Luxembourg is a beautiful city with a strong presence of history and beautiful green valleys between the different plateaus that accommodates the city fabric. The scale of the city centre is low and quite dense with beautiful public spaces and pedestrian streets. But Luxembourg also has a number of challenges especially around mobility; for example biking is considered almost impossible because of the topography (traversing the up to 40m difference between the plateaus is hard work for both pedestrians and bicyclists). The hope is that the planned new elevators at central nodes in the city will help to promote biking as the most efficient, healthy and sustainable daily transport mode.
Jan Gehl visited Luxembourg in the spring of 2011 and introduced people oriented planning as a means to create living, sustainable, healthy and diverse cities. Gehl Architects was then invited by the city of Luxembourg to give a capacity building program ‘Cities for People’ in February 2012. The main aim of the program was to kick start a change of mind-set, from traffic planning to people planning. Throughout the 5 days program we introduced theory, methods and tools to put people in the centre of planning, specifically focusing on mobility and sociability. The program was a mix of theory, best practice-presentations, workshop exercises and field work, a public lecture and interviews for local media.
The City had invited planners from different departments of the city administration, traffic engineers, the city manager, the architectural foundation, planners from state planning departments and cultural- and event-planners. Bringing together people from different departments and make them cooperate and share knowledge was a big success. People working with urban planning in different departments and from different perspectives got an occasion to meet each other in person and to discuss the city’s visions, strategies and the means to improve the public realm. They got a shared experience, and the same tools and references to use in their future work in the city of Luxembourg – from a shared people first perspective.
Gehl Architects is looking forward to the next steps taken by the city of Luxembourg.