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Architecture, urbanism, design and behaviour:

a brief review

12 September, 2011 34 Comments

by Dan Lockton

Continuing the meta-auto-behaviour-change effort started here, Im publishing a few extracts

from my PhD thesis as I write it up (mostly from the literature review, and before any rigorous
editing) as blog posts over the next few months. The idea of how architecture can be used to
influence behaviour was central to this blog when it started, and so its pleasing to revisit it,
even if makes me realise how little I still know.

There is no doubt whatever about the influence of architecture and structure

upon human character and action. We make our buildings and afterwards they
make us. They regulate the course of our lives.
Winston Churchill, addressing the English Architectural Association, 1924

In designing and constructing environments in which people live and work, architects and
planners are necessarily involved in influencing human behaviour. While Sommer (1969, p.3)
asserted that the architect in his training and practice, learns to look at buildings without people
in them, it is clear that from, for example, Howards Garden Cities of To-morrow (1902),
through Le Corbusiers Ville Contemporaine and La Ville radieuse, to the Smithsons Streets in

the sky, there has been a long-standing thread of recognition that the way people live their lives
is directly linked to the designed environments in which they live. Whether the explicit intention
to influence behaviour drives the design process architectural determinism (Broady, 1966: see
future blog post POSIWID and determinism) or whether the behaviour consequences of
design decisions are only revealed and considered as part of a post-occupancy evaluation (e.g.
Zeisel, 2006) or by social scientists or psychologists studying the impact of a development, there
are links between the design of the built environment and our behaviour, both individually and
Where there is an explicit intention to influence behaviour, the intended behaviours could relate
(for example) to directing people for strategic reasons, or providing a particular experience, or
for health and safety reasons, but they are often focused on influencing social interaction. Hillier
et al (1987, p.233) find that spatial layout in itself generates a field of probabilistic encounter,
with structural properties that vary with the syntax of the layout. Ittelson et al (1974, p.358)
suggest that All buildings imply at least some form of social activity stemming from both their
intended function and the random encounters they may generate. The arrangement of partitions,
rooms, doors, windows, and hallways serves to encourage or hinder communication and, to this
extent, affects social interaction. This can occur at any number of levels and the designer is
clearly in control to the degree that he plans the contact points and lanes of access where people
come together. He might also, although with perhaps less assurance, decide on the desirability of
such contact.
Designers often aspire to do more than simply create buildings that are new, functional and
attractive they promise that a new environment will change behaviours and attitudes (Marmot,
2002, p.252). Where architects expressly announce their intentions and ability to influence
behaviour, such as in Danish firm 3XNs exhibition and book Mind Your Behaviour (3XN,
2010), the behaviours intended and techniques used can range from broad, high-level aspirational
strategies such as communal areas creating the potential for involvement, interaction and
knowledge sharing in a workplace (3XN, 2010) to specific tactics, such as Frank Lloyd
Wrights occasional use of very confining corridors for people to walk along so that when
they entered an open space the openness and light would enhance their experience (Ittelson et al,
1974, p.346). An appreciation of both broad strategies and specific tactics is valuable: from the
perspective of a designer whose agency may only extend to redesign of certain elements of a
space, product or interface, it is the specific tactical techniques which are likely to be the most
immediately applicable, but the broader guiding strategies can help set the vision in the first
place. For example, the conditions for city diversity outlined by Jacobs (1961) broad
strategies for understanding aspects of urban behaviour have influenced generations of
Following the influence of Christopher Alexander (Alexander et al, 1975, 1977; Alexander,
1979), such strategies and tactics may be expressed architecturally in terms of patterns, which
describe a problem which occurs over and over again in our environment, and then describes the
core of the solution to that problem, in such a way that you can use this solution a million times
over, without ever doing it the same way twice (Alexander et al, 1977). The concept of patterns,

thesis extract, for their form, philosophy and impact, but, as an example, it is worth drawing out a
few of the patterns which actually address directly influencing behaviour architecturally (Table
1). Among others, Frederick (2007) and Day (2002) both also outline a range of architectural
patterns, some with similarities to Alexander et als, including some specifically relating to
influencing behaviour.

