This thread is about cities and civilised life;
In Europe planned cities remain planned, for a while anyway,...
How elementary a comment jax and you thought you were bright.
Ahead of a special Guardian Cities event, the renowned urban 'rethinker' says cities should be six or seven storeys high, Helsinki is on the verge of revolution, and that he's sceptical of London's cycle superhighway plansWhat makes your city liveable?
Jan Gehl had just graduated as an architect; it was 1960 and he had been schooled in how to "do modern cities, with high-rises and a lot of lawns and good open space - good windy spaces". About to put those years of study into practice, he met his future wife, psychologist Ingrid Mundt, and everything changed. In the years that followed, he would develop the thinking that has made him a pioneer of so-called "liveable cities" around the world.Meeting Ingrid, someone who had studied "people rather than bricks", says Gehl over the phone from Copenhagen, catalysed a host of discussions between young architects and young psychologists questioning why architects were not really interested in people, how architecture can "influence people's lives", and "how cities are used by people". Ultimately the idea was to think up ways to make cities "that people would be happier using".Typically, says the 78-year-old - not long off a plane from Japan but sounding sharp - "the main focus [of urban planning] has been to keep the cars happy". But Gehl, bolstered by psychological thinking, spent the next 40 years developing principles based on how the shape of cities can impact on the human lives lived within them, rather than on traffic efficiency and parking spaces.
Speaking of "humane, resilient and joyful cities" like Detroit and Glasgow, Is Jan Gehl winning his battle to make our cities liveable?
Here in Gt Britain unlike the US of A a city could not become a Detroit and fine you well know it.
"If things carry on as they are now," says Alex Niven, a leftwing writer from Northumberland, "in five years the situation will get somewhere like Detroit." Several other authorities in the north-east that I interviewed invoked the long-imploding American city, unprompted. He left the area 10 years ago, aged 18, and now lives in London. "Almost all my friends from school live in London now. When you go back to the north-east, the landscape's kind of crumbling. There is this sort of sadness. It feels like a people who've been weakened, who've just been cut loose."
Meeting Ingrid, someone who had studied "people rather than bricks", says Gehl over the phone from Copenhagen, catalysed a host of discussions between young architects and young psychologists questioning why architects were not really interested in people, how architecture can "influence people's lives", and "how cities are used by people". Ultimately the idea was to think up ways to make cities "that people would be happier using".
The system, still in its early stages, has put Copenhagen on the leading edge of a global race to use public outdoor lighting as the backbone of a vast sensory network capable of coordinating a raft of functions and services: whether easing traffic congestion, better predicting where to salt before a snowstorm or, to the alarm of privacy advocates, picking up on suspicious behavior on a busy street corner.Cities worldwide are expected to replace 50 million aging fixtures with LEDs over the next three years, with roughly half of those in Europe. Some are mainly interested in switching from outmoded technologies to one that uses less energy and can last for decades. But many others want to take full advantage of the LED's electronics, which are more conducive to wireless communication than other types of lighting.Los Angeles, for example, has almost completed the switch to outdoor LED lighting and is using sensors embedded in the pavement to detect traffic congestion and synchronize signals.
It often seems like federal-level politicians care more about creating gridlock than solving the world's problems. So who's actually getting bold things done? City mayors. So, political theorist Benjamin Barber suggests: Let's give them more control over global policy. Barber shows how these "urban homeboys" are solving pressing problems on their own turf -- and maybe in the world.
Nor do Rome and Brussels perform well.Europe's ancient and modern capital citiesare ranked 40th and 41st, respectively. Thiscould be explained by the prevalence of pettycrimes, such as muggings, bag snatching andpick-pocketing, which the US State Departmentwarns American travellers about in itsadvisories on both cities.
6 in Middle East and Africa (Abu Dhabi/Tehran)
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