A good example of bad design | MIT Center for Civic Media

A good example of bad design

Here’s a good example of bad design

The city of Boston is developing “parklets” -- mini-parks in tiny spaces, roughly the size of two parking spaces. They are supposed to be lilliputian urban oases. So far they’ve completed two, in Jamaica Plain and Mission Hill, with a third due for Allston.

But the results have been less than stellar, as this story by Boston Globe staffer Martine Powers makes clear. Rather than collaborate with the local neighborhood residents or business owners, as some other cities have done, Boston just plopped the parklets down with little or no direction from locals.

The end result is something of a waste. The parklets don’t get used. People aren’t even sure what the heck the parklets are all about.

For instance, the parklet pictured in the story has alleged benches -- if you are wondering where, check out the rounded wooden bumps. Yes, those are supposed to be benches. But no one knows what they are supposed to be … and just as bad, they are uncomfortable. (btw, if you have access, the comments at the end of the story are fascinating.

Parklet in Jamaice Plain

If the city had asked, it’s clear there are plenty of people around with strong design opinions about how to makes these parklets work.)

So who’s doing the same thing -- but better? Well, there’s San Francisco, which uses collaborative design, and gets the neighbors and interested groups involved (thanks, Rodrigo Davies). Engaged users + engaged designers = a collaborative design success.