Jan Gehls book “Life Between Buildings ” was first published in 1971, and it continues to be a widely used handbook on the relationship between public spaces and the social life in cities. It is published in many versions and by now has been translated into 20 languages.
Read Ralph Erskines preface to the UK edition from 1986:
“This is a book of quite exceptional importance for those who wish to deepen their understanding of the purposes of community planning and architecture.
In 1971, the year of the first edition, Jan Gehl was one of those lone protagonists for the humane values that he so excellently studies, formulates, and illustrates. Since my first acquaintance with Jan Gehl and his thoughts, I have felt a deep kinship with and a respect for his insight into how architecture can serve people well.
More than a decade later we can discern an increased interest among architects and others in these values he so eminently defends. Further, over the years Jan Gehl’s message has been developed with increased concentration and here achieves the characteristic of timeless truth.
As before, this is a book that is a great inspiration to me in my work, and I look upon it as one of the classics for all professional or amateur students of architecture and community building, regardless of their age and background, or how short or long their experience may be.
It is of the utmost importance that we are constantly reminded that the so useful art of architecture achieves its greatest potential when it is most beautifully attuned not only to spectacular special needs but also to the undramatic and even intimate everyday needs of people when they are functioning individually or in groups. It is also essential that we remember that it is the everyday situations that are important and that shape the major part of our lives and our cities.
Jan Gehl reminds us of this in a fascinating, pleasurable, and comprehensible way. It is gratifying to think that now, when translated into English, his wisdom will be accessible to more people than before.”