My name is Tim Stonor. I’m an architect and urban planner. I’m the Managing Director of Space Syntax, a design company that has pioneered the use of digital tools in the creation of urban plans and building designs since our founding in 1989.
我是蒂姆·斯托纳，一名建筑师和城市规划师。我是 Space Syntax 的董事总经理，Space Syntax自1989年成立以来一直率先使用数字工具来创建城市规划和建筑设计。
Let me start by saying that I’m delighted to be asked to participate in this series of interviews.
People are the principal focus of our attention at Space Syntax: how they move, where they stop, sit and interact with each other, whether that’s inside buildings or in streets and public spaces.
在 Space Syntax，人是我们关注的主要焦点，无论是在建筑物内还是在街道和公共场所，人们的行动轨迹、在哪里停下、在哪里坐下并发生怎样的互动都是我们关注的重点。
We design the spaces that people occupy and our goal is to improve the performance of the built environment: ⁃it’s social performance ⁃it’s economic performance
我们设计人们居住的空间，我们的目标是提高建筑环境的性能：包括社交表现、 经济效益、 环保性能。
This is because badly designed places have costs: poor footfall in retail areas, social isolation, loneliness and obesity.
Whereas on the other hand well designed places help support communities, are good for business and good for our health because they encourage walking and cycling - and they’re good for the environment because they support low carbon mobility, including public transport.
But unfortunately there are too many places that have been badly planned and badly designed ， and I think this routes they prefer. What is needed to persuade people to walk and cycle rather than drive. And professionals don’t also appreciate the consequences of their plans on health, on the environment and on the performance of business.
We undertake three main activities at Space Syntax: First, we do research to study how buildings and cities work; we undertake our own in-house research and we also partner extensively with university research teams
我们在 Space Syntax 开展三项主要活动：首先，我们研究建筑物和城市的运作方式，我们不仅开展自己的内部的研究工作，还与大学研究团队广泛合作。
Second, we then develop technologies to transfer the findings of research into practical tools for planners and designers; again, we have in-house software development team and we also undertake joint ventures with other technology companies.
Third, and most importantly, we use our research and our tools to design new buildings, new public spaces, new urban quarters and even entirely new cities, projects that put people first. In keeping with the theme of this interview series you could, I suppose, call these buildings of the people and cities of the people.
As architects, urban designers and town planners, we lead multi-disciplinary teams and we also provide specialist input to other design teams.
We work on projects all over the world, including across China. These projects vary in scale and our clients come from both the public and private sectors. Why connects them is that they address a common set of challenges:
The first of these is the Climate Emergency: transport carbon is a huge contributor to the total carbon emissions of cities.
The next key challenge is the Health Emergency: too many people are obese and poor planning is a major factor. So walkability is key to an active lifestyle and this means designing connected street networks with pedestrian and cycling infrastructure. It also means putting everyday uses closer to where people live: shops, schools, leisure and entertainment uses and, more than anything, jobs. Poor planning forces people into long commutes that damage the physical and mental health of people.
Our third challenge is perhaps the most interesting of all: how do you make cities “buzz”? By this I mean how do you create thriving life in streets and buildings? Because, after all, this is what cities are ultimately for: we have cities because they bring people together to interact socially and economically. Cities are amazing engines for human transaction: they produce experiences, create ideas and form human relationships that develop our economies, our societies and our cultures.
When they prioritise slow mobility such as walking and cycling ⁃and when they mix land uses. So the mission of Space Syntax is to create thriving life through the development, application and dissemination of tools and techniques that demonstrate how to create slow, connected and mixed use cities.
I wrote the 《Pandemic Design Diary》 back in April 2020, when the world was turned upside down by the Coronavirus. It seemed to many people that our lives were falling apart but it occurred to me that this crisis was an opportunity to rethink some of the assumptions that have been wrongly made about how to plan cities.
And I identified seven kinds of design opportunity to rethink the way we plan everything from cities to building interiors - so let me briefly review them and consider the degree to which they’ve been acted on - or not.
1. In towns & cities I first suggested that traffic speeds should be reduced to 30kph to discourage speeding on emptier streets during lockdown & to keep the air clean, the sound low & the accident rates down after the “return to work”.
I’m pleased to say that the UK government acted swiftly with policy and funding to encourage towns and cities to implement projects that encouraged walking and driving. Among these was a project I’ve helped to create for a 30kmh speed limit across the town of Faversham, with a population of 20,000 people. This has now been in place for over a year and is the first case of an entire town in England being covered by a 30kmh limit.
We now know from surveys that vehicle speeds have reduced across the town and that local people support these changes. And contrary to some thinking, lower speed limits do not always lead to longer journeys because slower traffic often moves more efficiently through busy junctions.
Now Faversham’s been a success but there haven’t been enough similar towns and villages making these sorts of changes and so the problem persists. Further funding is coming forward and change is therefore happening so I’m confident it will eventually be in place across all of the United Kingdom, as it is increasingly being implemented across the world – it’s just a question of how quickly.
