I received the book fresh off the press, and the book was filled with fresh ideas about how we design our cities.
Gehl has been in the field of architecture and urban design for a long time now. Through "Cities for People" Gehl shares his knowledge and wisdom that he has acquired through out the years. As a student intending to be an architecture, reading this book completely changed what I thought being an architecture was about.
Who should read this book?
City Politicians - Read this book and better understand your citizens.
Architectures and Urban Planners - Obviously people in the design field should read it. I believe every student would greatly benefit, I know I did.
Citizens! - Yes, I believe citizens should read this book. For those that live in cities improve your voice in city policy by having an understand of how cities work at the human level, your level. For those that don't live in the city, it will make a well design city a place you desire to live.
-The most prominent concept in the book is viewing the city through the human perspective. In the past several decades, since the automobile has dominated city life, architecture and urban spaces have been created for the fast pace of the automobile. Buildings are bigger, with less details. Urban spaces are far too large to be enjoyable. Gehl argues that urban planners and architects must begin to view design from a bottom up perspective, from instead of a top down perspective.
-Pictures-- Reading Gehl's book was an experience. I did not read the book from front to back. I continually flipped ahead to look at the wonderful pictures, to return back and re read a paragraph I just read. Without the pictures in the book, "Cities for People" would be a dull experience. However, there are many pictures used to emphasize certain points. Gehl could have thrown tons of numbers at you(which he does have plenty of statistical data), instead he shows you the difference between a car friendly street and a pedestrian friendly street. He shows how a long street with no windows or lights scares people away, compared to a street with open shops and outdoor cafes have an exuberant human interaction.
-Walking, Bicycling ,Staying and Meeting -- Most of the book focuses on getting more people walking and bicycling as means of transportation. Walking and Cycling can also lead to staying in urban spaces and meeting people.
Table of Contents (Chapter Titles)
1. The Human Dimension
2. Senses and Scale
3. The lively, safe, sustainable, and healthy city
4. The city at eye level
5. Life, space, buildings -- in that order
6. Developing cities
The only criticism I have with the book is that Gehl focuses entirely on out door space. Most of what he tells us should apply to indoors, but it would be nice if Gehl took his ideas into the buildings not just outside.
A Great Architect and another great book. Worth every page turn.