Ever heard of William Whyte?

Ah well, its a bit hard to expect you have.

Just to recap if you look at the People for Public Spaces website closely you’ll find a small volume called The Social Life of Small Open Spaces that is well worth a read.

Without prompting or reading that small tome first, one day young Betty from Rokewood did exactly what William might recommend.


She sat and watched and documented how children play in green open spaces…

And here is what she found after they dis-gourged from the bus…

In four snaps Betty has captured most of what it took William Whyte whole book to say. His rules of thumb are…

  • What attracts people most is other people.
  • People like to sit in the sun, and close to other people and watch people and stuff happening.betty 4
  • People like to sit comfortably.
  • Benches are not too good for sitting, but most other places are, like ledges and landscaped edges.
  • Chairs are fabulous however.
  • Outside attractions include sun, wind, trees and water. So in Rokewood 3 out of 4 aint bad.
  • And then there is food nearby, so good planning batman in that shop across the road
  • betty 9The space has to be busy, and it sure seems that way in these shots
  • If you ever wondered how many seats were enough Whyte refers to multiple studies and comes up with between 33 and 38 people will sit per 1oo feet of sitting space
  • And last but perhaps his forgotten rule is children will sit and climb on almost anything except for play equipment or seats


betty 1


One thought on “Ever heard of William Whyte?

  1. The proposed Teesdale community shed ticks all the boxes above and more:
    people always coming and going around the shop; we’ll make the furniture for sun and/or shelter; food nearby and the busiest place in Teesdale.
    It’s a natural and very exciting if we can get it off the ground and watch it fly.

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