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Jan Gehl

116 Best Architecture Books for Architects and Students

09:30 - 11 September, 2018
116 Best Architecture Books for Architects and Students, © Leandro Fuenzalida | ArchDaily
© Leandro Fuenzalida | ArchDaily

Architecture, while a profession that is very visibly and tangibly realized, has deep wells of research, thought, and theory that are unseen on the surface of a structure. What urges architects to design the way they do? What are their motivations, their affiliations, their interests? For practitioners and students alike, books on architecture offer invaluable context to the profession, be it practical, inspirational, academic, or otherwise. So, for those of you looking to expand your bookshelf (or confirm your own tastes), we have gathered a broad list of 116 architectural books that we consider of interest to those in the field. 

In compiling this list, we sought out titles from different backgrounds with the aim of revealing divergent cultural contexts. From essays to monographs, urban theory to graphic novels, each of the following either engage directly with or flirt on the edges of architecture.

The books on this list were chosen by each of our editors, and are categorized loosely by type. Within their categorization, they are organized alphabetically. Read on to see the books we consider valuable to anyone interested in architecture. 

A Close Look at the Gehl Institute's Free Toolkit for City Planning

09:30 - 19 December, 2017
A Close Look at the Gehl Institute's Free Toolkit for City Planning

This article was originally published by Common Edge as "The Gehl Institute’s Toolkit for the Creation of Great Urban Spaces."

Jane Jacobs was arguably the most important “citizen” planner in the 20th century. If we were setting up a related category for credentialed planners, then the great Danish urbanist Jan Gehl might just top that list; inspired by the ideas of Jacobs, the architect and urban designer has spent nearly a half-century studying and writing about public space. He helped his home city of Copenhagen become a kind of model for walkable urbanism and has consulted for cities all over the world.

Two and a half years ago his firm, Gehl, launched a nonprofit arm, Gehl Institute, dedicated to public engagement, and the use and creation of public urban space as a tool of both economic development and political equity. Recently the institute published what it describes as “tools for measuring public space and public life, in the form of free, downloadable worksheets.” The toolkit is beautifully executed. Last week I talked to Shin-pei Tsay, executive director of the Gehl Institute, about the tools and what her group hopes to accomplish with them.

Jan Gehl: “In The Last 50 Years, Architects Have Forgotten What a Good Human Scale Is”

08:30 - 28 October, 2017
Jan Gehl: “In The Last 50 Years, Architects Have Forgotten What a Good Human Scale Is”, LA DISTANCIA FÍSICA REPERCUTE EN EL CONTACTO SOCIAL. Si muchos integrantes de nuestra familia viven cerca, se les ve mucho más seguido que si lo hicieran a 20 o 30 kilómetros. Entonces, por supuesto, si las circunstancias permiten que la familia o varios miembros de ella puedan vivir cerca, se tendrá una red más densa que si se encuentran diseminados.. Image Cortesía de Revista City Manager
LA DISTANCIA FÍSICA REPERCUTE EN EL CONTACTO SOCIAL. Si muchos integrantes de nuestra familia viven cerca, se les ve mucho más seguido que si lo hicieran a 20 o 30 kilómetros. Entonces, por supuesto, si las circunstancias permiten que la familia o varios miembros de ella puedan vivir cerca, se tendrá una red más densa que si se encuentran diseminados.. Image Cortesía de Revista City Manager

This interview was initially published in Spanish by City Manager as “Jan Gehl, ciudades para la gente.”

Jah Gehl is recognized as a follower of Jane Jacobs, the “grandmother” of urbanism and humanist planning. He has been a professor at the Danish Real Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen and visiting professor in Canada, the United States, New Zealand, Mexico, Australia, Belgium, Germany, Poland, and Norway. In 2000, he created his own consultancy along with Helle Søholt, Gehl Architects, in Denmark, where he completed diverse urban projects from around the world using data and strategic analysis.

The below text comes from an interview with the Danish architect, theorist and world leader in urban development, and promoter, following Jane Jacobs, of the human scale in the design of public spaces.

Why Are Architects Needed? 8 Speakers Give Their Answers During Rising Architecture Week 2017

16:00 - 22 October, 2017

With the objective of developing new solutions to the societal challenges of tomorrow, the RISING Architecture Week 2017—held in Aarhus, Denmark, between the 11th and 15th of September—consisted of a series of events, exhibitions, and the RISING Exchange Conference, focuses on how architecture and construction can help to rethink existing paradigms.

We had the opportunity to visit the city and to talk with Jan Gehl, Pauline Marchetti, Ruth Baumeister, Daan Roosegaarde, John Thackara, Jacques Ferrier, Stephan Petermann, and Shajay Bhooshan, some of the speakers who contributed their visions on these issues. Thinking about a future in which different actors will be relevant in the process of addressing such challenges, we took the opportunity to make them question themselves: Are architects really needed?

Every time you put any brick down anywhere, you manipulate the quality of life of people. (...) If you just make form, it's sculpture. But it becomes architecture if the interaction between form and life is successful.
– Jan Gehl.

