Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Bad Designs: The Path of Least Resistance

Bad Designs: The Path of Least Resistance
[人因工程 ]

Bad Designs: The Path of Least Resistance

This photograph shows the view from the entrance for one building to the entrance for another. A lot of people walk between these two doors. Whoever designed this court yard designed the walkways so that they wrap around both sides of the court yard.

Notice the dirt path between the two doors? (See arrow.) People have created this path by stepping over the wall and walking across what used to be grass. This spontaneously created path shows where the walkway should have been in the first place.

Design Recommendation:

Many people will take the path of least resistance. Figure out where people are going to walk before putting in a walkway.

Editor's Comments:

The editor had the good fortune to attend architecture school at one of the finest schools of design in the United States -- William Marsh Rice University in Houston, Texas. During Freshman Week one of our professors shared a fascinating bit of trivia with the entering class of "archies" i.e., architecture majors. He told us how the unusually convenient pink pebble aggregate sidewalks diagonally criss-crossing the lush green campus came into being. The original campus architects, it seems, purposely delayed completing the sidewalks. Instead they waited until the students and faculty had a chance to use the buildings for several months. They then walked the grounds with a set of site plans noting where the grass had been worn smooth by pedestrian traffic, then specified that was where the final sidewalks were to be laid out. Design professionals talk about "iterative design", generally to little effect. The editor was lucky enough to encounter a genuine instance of iterative design early in his architectural career. Sad to say he would encounter very few additional examples in the years to come.

-- Bevin Chu

Explanation: Bad Designs: The Path of Least Resistance
Illustration: The Path of Least Resistance
Author: Michael J. Darnell
Affiliation: Bad Human Factors Designs
Publication Date: 1998-1999
Original Language: English
Editor: Bevin Chu, Registered Architect

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