In the ‘Street Life Project’ research conducted by William Whyte and his fellow researches, the study was aimed at discovering why some of the urban spaces experienced overcrowding. In order to accomplish the study objective, the researchers based their exercise on observation and interview techniques in order to understand how the choices made by urban planners influenced the appearance and the use of urban spaces. Through the study, the researchers managed to make discoveries that would be useful in the later years in maintaining balance during planning especially where social spaces had to be constricted. The observation process was achieved through mounting of cameras in different locations, beginning with plazas. The aim of the researches while doing this was to determine the choices people made in the use of plazas in order to ascertain whether the use of those urban places was by design or by choice. At the beginning of the study, the researchers realized that some of the uses to which urban spaces were put were mainly based on the choices made by the users themselves. For instance, children preferred to play on the streets not because of lack of playgrounds but because they enjoyed it more.
When the researchers attempted to determine the factors that may contribute to space usability, it was realized that neither space availability nor aesthetics nor shape contributed to the attraction that people experienced towards a space. On the contrary, people were more likely to be attracted by availability of sitting space such as benches, chairs, steps and ramps among others. Places with such additions hosted more people than other spaces. Other factors such as the sun, wind, trees and water also contribute significantly to usability of city spaces.
From the findings made by Whyte and his fellow researchers, there has been a paradigm shift in the design of urban spaces. Contemporary urban landscapes are therefore more likely to be designed by keeping in mind not only the architectural features such as the shapes, sizes and visual appeal of the spaces but also in consideration of other factors such as the attitudes of the potential users. The application of triangulation in urban design is one of the most essential features of contemporary urban planning that resulted from the research conducted by Whyte and others. In this way, urban planners have been able to keep their constructions attractive while at the same time maintaining a balance between the empty spaces and the heavily used ones.