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Dimension Equals Comfort:

First Forty Feet finds comfort in working with people


We put people at the center of our design process. Yes, this absolutely means working with communities, listening, and learning about what people need. Our work cannot proceed without understanding the nuances of a community, this is how our practice creates a better city. 


In addition, our studio understands the importance of working with people’s dimensions.  

Remember Vitruvian Man, the drawing created by Leonardo DaVinci that demonstrated the blend of mathematics and art during the Renaissance and proclaimed a deep understanding of proportion. We follow the same belief that urban design and placemaking must respond to the proportions and scale of the human body. Our studio believes that there is a threshold of a dimension where people feel comfortable, but when that dimension is extended too far to the extremes, then spaces will not endure.


We adopt this approach due to our proven research and study of successful places from around the world. By studying how public spaces operate, we can better understand situations and comparables to help our team design spaces that work. Paley Park in New York City, Piazza di Spagna in Rome, Central Square in Seaside, Henry Street in Dublin, Hosier Lane in Melbourne, or Strietzelmarkt in Dresden, Germany all has distinct attributes that make them some of the most wonderful public spaces in the world. Some of their attributes, proximities, adjacencies, and placemaking rules-of-thumb are universal and recognizable in other places in the world.


Much like our body’s thermal comfort zone, there is a degree of comfort that our built environment can create if we understand how people respond to enclosures, proximity, distances, height, and volumes. Herein lies the ‘science’ of placemaking (See Art + Science of Placemaking Insights), our public life observations and experiments record how people feel under certain types of environments. Through the years our studio has compiled a comprehensive catalog of spaces around the world, illustrating the common threads of beloved places that people love and cherish.


The ideal height for a canopy over a mews.


The ideal height for a garden stoop or porch


The ideal length of a retail street 


The minimum number of edges fronting successful public squares or urban plazas


The ideal right-of-way distance for an urban street


A safe distance for pedestrian street crossings


The minimum distance needed the gain quality air and light between buildings


The ideal city block dimension for a walkable city district

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