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Jan Gehl: Life Between Buildings

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Tereza Basařová

on 24 July 2015

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Transcript of Jan Gehl: Life Between Buildings

Jan Gehl
Life Between Buildings
Political Geography
14. 5. 2015
Tereza Basarova
1. About the author
2. Context
3. Method of research
4. About the book
5. Other thoughts

Jan Gehl
* 1936 (now 78)
Danish architect (Gehl Architects)
Professor of Urban Design at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen

focus: improving the quality of urban life and public spaces, re-orienting city design towards pedestrians and cyclists
1971 - Life Between Buildings
2000 - New City Spaces
2004 - Public Spaces, Public Life
2006 - New City Life
2010 - Cities for People
2013 - How To Study Public Life
graduated in 1960
age of modernism
invasion of cars

... and then he married a psychologist
sociological and psychological aspect
“Go out there and see what works and what doesn’t work, and learn from reality. Look out of your windows, spend time in the streets and squares and see how people actually use spaces, learn from that, and use it.”

Jane Jacobs
'bird-shit' architecture
looks good from an airplane
x human scale shattered
obsession with form
car invasion
About the book
“how our cities, our architecture, and our planning influence life between buildings, and our lives in general”
how physical environment influences outdoor activities
first part of the first chapter (4 chapters in total)
3 types of activities
necessary activities
happen regardless of the environment
optional activities
happen only under favorable external conditions
social activities
occur spontaneously as they evolve from the above mentioned activities
Low-intensity social activities
the lowest level of participation
precondition of other activities
activity attracts attention and other activity
opportunity to maintain already established contacts
People are interested in people, not houses

“Life in buildings and between buildings seems in nearly all situations to rank as more essential and more relevant than the spaces and building themselves.”

Jan Gehl
Characteristics of the text
introductory text, easy to read for all
lots of pictures and examples
often children
revolutionary approach
does not provide any concrete directions how to make a 'good city'
a little vague
Method of research & general approach
Inspired by Jane Jacobs
observation as the main source of information
analyzing pedestrian flows, levels and length of activities

“First life, then spaces, then buildings – the other way around never works.”
building design as a means to an end, not an end itself

Gehl vs cars
need for a
lively / livable city
safe city
sustainable city
healthy city
the solution is walking and cycling
cities need to be more inviting to people and less inviting to cars

“Man was made to walk. All our senses are made for being a walking animal – for that speed, for that horizontal perception – and when we are in that natural environment that we are meant for, then we can watch and talk and kiss as we were meant to as human beings."

Jan Gehl
“In what I call the ‘reconquered cities’, we have won back the right to be in the city from the car, and we can now enjoy the age old joy of people meeting people, which is why people came to cities in the first place”.

Jan Gehl
Think of the place where you stay in Prague, and the place where you live in your home country. Which one feels more inviting and why? Try to give concrete reasons.

Do you agree that public space is actually more important than the architecture of surrounding buildings?

Can be urban planning connected with political ideology? How? (E.g. high-rise blocks of flats in post-Soviet countries)
“Jan Gehl”, Project for Public Spaces, http://www.pps.org/reference/jgehl/ (accessed 13. 5. 2015).

“Jan Gehl: «Architects know very little about people»”, interview for Tages Woche, https://www.tageswoche.ch/de/2015_12/basel/683236/%C2%ABArchitects-know-very-little-about-people%C2%BB.htm (18. 3. 2015).

“Cities for People: Jan Gehl”, Assemble Papers, http://assemblepapers.com.au/2013/06/13/cities-for-people-jan-gehl/ (13. 7. 2013).

“Jan Gehl on changing mindsets about urban planning and living”, EuroFoundationCentre at YouTube, (accessed 13. 5. 2015).

Beatriz Campos, “Book Review: Jan Gehl (1987/2011), Life Between Buildings: Using Public Space & Jan Gehl (2010), Cities for People”, Journal of Space Syntax, vol. 3, issue 1, published 13. 8. 2012, accessible at http://joss.bartlett.ucl.ac.uk/journal/index.php/joss/article/viewFile/104/pdf.

background: “Copenhagen, Denmark”, Rae Nordico, http://www.raenordico.com/products/copenhagen-map-prints?variant=975899783 (accessed 13. 5. 2015, adjusted by author)
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