Check all their answers in the video above, and see some pictures of their lectures in the Official Facebook of the event.

These Are Jan Gehl's Methods For Building Good Cities

08:00 - 6 October, 2017

We now know that first, we form the cities, but then the cities form us.

Meet 81-year-old Danish architect Jan Gehl who, for more than fifty years, has focused on improving the quality of urban life by helping people to “re-conquer the city.” Gehl has studied the relationship between life and form since the mid-1960s, when he started questioning the modernist approach of looking at the architectural model from above instead of from the inside. The architecture of that time was very often "an obsession with architecture for architecture’s sake," and took very little interest in the inhabitants.

Why Jan Gehl, the Champion of People-Oriented Cities, Doesn't Necessarily Dislike Skyscrapers

09:30 - 14 September, 2017
Why Jan Gehl, the Champion of People-Oriented Cities, Doesn't Necessarily Dislike Skyscrapers, © <a href='https://www.flickr.com/photos/gruban/288465746/'>Flickr user gruban</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/'>CC BY-SA 2.0</a>
© Flickr user gruban licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

This article was originally published by Common Edge as "Jan Gehl on Why Tall Buildings Aren’t Necessarily Bad for Street Life."

Jan Gehl, the great Danish urbanist, has much in common with Jane Jacobs. For the better part of a half-century now, his focus has been on the development of people-oriented cities. The author of a number of books, including Life Between Buildings, Cities for People, Public Spaces—Public Life, and most recently, How to Study Public Life, Gehl and his colleagues have also served as consultants for the cities of Copenhagen, London, Melbourne, Sydney, New York and Moscow. Gehl Architects currently has offices in Copenhagen, New York and San Francisco. I spoke to Gehl about Jacobs, the folly of modernist city planning, and New York City’s durable urban form.

Jan Gehl: "The Modern Movement Put an End to the Human Scale"

08:00 - 21 July, 2017

On Thursday 29 of June, Jan Gehl the Danish architect and urban planner, spoke at the Conference “Thinking urban: cities for people” organised by UN-Habitat and the Official Architects College of Madrid (COAM as it is abbreviated in Spanish) about the urban transformations that have occurred in Copenhagen as a result of the errors of the modernist movement and the challenges facing the cities in the 21st century.

In a prior discussion with José María Ezquiaga (dean of COAM), and José Manuel Calvo (councilor of the Sustainable Development Area at the Madrid city council) at the Conference, Gehl highlighted the urban paradigm at the time of his student years, which is referred to as the Brasilia syndrome. 

Jan Gehl's 5 Rules for Designing Great Cities

08:00 - 16 December, 2016
Jan Gehl's 5 Rules for Designing Great Cities, Copenhagen, Denmark. Image © Flickr User: Forgemind ArchiMedia. License CC BY 2.0
Copenhagen, Denmark. Image © Flickr User: Forgemind ArchiMedia. License CC BY 2.0

Danish architect Jan Gehl is a world renowned expert in all things related to urban design and public spaces. He obtained this expertise by publishing numerous books, and later, from his consulting firm Gehl Architects that he founded in Copenhagen, his hometown, to make cities for people. The firm celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2016.

Video: Jan Gehl on Modernism and the Social Sciences

08:00 - 6 November, 2016

The Danish Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale, curated by Boris Brorman Jensen and Kristoffer Lindhardt Weiss, is dense with models – "a wunderkammer of architectural prototypes." The exhibition, which attempts to present new insights into how contemporary Danish architecture has been influenced by critics of Modernism (the "Modern approach"), features Jan Gehl—a famed Danish architect and urbanist renowned for his focus on improving the quality of urban life—as its standard bearer. In this exclusive film, shared by the curators, Gehl puts forward his position.

Jan Gehl: "Civic Culture Needs Cultivating and Curating"

16:35 - 11 September, 2015
Jan Gehl: "Civic Culture Needs Cultivating and Curating", © Flickr CC User MK Feeney
© Flickr CC User MK Feeney

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.

Jan Gehl on the Global Need for Liveable Cities

09:30 - 13 August, 2015
Jan Gehl on the Global Need for Liveable Cities, Celebrated architect-planner Jan Gehl has worked with the Copenhagen city council to improve the Danish capital's pedestrian-and-cycle networks. Image © Flickr CC user Thomas Rousing
Celebrated architect-planner Jan Gehl has worked with the Copenhagen city council to improve the Danish capital's pedestrian-and-cycle networks. Image © Flickr CC user Thomas Rousing

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.

Jan Gehl: “Architects Know Very Little About People”

08:00 - 21 March, 2015
Jan Gehl: “Architects Know Very Little About People”, © Basile Bornand via Tages Woche
© Basile Bornand via Tages Woche

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.

UBM Future Cities’ Interview with Jan Gehl Streams Live Tomorrow

00:00 - 13 August, 2013
UBM Future Cities’ Interview with Jan Gehl Streams Live Tomorrow

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.

Trailer: The Human Scale

00:00 - 27 June, 2013

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”.

Video: Jan Gehl

10:00 - 4 May, 2012