Danish architect and urban planning expert Jan Gehl has weighed in on New York Mayor Bill de Blasio's threat to remove Times Square as a"kneejerk reaction" to aggressive panhandling. Recounting beloved square's evolution, Gehl argues that public spaces need more than just to exist: "Civic culture needs cultivating and curating... Public spaces like Times Square are the great equalizer in cities: Improvements in the public realm benefit everyone. The city should view the challenge of Times Square’s pedestrian plaza not as a reason for retreat, but as a call to create a diverse, dense, intense experience of public life that we can all enjoy." Read Gehl's remarks, here.
As a founding partner of Gehl Architects and a consultant to cities such as Copenhagen, London and New York, Jan Gehl has been one of the most influential figures in the drive towards more liveable and healthier cities for over four decades. In this interview, first published by Metropolis Magazine as "Q&A: Jan Gehl on Making Cities Healthier and the Real Meaning of Architecture," Gehl discusses what makes a city healthy and why the need for healthy cities is a unifying worldwide phenomenon.
Mikki Brammer: You're often associated with the idea of making cities "healthier." What do you mean by the term?
Jan Gehl: I’m neither the first, nor the only one, to point out that in the past 50 years we have practiced city planning that invites people to be inactive in their lives. You can spend your entire life behind steering wheels, or computers, or on sofas, and in many cases you don’t have to move a muscle from morning to night. This, of course, has been identified as something that is very dangerous for mankind.
Danish urban planner and committed pedometer user Jan Gehl is an expert in creating “cities for people.” Following a recent talk he gave on sustainable cities in Basel, Gehl sat down with Tages Wocke to discuss what makes a city desirable and livable. “We found people’s behavior depends on what you invite them to do,” says Gehl. “The more streets you have, the more traffic you get. A more attractive public realm will be used by more people.” Read the full interview and see why Gehl thinks social and psychological sciences should be taught in architecture school, here.
Renowned architect, urban design consultant, and founding partner of Gehl Architects, Jan Gehl will participate in a 30-minute audio interview on August 14 with UBM’s Future Cities. During the program, and in advance of his keynote at the upcoming Future of Cities Forum, Gehl will discuss building cities for people, the importance of public spaces that promote public life, and how to design cars out of our future cities. Listeners can stream the conversation live and directly ask Gehl questions via a live chat discussion here.
Derived from 40 years of research by architect, professor and author Jan Gehl, The Human Scale takes a critical look at the way we build and use our cities. Assumptions about modernity are questioned, as director Andreas M. Dalsgaard urges the viewer to imagine what would happen when we put “people into the center of our equations”.