Yet another 'Wonderful Scheme' that was going to make life easier, Might have worked if they'd only listened instead of hiring a "well-known designer." -- Anon Guest
Here's why planned community spaces suck: they're always designed by an older, able-bodied man who is more concerned with aesthetics than practicality. In order to be a Name in the business, they design for beauty in mind. Unfortunately, beauty is both blind and deaf to the needs of anyone not fit, young, or adult.
Stairs installed to improve the fitness of those using a space tend to ignore those who need wheels to get around, or those who cannot lift their legs easily to reach the next riser of a staircase. Bike paths are hazards to those who do not have the wherewithal to ride a bicycle, but still have to use those paths for travel because they cannot or do not own a car. High hedges on the sides of streets may be pretty, but they also block the view of people lower down - in both directions.
Further to the need for aesthetics over practicality - men can pee literally anywhere they find convenient. Thusly, a Name designer of beauteous spaces gives no thought to those with smaller bladders or an extended need for privacy because eliminating body waste includes partial undressing and re-dressing or, indeed, lifting their entire body from one support structure to another. Men are not expected to care for small children, so amenities like Parent's Rooms or changing stations are sparse, if they exist at all. Of these simple things, of these missing things, failures are made. Which was why Sandra had to speak up about this latest in a long line of horrible community centres.
She said, "What about the kids, elderly, and disabled people?" she said.
"What about them?" said the Name designer, thus displaying his casual disregard for thought.
"This is a community space," she said. "What about all the demographics in the community? Young families, grandparents... people who can't walk as fast as -say- you? Where do the kids play?"
For the first time, the Name looked at the little model of white plastic and doll-sized trees. "There's a play park ten blocks down the road..."
"Ten blocks," said Sandra. "Do you know how hard it is to get a toddler to travel ten blocks? Ten blocks with no parking and no public toilets? Do you know how much trouble that would be for a mother who's also pregnant? Or how bad those walkways are for people on wheelchairs? Did you do a study on the crosswalk availability and time given to use them?"
"There's no need to be hysterical about it," said the Head Man.
"I've kept my voice level throughout, sir," said Sandra. "You don't want this space to be a billion-dollar failure any more than the board or the financiers do. I'm merely pointing out some design flaws in this proposal."
"But this looks perfect," said another man who would be making the decisions.
"I know this is hard for you to understand," she said, "but looks really aren't everything." Sandra got subsequently ousted from the meeting and fired from her job. She expected it. A room full of egotistical men don't like being told that they are wrong, no matter how polite you may be at telling them.
But that was okay. She used her severance pay to place a long-term wager on the stock market that the community centre project would be an abysmal failure and a waste of time, money, and effort. She could wait.
And when she was right, as she predicted she would be, she used the money to buy out the company who had fired her. Then, she hired experts to actually consult with the communities they were designing for. Including the children who would be living there. That would be just the first of her multi-billion-dollar successes.
[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / Nejron]
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