Giving design a redefine

es around it,” Harrow explained. “You have to look at how you bring people to accept the new design and technology, which is a good tie-in with what we just heard about the LUTZ Pathfinder pods.

If people don’t want to use your technology it will just stand there. And, in the case of the ambulances, for some people it will be their last journey, so you might as well make sure it’s a nice one…!”     

Moving on from the design of vehicles to the design of the cities they move through, Tim Stonor, Managing Director of urban planning consultants Space Syntax also emphasised the need for designers to put people first.

Comparing the successful blend of residential property, shops, restaurants and greenery along the Parisian thoroughfare of the Champs-Élysées with the characterless, ugly sprawl of cities in which roads have been allowed to divide whole sectors, Stonor argued that planners had all too often lost sight of a city’s central purpose: to bring people together.

By using spatial technology to measure the amount of connectivity that each street has in relation to its particular city, Stonor said his company had unearthed a number of striking similarities that could be seen in cities all over the world, with the most connected streets attracting retailers and generating high property prices, while the least connected streets drew in burglars and correspondingly low prices.

“Our grid-like human brains seem to naturally gravitate towards the most connected streets, so if you have hundreds of years on your hands, you can just have very loose planning regulations and let the cities sort themselves out – but of course that’s not going to work in today’s world because of the scale of growth that we’re seeing.”

Providing examples from London to Jeddah via Changchun and Perth, Stonor urged urban planners to make better use of modelling in order to identify the areas most in need of improved flow.

“When you’ve got that flow, then you can ask what specific kind of transport do you put down that road. That’s when it comes. Space first, and transport follows.”

Following on from Monday’s “Policy Futures” workshop, “Designing the Future” was the second event to be held as part of the two-week Imagine Festival taking place at the TSC’s new Imovation Centre in Milton Keynes. A further tech talk, examining the Sentiment Mapping social media project, is due to take place on Wednesday before attention switches to the Imovation Centre’s official opening on Thursday.

For more information, please see the Imagine Festival website: www.imaginefestival.co.uk

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