Two examples of pattern 53? Chepstow, Monmouthshire (restored 1524) and Philips High Tech
Campus, Eindhoven (c.2000)

Table 1. Summaries of a few of Alexander et als patterns (1977) which specifically address
influencing behaviour, simplified into ends and means.

End Means



Activity nodes

To create concentrations of
Facilities must be grouped densely round very small public
people in a community
squares which can function as nodes with all pedestrian
movement in the community organized to pass through these


Main gateways

To influence inhabitants of

Mark every boundary in the city which has important human

a part of a town to identify it
meaning the boundary of a building cluster, a neighborhood, a
as a distinct entity
precinct by great gateways where the major entering paths

cross the boundary


Connected play

To support the formation

Lay out common land, paths, gardens and bridges so that

of spontaneous play groups
groups of at least 64 households are connected by a swath of
for children
land that does not cross traffic. Establish this land as the

connected play space for the children in these households


Farmhouse kitchen

To help all the members of

Make the kitchen bigger than usual, big enough to include the
the family to accept,
family room space, and place it near the center of the
fully, the fact that taking
care of themselves by
commons, not so far back in the house as an ordinary kitchen.
Make it large enough to hold a good table and chairs, some soft
cooking is as much a part of
and some hard, with counters and stove and sink around the
life as taking care of
edge of the room; and make it a bright and comfortable room
themselves by eating


Small meeting

To encourage smaller group

Make at least 70 per cent of all meeting rooms really
meetings, which encourage
small for 12 people or less. Locate them in the most public
people to contribute and
make their point of view
parts of the building, evenly scattered among the workplaces

Layout of physical elements

Practically, most architectural patterns for influencing behaviour involve, in one way or another,
the physical arrangement of building elements inside or outside or a change in material
properties. In each case, there is the possibility of changing peoples perceptions of what
behaviour is possible or appropriate, and the possibility of actually forcing some behaviour to
occur or not occur (see future article Affordances, constraints and choice architecture). These
are not independent alternatives: the perception that some behaviour is possible or impossible
can be a result of learning the hard way in the past.

Barrier on the London Underground (Baker Street, from memory), preventing people running
down stairs directly onto the track. Most stairs dont open straight onto the platform like this.
The physical arrangement of elements can be broken down into different aspects of positioning
and layout putting elements in particular places to encourage or discourage peoples interaction
with them, putting them in peoples way to prevent access to somewhere, putting them either side
of people to channel or direct them in a particular way (e.g. staggered pedestrian crossings which
aim to direct pedestrians to face oncoming traffic; Department for Transport, 1995), hiding them
to remove the perception that they are there, splitting elements up or combining them so that they
can be used by different numbers of people at once, or angling them so that some actions are
easier than others (termed slanty design by Beale (2007), both physically and in metaphorical
application in interfaces). Urbanists such as Whyte (1980) have catalogued, in colourful, intricate
detail the effects that the layouts and features of built environments have on peoples
behaviour why some areas become popular, others not so, with whom, and why, with
recommendations for how to improve things, in contrast to work such as Goffman (1963) which
focuses on the social contexts of public behaviour in urban environments.
The layouts of shops, hotels, casinos and theme parks, especially larger developments where

there is scope to plan more ambitiously, can also make use of multiple aspects of positioning and
layout to influence and control shoppers paths Stenebo (2010) discusses IKEAs carefully
planned (and continually refined) fairyland of adventures which routes visitors through the
store; Shearing and Stenning (1984) examine how Disney World embeds [c]ontrol strategies in
both environmental features and structural relations, many to do with positioning of physical
features; while Underhill (1999, 2004), formerly one of Whytes students, describes how his
company, Envirosell, uses observation approach to understand and redesign shopping behaviour
across a wide range of store types and shopping malls themselves, much of which comes down to
intelligently repositioning elements such as mirrors, basket stacks, signage and seating.
Poundstone (2010) cites a study by Sorensen Associates which used active RFID tags fitted to
shopping trolleys to determine that US shoppers taking an anticlockwise route around
supermarkets spend on average $2.00 more per trip; the suggestion is that stores with the
entrance on the right will be more likely to prompt this anticlockwise movement.
Changes in material properties can involve drawing attention to particular behaviour (e.g. rumble
strips on a road to encourage drivers to slow down: Harvey, 1992), or making it more or less
comfortable to do an activity (e.g., as Katyal (2002, p.1043) notes, fast food restaurants use hard
chairs that quickly grow uncomfortable so that customers rapidly turn over). The application of
some of these physical positioning and layout and material property ideas to a particular social
issue is described in the blog post Towards a Design with Intent method v.0.1 from 2008.

