UCL News


The challenge of planning for people

13 May 2006

What if you create a public space and no one comes? That's one of the questions a high-powered national conference beginning tomorrow in Brisbane will address.

Sir Peter Hall [UCL Bartlett School] says cultural spaces need to consider market analysis if they are to be a success.

Hall, who is giving the keynote address, says old demographic labels according to class, age and gender are no longer useful.

They have been replaced by the "new demographic", which subdivides people into consumer groups or "tribes", classified under such titles as "symbols of success", "urban intelligence", "municipal dependency" and "suburban comfort".

"Almost every large consumer-orientated organisation uses such neighbourhood classifications as a key element in retail planning, target marketing, and customer management," Hall says.

"They are likely to prove equally relevant in the planning of new cultural facilities and the reshaping of existing ones to meet new patterns of demand." …

Quoting a report from the Blair Government-sponsored think-tank Demos, in London, Hall says "the core ideal of public space -- free and open access to all -- is being undermined by a focus on safety, which is creating bland spaces lacking any real ability to draw in or retain people".

Hall argues that planners must start with the people who will use the space, designing it from the perspective of the people who live and work there. …

Rosemary Sorensen, 'The Courier Mail' (Australia)