Heritage Forum

Jan Gehl: How to build a good city

Mar 31, 2022 | Forum, Videos

These Are Jan Gehl’s Methods For Building Good Cities

“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.

This made Gehl realize that “there was a fantastic gap between what the social scientists were doing and what the architecture and planning professions were doing.” Instead of looking at architecture as a form—which made it more like a sculpture—one had to look at all the components:

“Architecture is the interplay between form and life. And only if life and form interact in a successful way, this will be good architecture.”

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