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The documentary, The Human Scale, has been selected for the Hot Docs Festival in Toronto and will be screened several times in May. If you happen to find yourself in Toronto, we invite you to go and see the film. Our own Culture & Communication Manager, Vannesa Ahuactzin, will be attending the screening on May 5th at 9 p.m. For tickets, locations and further information click on the link:

http://www.hotdocs.ca/film/title/human_scale

A neighbourhood street in Palermo Viejo

A neighbourhood street in Palermo Viejo

Project manager at Gehl Architects, Louise Vogel Kielgast, has spent the past 3 and a-half months in Buenos Aires. Aside from appreciating the very unique urban character that characterizes Buenos Aires one theme was recurrent in most conversations: seguridad – from discussions over the choice of neighborhood to live in (“Why have you chosen to live in this neighborhood (Palermo Soho) and not Recoleta or Puerto Madero?”) to choice of holiday destination (“Punta del Este is great because it’s safe”) to general discussions of the development of Buenos Aires (“the city is just not so safe anymore..”) to urban planning discussions (“before addressing anything else we need to think about security”). The issue of safety or security is not unique to Buenos Aires – rather it seems to be one of the most pressing issues to tackle in many cities around the world (and definitely in Latin America) and thus one to be addressed. But the many comments kept me puzzled. Is Buenos Aires really that unsafe or is it also people’s perceptions of insecurity that are on the rise? And what is the most appropriate response to this inseguridad?

Whether there’s a discrepancy between statistics on safety and people’s perceptions of security is debatable, but the important thing is that statistics as well as perceptions influence the way that the city evolves and the ways that people generally perceive and use the city. In recent years the number of street police has increased tremendously in Buenos Aires, but the issue of security also manifests itself in other ways. Many of the new apartment buildings that are being built these years are small gated communities with a fence around, or if that is not possible, they will at least have security personnel who oversee people leaving and entering. This type of development is taking place both when renewing older neighborhoods and when building new city areas on the outskirts of the city. Apparently people are not only one of people’s greatest joys but also one of people’s fears.

When fighting security in cities like Buenos Aires, these fears must be taken seriously, but there seems to be a risk of escalating fear and crime if this gated community trend continues. Could we perhaps not fight back these trends by stressing and reinforcing the joy side of being with other people? Areas like Palermo Viejo that are quiet and walkable yet extremely lively and full of people who enjoy the many attractive public spaces with cafés, shops, restaurants, markets, children playing etc. demonstrate that people do like meeting other people in the public space. But it seems like these types of urban environments are taken somewhat for granted, and perhaps this is a place to start? Perhaps we need to create more awareness of and nurture the urban qualities that these types of neighborhoods offer. This is a task that politicians and planners can’t handle alone; the awareness has to reach a broader public – reach all those people who spend time in the city every day, and who eventually have to use and take care of the public spaces.

Another Latin American city, Bogota, has successfully up-graded many of its public spaces, thus demonstrating the potential of public space to act as a social equalizer in the city. Improving streets for people to walk and public spaces for people to spend time in is not a luxury, but a prerequisite for people (of different social and cultural backgrounds) to meet and through these meetings possibly minimizing the growing fear between people.

The City of Buenos Aires is currently taking the first steps of implementing a comprehensive plan for Micro Centro, which aims at making this part of the city more pedestrian friendly. Along with a number of other initiatives that strive to improve the public spaces in the area this seems like a step in the right direction of avoiding both safety and sense of security to escalate.

Plaza Serrano

Moving between places, a question emerges: what is unique to a place?

Light is cast by the sun onto a round, orbiting planet. Changes in latitude and atmosphere grossly determine local light conditions. The hazy golden afternoon light in Los Angeles is different than the grey blue morning light of Copenhagen. Light inspires mood, atmosphere (and pollution) reflects local patterns of inhabitation. It is continuous, cyclical, and easy to overlook. Comparing photographs, we can study how the light changes over the year or over the globe.

This short video samples the color and palette of light from a series of photos taken in March and April in Copenhagen. Photos are taken out of a west-facing window, of the whitewashed apartments across the street, which reflect eastern light. The dominant colors move from beige to blue as spring approaches.

Copenhagen

The following video samples screen shots of several skype conversations peering into a living room in Los Angeles. The colors are much more rosy and warm.

Los Angeles

Comparing the qualities of light in different locations and at different times of year is a way to distill the idea of a place into something we can talk about, or even experience remotely. What if a dark room in Copenhagen were filled with the light spectrums of late summer in Los Angeles? Would it help us to remember or imagine what it is like to physically be there? These short videos are a part of a test to approach how qualities of light affect our experience of place, and how we might codify these qualities to inform spatial decisions.

