Tag Archives: Cities for People – The Book

Thirty people from the office went to the opening and saw the exhibit for the first time together

My first book Life Between Buildings was published 41 years ago.  Yet today in 2012 the book, and people oriented planning principles embodied in it continues to be much in demand.  I’m delighted and humbled by the staying power of these planning principles which is most recently exemplified by the great international interest in my latest book Cities for People. Already by 2012 this book will be published in 10 languages and a number of new versions are lined up for 2013.

Yet despite this praise and continued interest in the people oriented planning principles, places, districts and entire cities continue to be developed without any reference to principles along these lines.  This is not an issue of negligence, but of neglect. For over the past 50 years, none of those entrusted with building cities – neither architects, planners nor engineers – have been trained to focus  on looking after the needs of people.  The growing interest in my work from numerous professions and disciplines attests to the fact that this is thankfully changing.  There appears to be a genuine and powerful trend of politicians, technocrats and citizens alike beginning to demand that Cities become more liveable, safer,  healthier, and indeed more sustainable.

It is a great joy for me to see these timeless principles for caring for the life in the cities presented in a new format (animated film) and in a new context joining several Scandinavian colleagues at the New Nordic Architecture Exhibit at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, North of Copenhagen.  The principles illustrated at Louisiana are very much the same today as they were many years ago. People are still people.

The film is in-the-round and divided into three sections, life, mobility and scale

It is equally a joy for me to see Gehl Architects continue to evolve these guiding core values and principles to many different types of projects and scales of intervention.  Working with partners around the world, this young, energetic and stubbornly optimistic team work to tailor and contextualize design, planning and research that builds upon the foundation established during the many years of research and dialogues.  This team is actively engaging in dialogue around the world with colleagues, clients and collaborators to add layers of meaning and new possibilities for application of these core values.  In doing so, Gehl Architects, as the other design practices featured in the Loisianna exhibit, continue to build upon a wider Nordic tradition for architecture and design that is rooted in a fundamental care and appreciation for the human being.

As we progress through the 21st century, I’m confident that the continued dedication of a new generation of city makers – from economists to social scientists to architects to business owners and politicians – that care for the city from a human centered perspective of the Nordic tradition will ensure that the cities  of tomorrow will be much better for people than the cities of today.

Kropotkinskaya metro station, Moscow

We are very excited to have kicked off projects in Moscow this summer with the launch of Cities for People, New City Spaces and Life Between Buildings in Russian, published this spring by PSF Krost Ltd. The occasion was marked with a reception held by the Danish Ambassador attended by Minister of Environment Anton Kulbachevskiy  and Jan Gehl.  We have been appointed by the Mayor of Moscow to complete a Public Space Public Life study of the city centre and during the summer we will be working with local students to gather a wide net of data from across the city, the first of its kind in Moscow. The project is led by Ola Gustafsson, Solvejg Reigstad and Henriette Vamberg and they will be joined by Jan Gehl in mid-September who will be speaking at the University of Moscow in a series of events exact dates of which we will add here as they come through. The study commenced in May and will be concluded in December 2012. We look forward to a concentrated and meaningful engagement with the city and its citizens over the coming months and will be updating on news and thoughts on the city here soon. Moscow here we come!

Planetizen, the public-interest information exchange for the urban planning, design, and development community, have published their ninth annual list of best books on urban planning, design and development. Among the Top 10 books published in 2010 is Professor Jan Gehls, Cities for People, published on Island Press.

Here is what Planetizen have to say about Cities for People:

“With a physician’s understanding of humanity, Jan Gehl is able to examine planning questions of the last forty years with impressive clarity and focus. His ideals – rejection of ideology in favor of common sense, respect for people and scale – offer a panacea to many of the environmental and health crises faced in urban areas across the globe. This volume is organized succinctly, first into sections focused on human responses to locations and then, as it becomes progressively more practical, cities themselves. There is a careful blend of analysis and case study throughout, providing a backdrop to Gehl’s tenets of urban living, which are disseminated at junctures within chapters.”

