Gehl Architects is offering a ‘Tools for Change’ master-class in Venice between November 9&10. Day 1 will be full of inspiring talks with lessons-learned from New York, Christchurch, Gothenburg and Sydney, group discussions and working sessions on the application of knowledge in the participant’s own cities and projects. Day 2 will utilize Venice as a living classroom to show how to measure people behavior patterns through ‘Public Space, Public Life’ surveys. RSVP by October 12 to firstname.lastname@example.org
Realdania hosted a great conference in Copenhagen with wonderful speakers such as Bruce J. Katz from the Brookings Institution, Richard Burdett from LSE and Senior Consultant with Gehl Architects Rob Adams, City Architect of Melbourne.
Realdania has taken forward a brave scenario for Denmark 2050 basing its growth on a green sustainable economy. Bruce furthermore underlined the importance of regions as drivers of economic sustainable growth, and how regions need to collaborate in order to compete. On an urban level Bruce argued for a densification of urban nodes in cities and importantly how the new green economy requires a focus on place making, without going in to much detail about what that might be.
Rob showed on the other hand the great Melbourne story of the past 25 years of sustainable development in Melbourne based on local qualities, and local culture and memory, giving meaning to the understanding of what place making is really about – creating cities that are authentic and sustainable not only in an economic and environmental sense, but certainly also in terms of social sustainability and quality of life for people.
This factor was furthermore underlined by the example of London by Richard, now using their Olympic opportunity to stitch together the eastern part of London by way of providing more diversity of housing stock and parks, reconnecting the urban tissue of land, urban form and people.
Read the full Realdania report here in Danish: http://www.realdania.dk/Presse/Nyheder/2012/Rapport2050_270312.aspx
Thank you for hosting a great event in Copenhagen!
In this autumn Gehl Architects has been invited by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and by UN Habitat to participate in workshops and conferences related to future publications for UNECE and UN habitat. Helle Søholt was invited as a keynote speaker to the 2011 PEP Symposium in Geneva. A conference organized by UNECE, the overall focus was on urban design and innovative urban mobility. I was invited to participate in a small expert group meeting held at Chateau de Karreveld, a picturesque castle in Brussels, Belgium.The Expert Group meeting served as a platform to gather expert input for an updated Strategy in Urban Mobility for UN Habitat as well as on a draft chapter of the Global Report.
Currently UN Habitat is preparing a Global Report on Strategy for Urban Mobility,scheduled for release in autumn 2012.
The UNECE was set up in 1947 by The Economic and Social Council. It is one of five regional commissions of the United Nations. UN habitat was established in 1978 and has its headquarters at the United Nations Office at Nairobi, Kenya. It is mandated by the United Nations General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities.
Gehl Architects is delighted to contribute to a trans-global discussion about the future of cities in collaboration with UN Habitat and with the UNECE
People first transportation in the 21st century?
As part of the OECD, the International Transport Forum’s annual Summit is the place for a vibrant exchange of ideas about recent developments and the future of transport. As the unique global platform that brings together Ministers, decision-makers, experts and practitioners from around the world and from all modes of transport, the International Transport Forum has established itself as the leading global mobility event.
This year, the focus of debate is “Transport for Society”. It has been impressive to hear so many ministers of Transport, academics, and practitioners talk about prioritizing the needs of people in transport planning. It is also encouraging to hear more and more panelists and speakers talk about the need to focus on integrating land use planning and human scale urban design together with complex transport networks.
It is exactly these issues that Founding Partner at Gehl Architects, Helle Søholt focused on in the two panels that she participated in during the Forum. In both Keeping it Clean – Transport, Health and the Environment and Meeting People’s Needs in Policy and Planning, Helle emphasized the need to balance fast transport with slow mobility and to complement capital intensive mega projects with non-motorized mobility improvements. Helle contributed to the esteemed panel including Gao Hongfeng, Vice Minister of Transport in China and Jeffrey Sachs, Director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University in New York.
Helle emphasized that all public transit riders and motorists begin their journey as pedestrians and therefore the transit and automobile network can only be as good as the pedestrian network that brings them to other modes of transit.
The key is to provide dignified choice and multi-faceted options for mobility. In integrating these systems and promoting safety, comfort, convenience in moving through the city and inviting people to meet and spend time in public spaces, we can come a long way toward making cities for people. Yet a change of mindset still needs to occur where decision makers consider proximity as well as density, quality of experience as well as capacity, safety as well as reliability. This is the approach of the Our Cities Ourselves campaign, developed in collaboration with ITDP and also on display at the ITF Forum.
Helle argued that we can still accommodate for motorists and public transit riders by prioritizing proximity high quality conditions for pedestrians and cyclists. But experience from around the world shows the converse is not true; we cannot create good environments for people by prioritizing the needs of motorists and public transport capacity alone.
Earlier this week, professor Jan Gehl was giving the closing keynote at The Economists conference in London, Creating tomorrow’s liveable cities. View the full programme and the other speakers at the conference here.
Well-being, community cohesion and a thriving local economy are now high on the agenda for today’s citizens. Intelligent policies and design for urban areas can provide answers, in one way or another, to all of these concerns and more; while stimulating local economies and creating jobs becomes more important than ever against a background of budgetary constraints and slower economic growth. A new government in the UK and a new austerity budget will dictate the climate in which urban planning and regeneration policies are formed but, as local governments begin to take this into account, what will tomorrow’s priorities for urban living be?