Often combining positioning and material properties, the effect of different seating types and
layouts on behaviour comprises a significant area of study in itself, with, for example, work by
Steinzor (1950), Hearn (1957), Sommer (1969) and Koneya (1976) helping to establish patterns

of likely interaction between people occurring with arrangements of chairs around tables, and
overall room layouts in classrooms and mental hospitals. Sommers design intervention in the
dayroom of an elderly ladies ward at a state hospital in Canada by reducing the number of
couches around the walls and adding tables and chairs in the centre of the room, with flowers and
magazines led to major increases in the amount of conversation and interaction between

Osmond (1959) introduced the terms sociofugal and sociopetal to describe spaces which drive
people apart and together, respectively; Sommer (1969, 1974) notes that airports are often among
the most sociofugal spaces, largely because of the fixed, single-direction seating and sterile
decor: Many other buildings such as mental hospitals and jails, also discourage contact
between people, but none does this as effectively as the airport In practice the long corridors
and the cold, bare waiting areas of the typical airport are more sociofugal than the isolation wing
of the state penitentiary. (Sommer, 1974: p.72). Halls concept of proxemics (e.g. Hall, 1966)
provides a treatment of personal space, its effects on behaviour, and its significance in different
physical spaces as well as in different cultures. The different distance zones identified by
Hall intimate, personal, social and public have implications for the design process: If one
looks at human beings in the way that the early slave traders did, conceiving of their space
requirements simply in terms of the limits of the body, one pays very little attention to the effects
of crowding. If, however, one sees man surrounded by a series of invisible bubbles which have
measurable dimensions, architecture can be seen in a new light. It is then possible to conceive
that people can be cramped by the spaces in which they have to live and work. They may find
themselves forced into behavior, relationships or emotional outlets that are overly stressful
(Hall, 1966, p.129).

Emergence, desire lines and predicting behaviour

All buildings are predictions. All predictions are wrong .

Stewart Brand, How Buildings Learn, 1994, p. 178.
I built skyscrapers for people to live in there and now they messed them
up disgusting .
Ern Goldfinger, commenting on tabloid reports of violent crime in the Trellick
Tower, above (quoted in Open University, 2001)

In How Buildings Learn, Stewart Brand (1994) contrasts Low Road architecture designed to
permit adaptation by users, with visionary High Road architectural plans which seek to define
at the design stage the future behaviour and lifestyles of buildings users. High Road plans often
fail in this sense, unable to anticipate future needs or usage patterns (as Ittelson et al (1974, p.
357) put it, we are all living in the relics of the past ), while Low Road architecture can cope
with changing requirements, appropriation (Salovaara, 2008) and emergent behaviour. The
stereotype of architect as a High Road planner perhaps living in the penthouse at the top of
the tower block he has designed resonates in both fact (e.g. Ern Goldfingers comment quoted
above) and fiction (e.g. Anthony Royal in J.G. Ballards High Rise (1975).*

The parallels of the the High/Low Road approaches with the design and use of other systems in
particular software, but perhaps also economic and political systems in general are evident
throughout Brands book, although never explicitly stated as such; there are also parallels in
planning at a level above that of buildings themselves, such as the clash in New York (Flint,
2009) between the bottom-up approach to urbanism favoured by Jacobs (1961) and the top-down
approach of Robert Moses. While it will unfortunately not be considered in detail in this thesis,
the emerging power of ubiquitous computing, when integrated intelligently into physical
spacecity as operating system (Gittins, 2007) could permit a kind of Low Road read/write
urbanism (Greenfield & Shepard, 2007) in which the city users themselves are able to augment
and alter the meanings, affordances and even fabrics of their surroundings.

