English architect Elizabeth Burton has just coauthored a fine book (Inclusive Urban Design: Streets for Life) on designing spaces and neighborhoods to accommodate all ages and abilities. Near the end she notes that she didn’t learn that approach in school:

“I trained as an architect in the 1980s. Then, as now, we were taught to be creative and original…. The worst reason we could give for designing the way we had was that it was ‘what people liked.’ Buildings were viewed as pieces of sculpture rather than environments accommodating people.”

Her book is based primarily on interviews and taking walks with old people around their neighborhoods. Why did she reject her training? “People can generally choose whether or not to view works of art such as paintings and sculptures, and it does not really matter if they hate them. But we are creating homes, buildings, neighbourhoods and town centres people have to live and work in.”