When Good Design Meets Design for Good – How to Build with the Users in Mind

good design

When it comes to architecture and urban design we often hear about the designer’s intentions but we hear less often about the impact the design has upon users. But according to John Cary good design must be considered within the web of impacts on users, stakeholders, and community.

At every level, design is a matrix of relationships—from clients who make decisions about projects to designers who bring life to those clients’ visions. In between, in a health-care setting, for example, are users who range from doctors and nurses to patients and family visitors, among many others. Then there are those who give physical form to the structures: construction workers, artisans, craftspeople, and scores of others.

Consider the picture above – a corridor built of natural materials that incorporates sunlight as a design element to create a pleasing, calming and wholesome environment. This is part of the St. Jerome’s Centre, a home for disadvantaged children in Kenya. One of the requirements of the center was security, meaning that the building had to be constructed like a fortress with no outside windows. To compensate for this the designers built courtyards with screens to filter sunlight. The materials were produced with sustainable methods, using discarded materials from local manufacturing.

The effect of St. Jerome’s Centre is to give street children not just a place to be, but a place to be whole and thrive.

Read more of John Cary’s thoughts on design as a public good at City Lab.