A desire path or cowpath is forming across this grass area in the John Crank memorial garden,
Brunel University
One emergent behaviour-related concept arising from architecture and planning which has also
found application in human-computer interaction is the idea of desire lines, desire paths or
cowpaths. The usual current use of the term (often attributed, although apparently in error, to
Bachelards The Poetics of Space (1964)) is to describe paths worn by pedestrians across spaces
such as parks, between buildings or to avoid obstaclesthe foot-worn paths that sometimes
appear in a landscape over time (Mathes, 2004) and which become self-reinforcing as
subsequent generations of pedestrians follow what becomes an obvious path. Throgmorton &
Eckstein (2000) also discuss Chicago transportation engineers use of desire lines to describe
maps of straight-line origin-to-destination journeys across the city, in the process revealing
assumptions about the publics desire to undertake these journeys. In either sense, desire lines
(along with use-marks (Burns, 2007)) could perhaps, using economic terminology, be seen as a
form of revealed user preference (Beshears et al, 2008) or at least revealed choice, with a

substantial normative quality.

As such, there is potential for observing the formation of desire lines and then codifying them
in order to provide paths that users actually need, rather than what is assumed they will need. As
Myhill (2004) puts it, [a]n optimal way to design pathways in accordance with natural human
behaviour, is to not design them at all. Simply plant grass seed and let the erosion inform you
about where the paths need to be. Stories abound of university campuses being constructed
without any pathways to them. Myhill goes on to suggest that companies which apply this idea
in the design of goods and services, designing systems to permit desire lines to emerge and then
paying attention to them, will succeed in a process of Normanian Natural Selection (after Don
Normans work).

whereas this one has been paved after pedestrians wore a definite path.
In human-computer interaction, this principle has become known as Pave the cowpathslook
where the paths are already being formed by behavior and then formalize them, rather than
creating some kind of idealized path structure that ignores history and tradition and human nature
and geometry and ergonomics and common sense (Crumlish & Malone, 2009, p.17).
Particularly with websites, analytics software can take the place of the worn grass, and in the
process reveal extra data such as demographic information about users, and more about their
actual desires or intention in engaging in the process (e.g. Google is a database of intentions,
according to Battelle (2003)). This allows clustering of behaviour paths and even investigation of
users mental models of site structure. The counter-argument is that blindly paving cowpaths can
enshrine inefficient behaviours in the longer-term, locking users and organisations into particular
ways of doing things which were never optimal in the first place (Arace, 2006) form freezing
function, to paraphrase Stewart Brand (1994, p.157).

From the point of view of influencing behaviour rather than simply reflecting it, the principle of
paving the cowpaths could be applied strategically: identify the desire lines and paths of
particular users perhaps a group which is already performing the desired behaviour and then,
by formalising this, making it easier or more salient or in some way obviously normative,
encourage other users to follow suit.
*It is worth differentiating, though, between a visionary approach which considers human
behaviour and sets out to change it, and the approach attributed to some other treatments of the
visionary architect personality, in which human behaviour is simply ignored or relegated as
being secondary to the vision of the building itself. In fiction, Ayn Rands Howard Roark (in The
Fountainhead, 1943) is perhaps an archetype; Sommers architect who learns to look at
buildings without people in them quoted above is perhaps based on real instances of this

The ticket hall of Stratford City railway station, London, with Westfield logo and the Olympic
Athletes Village under construction in the background, March 2010

The politics of architecture, power and control

I was aware that I could be watched from above and that it was possible to
go much higher to become one of the watchers but I didnt see how it could
be done. The architecture embodied a political message: There are people
higher than you, and they can watch you, follow you and, theoretically, you
can join them, become one of them. Unfortunately you dont know how.
Geoff Manaugh, The BLDG BLOG Book (2009, p.17)

