For decades, renowned architect Jan Gehl has been at the center of creating vibrant, human- scale public spaces in global cities (…). In his newest venture, together with public-space expert Birgitte Svarre, Gehl explores the field of study that helps us better understand the life that takes place in public spaces and the components that can revitalize neighborhoods.
Jan Gehl talks about two destructive paradigms in city planning. One is about Le Corbusier’s “contemporary city”, beautiful and organitzed cities to be seen from he air, but hardly comfortable to inhabit. And a second one based on the car centric city. Some examples cited by the authors are Brasilia or Dubai.
Nowadays a new paradigm in urban planning, completely opposed to both mentioned above, is beeing implemented in cities like Copenhagen or Melbourne. Even Moscow and New York are triying to get rid of cars in some areas.
“people now want “lively, attractive, safe, sustainable, healthy cities.” Through new research, “we now know the relative importance of rich public life, its value for democracy, public inclusion, and our happiness.” Successful cities are “people-oriented and smaller scale.” This is because “the greatest attraction of cities is other people.”
To plan and design the new city, both autors appeal to:
Researchers had to start from scratch and treat the city as a lab. They had to go out and learn how to really experience a place.”
Svarre said “we know a lot today” because of these people, and their analytical methods still hold water. While new technologies and big data have increased the capacity to collect and analyze data, old-school “observational studies,” which are “cheap and easy to do,” are still important. “Otherwise, you just have lots of data, and then what do you do with that? You can’t replace being there, capturing the nuances.” Svarre said perhaps “we’ve gone from complex back to simple.”
If now you are starving to know more about city planning, public space and Jan Gehl’s vision, do not miss the documentary The Human Scale:
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