living in areas where they have lived for a long time. When housing is truly affordable, residents can afford to stay in their homes even after life-changing circumstances such as illness, retirement or divorce, keeping their support systems and contributing to overall community stability. Communities where there’s well planned, managed and developed affordable housing can benefit everyone in it including residents, businesses, and developers.

8. RESILIENT DESIGN

The extensive damage and human suffering caused by natural and man-made disasters remind us of the importance of planning and design. We must always think in terms of long-term life cycles in order to fully engage in resilient design and construction. Resilient design can adapt to changing conditions and stand the test of time. That is why architects and developers must think long-term when aiming to create resilient and sustainable buildings, communities and cities. Resilient spaces can withstand natural disaster, have strong community ties, and are sustainable.

TRANSFORMING COMMUNITIES

Design is a transformative tool that facilitates the betterment of individuals, businesses, and communities. Each design element serves a specific function. Design can transform communities by developing public spaces, promoting smart mobility, resisting and rapidly recuperating from human, social, and environmental risks. Design can minimize the negative impacts and vulnerability of badly planned communities. By careful planning, deep understanding of people’s behavior and implementation of these techniques, design can transform our living environments that can benefit us all.

FURTHER READING: RESILIENT PLACEMAKING AND AFFORDABLE HOUSING FOR COMMUNITIES AND CITIES

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