Architecture can serve as a regulatory force (Shah and Kesan, 2007) and has been used to

influence and control public behaviour through embodying power in a number of ways. Direct
use of architecture to change the economic or demographic make-up of areas ranges from
policies of shopping centres and Business Improvement Districts to shift the social class of
visitors to an area* (Minton, 2009), to Depression-era Tennessee Valley Authoritys mandate to
revitalise impoverished areas through massive development programmes (Culvahouse, 2007), to
government-driven use of settlements to occupy or colonise territories. In this latter context,
Segal and Weizman (2003, p. 19), referring to Israel, comment that [i]n an environment where
architecture and planning are systematically instrumentalized planning decisions do not often
follow criteria of economic sustainability, ecology or efficiency of services, but are rather
employed to serve strategic and political agendas.
Vale (2008) discusses Pierre Charles LEnfants 1791 layout of Washington, DC, often seen as
physically reifying the separation of powers principle contained in the US Constitution, by
separating the buildings housing the branches of government, although Vale notes that LEnfant
does not explicitly mention this as his intention. Along perhaps similar lines, Stewart Brand
(1994, p.3) mentions Churchills 1943 request that the bomb-damaged Parliament be rebuilt
exactly as it was before It was to the good, he insisted, that the [House of Commons] Chamber
was too small to seat all the members (so great occasions were standing-room occasions), and
that its shape forced members to sit on either one side or the other, unambiguously of one party
or the other. Indeed, Churchills crossing the floor in 1904 (and again in the 1920s) perhaps
relied on the physical layout of the chamber for its impact. Ittelson et al (1974, p.139) also note
that [t]he eight months of deliberations in 1969, preceding the Paris Peace Talks, were largely
centered on the issue of the shape of the table to be used in the negotiations.
Internal building layouts are analysed for their power implications by Dovey (2008), who uses a
system of space syntax analysis developed by Hillier and Hanson (1984) to examine diverse
buildings such as Albert Speers Berlin Chancellery, the Forbidden City of Beijing, and the
Metro Centre shopping mall in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. One recurring pattern in political buildings
is the intentional use of something similar to what Alexander et al (1977, p.610), in a different
context, call intimacy of gradient a diplomatic promenade (Dovey, 2008, p. 65) selectively
revealing a sequence of anterooms to visitors, their permitted progress through the structure (the
deepest level being the president or monarchs private study) calculated both to reflect their
status and instil the requisite level of awe. Nicoletta (2003) looks at the use of architecture to
exert social control in Shaker dwelling houses, e.g. the use of separate entrances and staircases
for men and women, and the lack of routes through the house which did not result in observation
by other members of the family.
City layouts have been used strategically to try to prevent disorder and make it easier to put
down. Baron Georges-Eugne Haussmanns militaristically planned Paris (Hatherley, 2008, p.
11), remodelled for Louis Napolon (later Napolon III) after 1848, had [t]he true goal
of secur[ing] the city against civil war. He wanted to make the erection of barricades in Paris
impossible for all time Widening the streets is designed to make the erection of barricades
impossible, and new streets are to furnish the shortest route between the barracks and the
workers districts. (Benjamin, 1935/1999, p. 12). The Haussmann project also involved the

planning of straight avenues as a method of crowd control (artillery could fire down them at
barricaded masses) (Rykwert, 2000, p.91). Scott (1998, p.59) likens the logic behind the
reconstruction of Paris to the process of transforming old-growth forests into scientific forests
designed for unitary fiscal management part of which involves, as Scott emphasies throughout
his book Seeing Like a State, the idea of making a space (and the people in it) legible to whoever
is in power by removing or simplifying inconsistencies, anomalies and local practices to tame
potentially dangerous ceintures sauvages. Legibility affords measurement and standardisation,
and these (from Domesday Book to the standardisation of surnames, to biometric IDs) afford
modelling, regulation and control. Drawing on Hacking (1990), Scott (1998, p.92) suggests that
it is but a small step from a simplified description of society to a design and manipulation of
society, with improvement in mind. If one could reshape nature to design a more suitable forest,
why not reshape society to create a more suitable population?
Returning to the specifics of architectural schemes, New York master builder Robert Moses
low parkway bridges on Long Island are often mentioned in a similar vein to Haussmanns Paris
(Caro, 1975; Winner, 1986). These had the effect of preventing buses (and by implication poorer
people, often minorities) using the parkways to visit the Jones Beach State Park another of
Moses projects. However, Joerges (1999) questions details of the intentionality involved,
suggesting that the story as presented by Winner is more of a parable (Gillespie, 2007, p. 72)
about the embodiment of politics in artefacts an exhortation to recognise that specific features
in the design or arrangement of a device or system could provide a convenient means of
establishing patterns of power and authority in a given setting, (Winner, 1986) than a real
example of architecture being used intentionally to discriminate against certain groups (see also
the forthcoming blog post POSIWID and determinism). Nevertheless, Flint (2009, p.44)
suggests in his book on Jane Jacobs battles with Moses over New York planning, that, at least in
his earlier years, Moses strove to model himself after Baron Haussmann .
*Minton (2009, p.45) interviews a Business Improvement District manager in the UK who tells
her explicitly that High margins come with ABC1s, low margins with C2DEs. My job is to
create an environment which will bring in more ABC1s.

