The Human Scale

| October 30, 2012

–  a film by Andreas M. Dalsgaard

Fifty percent of the worlds population live in urban areas. By 2050 this figure is expected to increase to eighty percent. The megacity is both enchanting and scary. But how do we plan these cities in a way, which take human behavour into account?

In the 20th Century the struggle to provide large numbers of people with proper housing, work spaces and transport led the modernists to create gigantic systems of highrise buildings, industrial estates and high ways. The material gains are evident. What are the costs? Jan Gehl’s thesis is that basic human needs for interaction, inclusion and intimacy was somewhat forgotten during this proces. Today we face peak oil, climate change and severe health issues due to our rapid growth. With en exploding population we need to double our urban capacity within 30 years. Can a people oriented planning be the solution?

The main question is pressing and includes us all. From the slum of Bangladesh to the financial district in New York. What is a happy life, and can a city make us happy? What is a good city? Is it made of highways, gated communities and highrise structures? Or is it made of bikeways, parks and walking streets? Can architecture meet our human needs in the face of future challenges? THE HUMAN SCALE meets thinkers, architects and urban planners across the globe. It questions our assumptions about modernity, exploring what happens when we put people into the center of our planning.

THE HUMAN SCALE questions our assumptions about modernity, exploring what happens when we put people into the center of our equations.
For 40 years the Danish architect Jan Gehl has systematically studied human behavior in cities. His starting point was an interest in people, more than buildings – in what he called Life Between Buildings. What made it exist? When was it destroyed? How could it be brought back? This lead to studies of how human beings use the streets, how they walk, see, rest, meet, interact etc. Jan Gehl also uses statistics, but the questions he asks are different. For instance: How many people pass this street throughout a 24 hour period? How many percent of those are pedestrians? How many are driving cars or bikes? How much of the street space are the various groups allowed to use? Is this street performing well for all its users? Jan Gehl made his first studies in Italy and later he inspired the planning of Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen, for 40 years. His ideas inspired the creation of walking streets, the building and improvements of bike paths and the reorganization of parks, squares and other public spaces throughout this city and in many other cities in the Nordic region. Around the world cities like Melbourne, Dhaka, New York, Chongqing and Christchurch are now also being inspired by Gehl’s work and by the developments in Copenhagen.

For more information see www.thehumanscale.dk & http://www.facebook.com/TheHumanScale

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Category: Danish Cycling Know How, Planning

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