Dr. Jan Gehl will be coming to Toronto to do a series of public education sessions on how to design cities that are USABLE by their residents. Dr. Jan Gehl is the world foremost expert on USABLE URBAN DESIGN - when it comes to the PUBLIC REALM.
PUBLIC REALM simply refers to all of the spaces between the buildings in any city - these spaces are publicly owned open spaces - roads, "sidewalks", esplanades, promenades, squares, parks, forests, harbours, rivers, beaches, piers, swimming pools, and pathways. (Is the PUBLIC REALM - public any longer, when these spaces are privatized? - not likely!)
USABLE simply refers to the fact that the design or mis-design of the PUBLIC REALM will either encourage or dis-courage the USE of the PUBLIC REALM by the residents in any city. Dr. Gehl's forte is that for 45 years he has conducted hundreds of scientific primary research projects around the western world on why and how people use the PUBLIC REALM - what encourages residents to COME and STAY. Versus, what is done 98% of the time in most cities - including Toronto - the mis-design of the PUBLIC REALM, in addition to city mis-management policy forces people to STAY AWAY.
Unfortunately, most universities and colleges, who train "professionals" who end up working on the design of cities, simply do not have faculty who understand how good urban design encourages people of all ages to enter the public realm and stay a long time - and even talk to strangers! These faculty erroneously believe that good design is all about moving people (to private patios). Not only is Jan Gehl likely one of a small handful of people in the western world who has done this primary research - but has gone on to implement progressive changes in the USABILTY of the PUBLIC REALM in cities around the world. For example, the Mayor of London, England recently asked Gehl to come and provide advice on how to make the downtown of London (including Trafalgar Square) into a USABLE downtown. Dr. Gehl has along list of accomplishments - for example, decreased the car traffic in the downtown of Copenhagen, Denmark by 30% while at the same time increased reatil sales in the downtown by 32 percent! Which of course contradicts everthing the rich wanabees in any city say - they say - the more cars - the more economic growth.
A. Dr. Jan Gehl has authored several text books on designing a USABLE - PUBLIC REALM. Here is one of his text books "New City Spaces" - the publisher has graciously allowed many sections of the book to be read online at no charge.
B. Dr. Gehl's consultation firm click here - Gehl Architects-Urban Quality Consultants
E. Dr. Jan Gehl's biography at the Project For Public Spaces: click here.
F. And check out what Google has about Dr. Gehl click here.
G. You are listening to an MP3 audio recording of a presentation that Dr. Gehl gave at an International Conference on City Design. Of course the visual part of the presentation is missing - which is why Dr. Gehl is coming to Toronto.