UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Social effects of subdivision design : a study in micro-ecology. Williams, Robert Arthur


This Thesis was prompted by the belief that most town planners in their creation of the physical environment generally do not realize that they are also creating a social environment. This is particularly true of the sub-division design aspect of planning. In order to show that the local physical environment as created by subdivision design does affect local relationships, a planned veterans' housing project in East Vancouver was studied. The underlying reason for choosing the veterans' project, Renfrew Heights, was because the tenants were quite a homogeneous group as a result of the entry requirements of the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation. This being the case, the effects of the design itself could be more easily determined. It was believed that people in the lower socio-economic groups were more affected by environment than those in the higher socioeconomic groups. Allied with this thought was the belief that the community of interest in areas like Renfrew was often the community itself. Because of these beliefs and the homogeneity of the community, the Renfrew project was chosen. The basic thesis of the study was similar to Robert E. Parks' definition of human ecology - that man's relationships with man are affected by environment. It was proposed that at the neighbourhood level local friendships were affected by four basic physical factors. It was proposed that these four physical factors were; (1) distance between houses; (2) differences in elevation or vertical distance; (3) the use that the distance is put to, or intensity of use; (4) orientation of houses or the way they face. A questionnaire was prepared and housewives were interviewed personally in order to determine what the local friendship pattern was in various parts of the project. An analysis of the questionnaire showed that local friendships were affected by the four physical factors. The need for further social research is stressed, particularly the social aspects of planning, in order to see if we are really planning for the people. It is concluded that it is upon this area of study that the future of town planning depends.

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