Pig ear skate stoppers near City Hall, London

Disciplinary architecture and design against crime

Where the homeless are ejected from business and retail areas by such
measures as curved bus benches, window-ledge spikes and doorway sprinkler
systems, so skaters encounter rough-textured surfaces, spikes and bumps added
to handrails, blocks of concrete placed at the foot of banks, chains across
ditches and steps, and new, unridable surfaces such as gravel and sand.
Iain Borden, Skateboarding, Space and the City (2001, p.254)

Perhaps difficult to extract from the political dimension of architecture is the notion of
disciplinary architecture, covering everything from designed measures such as anti-homeless
park benches to prison design, via Jeremy Benthams Panopticon (1787) and Foucaults
technologies of punishment (1977). Howell (2001) notes that this is often framed as
defending the general public against undesirable behaviour by other members of the
public in this particular case again, measures to make skateboarding more difficult. Similar

measures may be installed by members of the public to defend their own properties: Flusty
(1997, p. 48) classifies five species of interdictory spaces spaces designed to intercept and
repel or filter would-be users, many of which occur frequently in residential contexts as well as
public spaces: stealthy space areas which have been deliberately concealed from general view;
slippery space spaces with no apparent means of approach; crusty space space that cannot be
accessed because of obstructions; prickly space space which cannot be occupied comfortably
due to measures inhibiting walking, sitting or standing; and jittery space space which is
constantly under surveillance (or threatened surveillance). Some of the ways of achieving these
species of space will be familiar from other examples discussed in this thesis, particularly prickly

Prikka strips, a popular brand of add-on DIY plastic spikes for your wall.
Design against crime has recently received significant attention in the UK via initiatives such as
the Design Against Crime Research Centre at Central Saint Martins (e.g. Ekblom, 1997;
Gamman & Pascoe, 2004; Gamman & Thorpe, 2007) whose work has addressed some highprofile areas such as bicycle theft and bag theft in restaurants and bars (AHRC, 2008) through
innovative product design interventions taking account of the environmental contexts in which
crimes occur. While the focus may be on better products (as was a much earlier programme by
the Design Council focusing on design against vandalism (Sykes, 1979)), the parallel field of
crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) has developed from the early 1970s to
date, focusing on redesigning architectural elements to discourage particular behaviours. In the
UK, compliance with an Association of Chief Police Officers CPTED initiative, Secured by
Design run by ACPO Crime Prevention Initiatives Ltd has, according to Minton (2009,
p.71), become a condition of planning permission for some large residential developments,
leading to the situation where new estates are required to be surrounded by walls with sharp
steel pins or broken glass on top of them, CCTV and only one gate into the estate.
Crowe (2000) provides a practical guide to implementing CPTED with diagrams and design
directives for a wide variety of spaces, including schools and student residences. Poyner (1983),
in a guide which is effectively A Pattern Language for CPTED, outlines 31 patterns addressing

