Places for People - evidence based design - contents

©Anne R. Beer 2003

That spaces become places happens over time as much by accident as design. However, if they are to become places that people like to use in new and regenerated areas of cities and within building complexes themselves, spaces need to be designed to support the experiential as well as physical needs of present and future users. This seems obvious, but in so many building schemes we continue to find failed public places; spaces which are rejected by their users. This rejection is linked to the unnecessary cost to society of either upgrading these spaces or maintaining them.
This tutorial aims to be of assistance to those involved in the design process: to the clients and users as much as to their site planners and designers, as well as to environmental psychology researchers seeking new areas of research interest. It tries to identify what we know about people's experience of their immediate environment when they are within public spaces and also indicates the presumptions made about human reactions within public spaces through a lack of fundamental research. It is only an overview and the reader is directed to relevant published sources for further information and study.
The ideas presented here are applicable to the way that every type of public space - large/small, indoor/outdoor, civic space/greenspace - is designed. Where appropriate an attempt is made to identify some basic principles which might guide the design process. This is not a recipe book; it is, however, meant to make those involved in design think more deeply about how users will experience the spaces they make and help them to be aware of the growing body of research to support their decision making.
The presentation draws on the author's experience as an environmental planner and lecturer over a thirty five year period. It was originally prepared as notes for students of the Department of Landscape, University of Sheffield.

This online presentation is in six parts. The parts can be accessed by clicking on the menu at the top of the page. Each part contains sections which can be accessed from the menu on each page or directly from this contents page.


Liveable public spaces
scope and approach

Ideas about design
The cost to society of failed designs

Liveability and design
Defining terms
Information needs
User needs
Design guidance - UK

Making places
The quality of the 'public realm'
How can we design user-friendly places
Designs based on user needs

Behavioural Settings
Diverse spaces
City spaces

Factors involved
Perception of Place

Human preference
People's choice
Fitting purposes

User needs
Settings and users
Assessing user needs

High density

Seeing spaces  


Designing for Children's Play in Housing Areas

Designing for the
ess able bodied

Good cities
Landmark buildings
Art and design in public spaces
Places for Pedestrian
What's wrong ?



Local spaces

Benefits of open spaces


Site planning criteria


External areas
High density housing
A change of approach

User zones
The doorstep
User reactions

Design approach
The home
The garden

The Art of making places

Research for design

Assessing user needs

Useable city places

Urban greenspace

Residential - spaces

© Anne .R. Beer,

latest update
7 Mar 2007

Text and Photographs (unless stated otherwise) © Anne R. Beer, all rights reserved. Terms of use: Any involved in education or training may copy the contents of these webpages, with the proviso that they always make reference to the original copyright