ImageGehl Architects went to Skellefteå in North Sweden and did a workshop with representatives from the municipality, politicians and local businesses. With this entusiastic group it was an exciting time, and we were also lucky to be met by beautiful winter weather. This combined with the people we met made us feel very welcome.

ImageWith degrees ranging down to -20 C or colder, Skellefteå is a true winter city. The cold is in a way more comfortable than the wet, windy winter chill of south Sweden. 

Impressively, Skellefteå is also a city of quite many cyclists, proving again that cycling definitely can be an all year round activity. Thank you Skellefteå for a beautiful time, looking forward to an exciting collaboration!

http://norran.se/2013/03/arkivet/gav-ideer-for-en-trevligare-stad/

(Follow link to article regarding the open for all Gehl-lecture which was held by David Sim the evening before the workshop in Skellefteå. We were very excited it was so well-attended and it finished with an interesting round of questions/discussion.)

-Malin Nilsson

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Gehl Architects in collaboration with 8-80 Cities have just completed a ‘Mobility Playbook’ for the City of Red Deer, Canada. Red Deer is a city of around 100,000 people located in the Petroleum Valley between Calgary and Edmonton. It will double in size in the next 18 years. The playbook sets out moves to harness this growth towards sustainable mobility and was unanimously approved for community consultation by the City Council. We’ve found the job to be a microcosm of the challenges facing many North-American Cities. 

See the video the city made and read the report here.

The University of Gent had asked Prof. dr. Jurgen Randers, professor of climate strategy at the BI Norwegian Business School and author of the latest Report to the Club of Rome, “2052-A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years” and Kristian Skovbakke Villadsen, Architect & Associate at Gehl Architects give the final keynotes in a series of events focusing on sustainable cities.

See more: http://www.cdo.ugent.be/drupal-7.15/?q=content/studium-generale-2013-duurzame-steden

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This week I have been a trainee student at Gehl Architects where I learned to work in Photoshop, I have been to lectures and worked with different assignments. Working with cities is interesting because I spent a lot of time in the city, without thinking about that people have decided how the city is build. Monday I learned how to find a solution based on different type of people´s point of view, where I had to “go inside their head” and answer questions for them.

This Tuesday I have been observing the traffic and the prioritization of pedestrians,c yclists and drivers at different locations in Copenhagen. For each location, I found and discussed the benefits and the cons. Wednesday I learned how to use Photoshop, and experimented with the different tools. Thursday I went to Blågårds Plads to count people crossing the square and to took a picture that indicated how people where crossing it.

I think that this week has been very interesting and it has been very fun to experience, the whole atmosphere at the office.

-          Olivia Gehl
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We are excited to learn about the new statistics for Nørrebrogade, the corridor in central Copenhagen, that has been undergoing a process of mobility rethinking since 2008.

Car traffic has been reduced by 60%, from 15.000 cars to 6.000 cars per day, the number of cyclists using the corridor has increased by 20% to 36.000 cyclists daily. Also 60% more pedestrians are using the bridge connecting the corridor with the inner city area.

We are happy that the tools to measure and analyze urban behavior are increasingly being used by municipalities to gather important data about the present conditions and future development and usability of the urban realm. Gathering new knowledge about how the city is used can be a strong tool in inciting debate around the pros and cons of specific urban space changes and can be especially effective when used in public involvement processes.

Other positive changes mentioned in the article include the reduction of the noise level, which has been reduced by half to what it was in 2008, and the 45% reduction of the number of traffic accidents. Learn more here (in Danish).

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Andreas M. Dalsgaard’s ‘The Human Scale’ is set to roll out across Denmark as part of DOX:BIO. This is an excellent opportunity to see the film if you have not already done so.Catch it in…

  • GRAND TEATRET in Copenhagen, February 21 to 27
    Special showing on February 21st at 17.00 – film screening plus debate on ‘City + Development’ with Tina Saaby, City Architect, Søren Møller Christensen, Ethnographer and Karsten Ifversen, Moderator. 
  •  ØST FOR PARADIS in Århus, February 21 to 27
    Special showing on February 21st at 17.00 – film screening plus Q & A session with Andreas M. Dalsgaard, Director
  • BIFFEN ART CINEMA in Aalborg, February 21 to 27
  • NICOLAI BIO in Kolding, February 26 – 28 and March 1 and 3
    Special showing on February 26th – film screening plus debate with Andreas M. Dalsgaard, Director, David Sim, Gehl Architects among others.
  •  RY BIOGRAF on February 21 at 19
    Q&A session with Andreas M. Dalsgaard, Director 
  • KAPPELBORG in Skagen, February 25 at 19.30 
    Intro with Andreas M. Dalsgaard, Director and following presentations by Peder Baltzer Nielsen, City Architect
  • CAFE BIOGRAFEN in Odense
    Date to be confirmed
  • KULTUMASKINEN, ODENSE, March 13th
    DocLounge event
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