EASTER HILL VILLAGE: Some Social Implications of Design by Clare C. Cooper
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EASTER HILL VILLAGE: Some Social Implications of Design

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Ten years after the construction of an award-winning public housing project in the slum of Richmond, California, a sociologist asks residents what they think of the place, and compares the results with the designers' purposes. The results, of course, point in all directions, but Cooper skillfully extracts design considerations from the pettiest details, like the need for private open space and areas in which to do repair work, or laundry considerations, or aspects of pedestrian circulation. The most enlightening comments come from the children since they are forthright about their feelings toward the project as a neighborhood -- too crowded, noisy, dangerous -- while the grown-ups seize on details to sublimate their full sentiments. Cooper's criteria for reviewing the housing complex are set within the existing budgetary restraints so that she is forced to propose a reduction of exterior design work to pay for badly needed larger kitchens and soundproofing of walls. Despite concessions of this sort, and the admitted relativity of responses to questions about likes and dislikes, Cooper has the courage to specify the key design questions, including privacy and space for study, even if the standards are too low. The book successfully infuses technical problems of design with a humanistic concern for the resident -- especially the children; this is a fine accomplishment in a field where many others have succumbed to behavioristic inferences about design or retreated to ""taste is subjective"" mutterings. As Herbert Galls says in his introduction, this is a powerful book, obligatory for all major libraries and academic departments concerned with design and the human sciences.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1975
Publisher: Free Press/Macmillan