So my overall takeaway is that the most successful projects were the ones that were already being planned before the Coronavirus pandemic. My advice therefore is to anticipate the next crisis - don’t just wait for it to happen!
2. On wide streets My second design recommendation was to widen footways to improve physical distancing in the short term and then to encourage greater pedestrian flows in the long term. In addition to this I recommended that roadways be narrowed to provide cycle lanes to support physical activity during lockdown and to encourage active commuting on the return to work.
We saw this happening all over the world, from New York to London and from Berlin to Sydney to Auckland. 我们看到这种情况在世界各地发生，从纽约到伦敦，从柏林到悉尼再到奥克兰。
It certainly helped to widen footways in the short term to give people confidence that there was more overall room for them to walk in – and new bike lanes have given people an alternative to using the bus or the subway.
But sadly some of this infrastructure was then removed when infection rates fell. Some administrations went back to their old ways of doing things.
On the other hand, cities like Paris have used the Coronavirus epidemic to accelerate the move that was already underway towards walking and cycling, putting in extensive bike lanes and now creating a citywide speed limit of 30kmh.
3. In public spaces My third recommendation was to provide more shade, more seats and more WiFi in public spaces. Furthermore, to place more seats on the widened footways I just mentioned, to provide opportunities for people to answer phonecalls, to do work and to socialise outdoors where there is better ventilation than indoors.
And this is certainly something that we’ve seen happen, with the space between buildings becoming increasingly normal for business meetings. And I think we’ll see much more of it in the future because people have realised now that it may not only be safer to be outside but it may also be much more pleasurable. The office of the future is outside the building as well as inside it.
4. In shops My fourth recommendation was for shopkeepers to focus on customer experience: to have more space for interacting with the objects that customers are thinking of buying, as well as for them being physically distant from each other. To have more space, for example, to try on clothing and more staff to support customer interactions. More space to let people make calls and do work – in other words to have more hybrid work/leisure experiences.
And then to have less space for stock - for storage - because, increasingly, storage is happening offsite and, in addition, delivery can be done directly from warehouse to house without people having to carry purchases along with them.
To date I don’t think we’ve seen this happen as much as I might have anticipated because I think shops are still recovering from being closed, being opened, being closed again and then when they are open they’re perhaps still using their old business models. My expectation is that the shift will continue to be gradual as new technologies come along that, for example, will make it easier to try clothes on using augmented and virtual realities.
5. In offices In offices, my fifth recommendation is certainly one where we have seen significant change in the last two years and this was to improve the design of office spaces, knowing that, with people working from home and enjoying all the comforts of home working – including technology that is often better than that found at work – then the office and the design of offices needs to step up to compete with working from home.
As part of this, I suggested that designers focus on creating space for informal interaction and for team-based activities, rather than individual working, because since so many meetings have moved to the cloud – to online - most solo, task-based activities can be done outside or from home.
I encouraged designers to question every square centimetre of their designs, so that everywhere space in the office can serve at least two functions and so that any surplus space might then be sublet to other organisations.
I recommended that businesses even encourage staff members to bring in their dogs and cats in order to recreate the seemingly informal “random” distractions that occur at home. We’ve become used to these interruptions and many people have found that they help with their alertness, with their creativity and with their online relations with other people.
6. At home My sixth recommendation was focused on the home and this was to create webcam-friendly backdrops and microphone-friendly soft surfaces, not only for lockdown but for the long run because home is now an office and a it’s now a broadcast studio. It’s also a school. It’s a gym.
And I suggested that these features should be designed in to new homes and used as selling features because purchasers will expect them.
And we can now see this happening. In almost every sales brochure I look at for new homes, our apartments and houses are being sold not only as places of shelter with our families but as proper workplaces.
7. Finally, my seventh design recommendation was that places should be provided everywhere – in buildings and in public space - where people can be with others: places where they can be simultaneously ‘spatial’ and ‘transpatial’.
And we’re definitely seeing this, especially in offices, where small pods are now normal – small rooms where people can go online for meetings that were not at all common two years ago.
We’re also seeing this in public space – people participating in often multi-person online meetings – where you can see from their phone screens that they are in a work meeting, even though they may be sat in the park.
We’ve therefore seen many new human behaviours being provoked by the coronavirus. And we’ve seen a variety of new, sometimes sophisticated responses being made by designers to meet people’s basic needs. And these basic needs are to be with others, to learn from them, to surprise eachother by discovering new ideas and to create together to form the future.
And so I’m increasingly confident that - as I predicted when I wrote the Pandemic Design Diary in April 2020 - we will not go back. People will only continue to adapt to new ways of living. And therefore our roles as urban planners, architects & interior designers, will continue to be to observe, to react, to experiment, to assess, to respond and to innovate. And that, if we do so, we will properly be supporting patterns of thriving life in our buildings and in our cities.