different types of crime in different settings for example, 4.7 Access to rear of house: There
should be no open access from the front to the rear of a house. Access might be restricted to fullheight locked gates, addresses burglary and break-ins. Many of Poyners patterns make use of
the principle of natural surveillance, described in Oscar Newmans influential book Defensible
Space: People and Design in the Violent City* (1972). Natural surveillance implies designing
spaces to afford surveillance opportunities for residents and their agents (Newman, 1972, p.
78) effectively, designing environments so that building users are able to observe others
activities when outside the home, and feel observed themselves (a concept which, applied in the
wider context of digital communications and social media, might be termed peerveillance**).
There should be parallels with Jacobs (1961) concept of eyes on the street although as
Minton (2009) points out, implementing natural surveillance via enclosed, gated communities
where strangers will necessarily stand out means that the residents can become isolated, targets
even for burglars who know that it is unlikely there will be any passers-by (or even passing
police) to see their activities.
Katyal (2002) provides a comprehensive academic review of Architecture as Crime Control,
addressed to a legal and social policy-maker audience, but also interesting because of a follow-up
article taking the same approach to examine digital architecture (see future article). One point to
which Katyal repeatedly returns is the concept of architectural solutions as entities which subtly
reinforce or embody social norms (desirable ones, from the point of view of law enforcement)
rather than necessarily enforce them: Even the best social codes are quite useless if it is
impossible to observe whether people comply with them. Architecture, by facilitating interaction
and monitoring by members of a community, permits social norms to have greater impact. In this
way, the power of architecture to influence social norms can even eclipse that of law, for law
faces obvious difficulties when it attempts to regulate social interaction directly (Katyal, 2002,
p. 1075).
*Defensible space covers restructur[ing] the physical layout of communities to allow
residents to control the areas around their homes. (Newman, 1996)
**The author used Peerveillance for a pattern based on this concept in DwI v.1.0, at the time
(March 2010) finding only one previous use of the term, on Twitter, by Alex Halavais. As of May
2011, the tweet is no longer findable via either Twitter or Google searches.

Implications for designers

Designed environments influence peoples behaviour in a variety of ways,

and some have been designed expressly with this intention, often for political or
crime prevention reasons

This can range from high-level visions of influencing wider social or

community behaviours, to very specific techniques applied to influence

particular behaviours in a particular context; the use of patterns facilitates re-

use of techniques wherever a similar problem recurs

Most patterns involve either the physical arrangement of building

elements positioning, angling, splitting up, hiding, etc or a change in

material properties, either to change peoples perceptions of what behaviour is
possible or appropriate, perhaps by reinforcing or embodying social norms, or
to force certain behaviour to occur or not occur

There are also patterns around aspects of surveillance designing layouts

which facilitate or prevent visibility of activity between groups of people

In practice, patterns may be applied in combination to create different kinds

of space with different effects on behaviour

There is potential for paving the cowpaths strategically through design,

identifying the paths of particular users perhaps a group which is already

performing the desired behaviour and then, by formalising this, making it
easier or more salient or in some way obviously normative, encourage other
users to follow suit

By affecting so completely the way in which people spend their lives, political

or police attempts to control behaviour through the design of environments can

be controversial

Some concepts related to influencing behaviour in the built environment may

be transposed to other designed systems and contexts


3XN (2010) Mind Your Behaviour: How Architecture Shapes Behaviour. 3XN.
AHRC, (2008) Fighting crime through more effective design. Available at

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Alexander, C., Silverstein, M., Angel, S., Ishikawa, S. and Abrams, D. (1975) The Oregon
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Alexander, C., Ishikawa, S., Silverstein, M., Jacobson, M., Fiksdahl-King, I. and Angel, S.
(1977) A Pattern Language. Oxford University Press.
Arace, M. (2006) Dont Pave the Cowpaths. Available at
Bachelard, G. (1964) The Poetics of Space. Orion Press.

Ballard, J.G. (1975) High Rise. Jonathan Cape.

Battelle, J. (2003) The Database of Intentions. Available at
Beale, R. (2007) Slanty design. Communications of the ACM 50(1), p. 1-24
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Reminiscent of a scene from Ballards Super-Cannes, the Philips High Tech Campus also
includes this lake and boardwalk, perhaps affording breakout meetings and secret discussions
away from the earshot of office colleagues, although in full view of the surrounding buildings