The spirit of ’Let’s do it’ emanates from all the decisionmakers, Jeff Risom and I have met and made presentations to during our 10 day long trip to India.
Beforehand I had been told by my good Indian friend, architect Sanjay Prakash, that Indian city and government officials were hard to impress. And certainly Mr. Asheesh Sharma, the municipal commissioner (IAS) of the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation, Maharashtra, seemed less than impressed during my whole presentation on 21st century housing based on the best practice case of Bo01 in Malmö. And yet, his first reaction afterwards were the words: “How can we take this forward?”
The same happened in Chennai (former Madras) some days earlier. Initiated with the playing of the Tamil Nadu state anthem, Jeff and I gave a presentation on Copenhagen cycling best practice to the mayor of this 8 million people city, Mr. M. Subramanian, the City Corporation Commissioner, Mr. Rajesh Lakhoni, and a host of city councillors. After our presentation the very lively and empathic mayor gave a talk (in tamil) about his reflections on cycling in Chennai and referring to his own trips to Europe, where he had had the opportunity first hand to witness the potential of cycling in cities, he boldly stated, that Chennai would have its first dedicated cycle tracks in nothing less than 20 days.
Check out some of the news clips on Gehl Architects visit to Chennai:
Gehl Architects are visiting India on request of the Institute for Transport and Development Policy (ITDP). In the case of Chennai also Chennai City Connect, a Chennai based non-profit organization, have been responsible for the invitation and for the many presentations and meetings, we have been part of while in Chennai.
See below a list of the activities we have been performing since entering India on the 17th august:
17th august: Meeting with professor Dinesh Mohan and M. Muthaia on Chennai history and urban development in India
17th august: Lecture at Anna University, School of Architecture and Planning
18th august: Presentation to the Tamil Nadu Urban Development Foundation (TNUDF)
19th august: Presentation to the Chennai Metro Rail Limited
20th august: Lecture for the Mayor M. Subramanian, the City Corporation Commissioner, Mr. Rajesh Lakhoni, and city councillors
20th august: Presentation to the Chief Secretary, Tamil Nadu State, Mr. K. Sripathy
20th august: Lecture for Executive Committee members of Chennai City Connect and Marg representatives at the Sheraton, sponsored by Marg Limited
21st august: Workshop with Tamil Nadu Urban Development Foundation (TNUDF) and Jones Lang LaSalle on pedestrianisation of T. Nagar
23rd august: Presentation to the Chief Commissioner Asheesh Sharma, of the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC), Maharashtra and the CEO Suhas Diwase, Pimpri Chinchwad New Town Development Authority (PCNTDA) and other city officials
23rd august: Lecture to ITDP staff at local office in Pimpri
24th august: Two presentations at seminar with delegates from Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC), Pimpri Chinchwad New Town Development Authority (PCNTDA), builders, architects and planners
The reception of the thoughts and practices we have shown in all of these lectures and presentations has been very welcoming. The notion of people-friendly development and the need for the introduction of new planning principles to succeed the traditional modernistic planning principles is warmly welcomed by the Indians.
At the same time we on our side have to acknowledge that the urban context, societal circumstances and even the economic structures are indeed very different from the context, circumstances and structures, we rely on when dealing with cities in both Denmark, Europe and most anywhere else. India seems to be a case of its own.
The little we have seen granted, we still are left with an impression of a country and of cities where growth is staggering, be it in numbers of people, numbers of vehicles and even kind and type of vehicles, and be it in pressure on the land and on its ressources, and on the structures that try to keep this extraordinary country together.
Even understanding the importance and scale of the so-called informal economy is mindblowing to a person coming from the US, as Jeff, and from Denmark, as myself. Poverty, as we have witnessed in slum developments in both Chennai and Pimpri, is evident. The relation of the informal economy and the informal settlements to the larger urban context is, to say the least, complicated. That the lifestyles of some, cannot be maintained without the help of cheap labour supplied by the others, the slumdwellers, is openly accepted. But it is also evidently hard to deal with for planners as well as politicians and city officials when redeveloping existing cities or even planning and building new cities and towns.
During our visit we have been discussing pedestrianization, improving conditions for cyclists and implementation of better cycling infrastructure as well as raising awareness on cycling as a healthy, sustainable and effective mobility form, and also how to develop people-friendly housing developments for the 21st century.
And also during our visit we have been exposed to many issues that seem to be particular for the growing megacities of the developing world, issues that call for their own context-based solutions to be developed and where the example of Copenhagen as a livable city, sometimes falls short of the realities that people are dealing with in a society such as the Indian. Thus even if we think we still have a point in pushing the issue of a more people-friendly planning in a context such as India, we must also make it a point to learn more about the megacity context in order to find ways in which the principles of people-friendly planning become more applicable in for example an Indian context.
That said, I must say that the visit in general and the people in particular have been an extraordinary experience. The entrepreneurial, warm-hearted and extremely humoristic Indians have been a joy to get to know.
A special thanks for organizing the whole trip and for taking such good care of us goes to Shreya Gadepalli and the staff of ITDP India, that we have met, as well as to Raj Cherubal and Balchand Parayath of Chennai City Connect.