Reflections on ‘Responsive Environments’

Within the Joint Centre, therefore, there were three schools of thought; Dutch Structuralism (van Eyck, Hertzberger etc), Anglo Saxon Empiricism (Lynch, Hillier etc) and Latin Rationalism (or Latin American Morphologists which came from an influx of Latin American students into the centre). ‘Responsive Environments’ is an amalgamation of these somewhat disparate philosophies. As Ian Bentley described it “It’s like a mix and match shed that you keep adding bits to, in the end it somehow works but you’re not entirely sure why”.

And it does work, the ideas which ‘Responsive Environments’ lays out are very simple – how do you create opportunities for people? So, the book becomes a ‘How to’ guide for designers which looked at some of the following important elements of a city:

– Permeability
– Variety
– Legibility
– Robustness
– Visual appropriateness
– Richness
– Personalisation

Although very successful, both here and abroad, when it was originally published it was resisted by many in the built environment sector, particularly architects. The book set out a vocabulary and insight into the complex systems in play but many saw as too prescriptive and therefore imposing constraints on designing.

Bennetts Associates Architects | Blog | Reflections on ‘Responsive Environments’.


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