Among the other noteworthy books on the ist are:

What We See: Advancing the Observations of Jane JacobsStephen A. Goldsmith and Lynn Elizabeth, Editors

Makeshift Metropolis: Ideas About CitiesBy Witold Rybczynski

Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban SpacesBy Sharon Zukin

Check out Planetizens full top 10 books list here.

Professor Jan Gehl at The Economists conference 'Creating tomorrows liveable cities' in London earlier this week.

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?

Watch Jan Gehls presentation here.

Urban life is in many ways a matter of rhythms, and the rhythms of human movement and perception have found a gifted interpreter in Gehl. Every city that has implemented his ideas has revived some of its livelier qualities, or discovered them anew.

(Bill Millard, in a review of professor Jan Gehls newest book, Cities for People, island Press, 2010)

Read Bill Millards full review here.

Professor Jan Gehl’s talk on Cities for People at the Cooper Hewitt – National Design Museum, in New York City:

Jan Gehls Cities for People was published to much acclaim in 2010

Professor Jan Gehls most recent book, Cities for People, has been chosen by the website GOOD as one of 2010′s 15 must-read books.

Alissa Walker, Contributing Editor, GOOD writes about professor Jan Gehls book:

“I met the amazing Jan Gehl at a conference this year and instantly developed a design crush. Gehl is a Danish architect who is best known for helping to transform the city of Copenhagen from a city for cars to, as he calls it, a city for people. Where so many urbanism books read like a prescriptive list of cold, hardscape improvements to public space, Gehl asks architects to focus not on the infrastructure itself, but on the people who will ultimately use it. Using language like asking architects to be “sweet” to pedestrians, and telling designers to “invite” bikers to ride on the streets, Gehl manages to deliver a witty, human, and altogether enjoyable take on urban design. The book is filled with photos of people using cities around the world, and in that sense it’s not just for designers—it will entertain, delight, and educate anyone with an interest in the future of where we choose to live.”

GOOD is the integrated media platform for people who want to live well and do good. It is a company and community for the people, businesses, and NGOs moving the world forward. GOOD’s mission is to provide content, experiences, and utilities to serve this community. GOOD currently produces a website, videos, live events, and a print magazine. Launched in September 2006, the company has garnered praise for its unique editorial perspective and fresh visual aesthetic and is quickly positioning itself as a significant new voice in our culture.

Other must-reads on the list include Patti Smiths recollection of new York life in the 1960s and 1970s, Just Kids, Rolling Stone guitarist extraordinaire Keith Richards memoirs, Life, and Tom rachmans The Imperfectionists.

New York, New York

“Behind Michael Bloomberg’s long-term plan for the city is a Danish professor and urban planner named Jan Gehl, who for several years has been quietly, if not slowly, guiding the remaking of New York. Gehl is a legend in his field. Events at the Center for Architecture in the West Village are always well-attended, but Wednesday night there were, among other signs of something remarkable, a line to get in the door that stretched halfway down the block, overflow seating on the first floor that would beam the lecture from the gallery two floors down, and reserved seating for the press, almost all of which was occupied.”

Read the rest of the Capital New York review of Jans talk in New York recently here.

Professor Jan Gehls new book, Cities for People, is published next week in the US. The Danish edition came out earlier this year along with the Chinese edition. And now the English language edition is ready for publication. Jan is in the US to celebrate the publication and will be speaking at several occassions.

On September 14 Island Press and The Summit Foundation host a reception for Jan Gehl in honour of the publication of the english version of Jans new book. The reception takes place at the Brookings Institution, Saul/Zilkha Rooms, 1775 Massachusetts Ave, NW, Washington DC.

On September 15 Jan will give a talk at the AIA New York.  The talk takes place at 6PM, 536 LaGuardia Place. Introduction by Chair Amanda Burden, FAICP, Hon. AIA, NYC Department of City Planning and Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, NYC Department of Transportation.

On September 16 Jan Gehl is lecturing at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, 2 East 91st Street, New York at 6.30-8.00 PM.

New York DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan (left) and DOT Senior Policy Advisor Jon Orcutt (right) together with Jan Gehl in Copenhagen earlier this year.


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