MEREDITH Strategy + Design

We design the places and spaces where people come together to do great work

Interactions planning versus urban planning?

Linknotes 3 – 27 January 2019



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Interactions planning versus urban planning

We have come to define the value of place and space by the quality, frequency and intensity of its interactions. People go to work to interact with each other to get things done, so interactions, we believe, is an appropriate measure of success. Cities act as catalysts for culture and commerce, so the richness of interaction in urban space seems an appropriate measure of successful planning. 

But what about the concept of “dwell” in a place. At the office, I may also seek a quiet, non-interactive place to do contemplative work. In the city, I may choose a quiet park to walk with my thoughts, or a sidewalk cafe to sit, sip and simply watch the passing parade. 

In this article about urban planning in Russia and Finland, the measure of digital activity in a place is the measure of the principal value of the place. The more I turn to my phone to instagram a place, for example, the higher that place registers on a scale of value. 

“Today, we can’t untangle the intricate relationships between places and the digital footprint people create while interacting with them…successful places are those capable to provide a good interaction with the users. And that is what the planning profession is all about today.”

I am not comfortable accepting that as a primary value metric. We already comment on the lack of meaningful interaction between and among people in “public” place as individuals sit glued to their texts, or photograph a place and move on rather than truly interacting with it and the people, history and culture surrounding it. 

Observation of urban space, of workspace, may provide insights to better metrics for the success of places intended and designed for engagement and interaction. What may be the kind of place or space that might cause people to put down their phones? 

(Hmm…maybe those are places like these.)

How Urban Planning Is Turning Into Interaction Planning