jan gehl: urban visionary
jan gehl: urban visionary
jul 07, 2010

jan gehl: urban visionary

oslo harbour front regeneration by gehl architects with behnisch & transsolar, 2008 all images courtesy of gehl architects

danish architect jan gehl‘s work has influenced the street culture and sustainable development of many cities around the world. his most successful and widely-noted work has been the transformation of copenhagen from a car-dominated city to a pedestrian-friendly space, embracing urban cycling as an important part of the city’s culture and identity. his 1971 publication ‘life between buildings’ is still considered to be an important and relevant body of text for any urban strategist today.

the core foundation of his practice is to simply put the people first. a lively and healthy city should encourage the people to use public spaces. by eliminating heavy traffic infrastructure with bike paths, wider sidewalks, and other systems of private mobilization, the city will become a space to inhabit and enjoy rather than just a point of passing.

jan gehl: urban visionary

jan gehl: urban visionary public space diagrams for the harbour front

jan gehl: urban visionary car-free times square, new york city urban realm and bicycle strategy, 2009

jan gehl: urban visionary ‘summer streets’, a 7 mile car-free route in new york city, 2009

jan gehl: urban visionary sydney, australia: public space and public life study

jan gehl: urban visionary rabat, morocco: new town development framework, 2006

jan gehl: urban visionary adelaide, australia: urban strategy, 2002

gehl, together with executive director of the institute of transportation and development policy (ITDP) walter hook, recently set out ten keys to building successful cities at new york city’s center for architecture for the ‘our cities ourselves‘ exhibition which highlights the work of ten architects and how they are shaping cities around the world.

the ten principles for sustainable transport:

1 – walk the walk: create great pedestrian environments

2 – powered by people: create a great environment for bicycles and other non-motorized vehicles

3 – get on the bus: provide great, cost-effective public transport

4 – cruise control: provide access for clean passenger vehicles at safe speeds and in significantly reduced numbers

5 – deliver the goods: service the city in the cleanest and safest manner

6 – mix it up: mix people and activities, buildings and spaces

7 – fill it in: build dense, people and transit oriented urban districts that are desirable

8 – get real: preserve and enhance the local, natural, cultural, social and historical assets

9 – connect the blocks: make walking trips more direct, interesting and productive with small-size, permeable buildings and blocks

10 – make it last: build for the long term. sustainable cities bridge generations. they are memorable, malleable, built from quality materials, and well maintained.

these points are all covered in a short book called ‘our cities ourselves: 10 principles for transport in urban life’, an important read for any involved in city design and urban planning. the exhibition is on now until september 11, after which it will travel to china, brazil, mexico and more.

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