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Cities for People Hardcover – Sep 6 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Island Press (Sept. 6 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159726573X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597265737
  • Product Dimensions: 19 x 2.3 x 25.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 930 g
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #61,172 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"This book elaborates on many of Gehl's seminal ideas, examines some of the world's cities that have successfully improved over the last few decades, and states the challenges for the future. Many generations will lead happier lives and cities will be more competitive if their leaders heed his advice."
(Enrique Peñalosa former Mayor of Bogotá, Colombia)

"Jan Gehl continues to astonish us with his insight into what really makes cities work. He has a global reach in this book based on work he has done in Europe, Australia, and America with comparative data on how pedestrians use public spaces. The deep appeal is how quickly he has been able to assist some cities in turning their traffic-riddled streets into havens for people."
(Peter Newman Professor of Sustainability, Curtin University, Australia)

"Jan Gehl's new manifesto…Pages will be dog-eared, margins annotated… accessibly deployed framework of research and a logical, lucid framework for all the telling details and surprising data. The book organizes a set of observations that will strike some readers as obvious, others as radical, but practically all as convincing, revealing how deeply grounded Gehl's system is in common sense. This kind of synthesis is no small task, and Gehl performs it with aplomb."

"If Cities for People is widely read and widely applied, the world's urban life will be immeasurably better."
(New Urban News)

"Fascinating guide on how to create cities that local residents fall in love with, rather than simply put up with."
(Shareable: Cities)

"Jan Gehl's most recent book—Cities for People—brought with it a lot of excitement and expectations. With a track record like his, however, it comes as no surprise that Gehl's strong perspective, clear prose and rigorous research is not a disappointment. Continuing his quest to secure the importance of the human experience as a top priority when planning and designing cities, Cities for People is a succinct collection of his experience and lessons to-date. Ultimately, Cities for People is one of those books that everybody—no matter what level you are in the industry—is bound to learn from. Clear and accessible, it's a must-read for students and early practitioners of planning, architecture, and landscape design, as well as anybody interested creating humane pedestrian cities. If one hasn't read any of Gehl's previous books, this is also a great place to start."
(Re:place Magazine)

"In his well-illustrated and accessible new book, Cities for People, Jan Gehl fills in the missing link in modern planning: how human beings actually function and respond to the built environment."

"Jan Gehl's book constitutes part of a worldview; it embodies a fundamental re-orientation in the way that we regard and adopt knowledge about the behaviour of individuals and communities in the development of our cities."
(Urban Design)

"...fascinating...Gehl keeps his latest effort engaging from start to finish."
(Publishers Weekly, starred review)

"Jan Gehl is our greatest observer of urban quality and an indispensable philosopher of cities as solutions to the environmental and health crises that we face. With over half the world's population now in urban areas, the entire planet needs to learn the lessons he offers in Cities for People."
(Janette Sadik-Khan Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation)

About the Author

Jan Gehl is a founding partner of Gehl Architects—Urban Quality Consultants. He is the author of Life Between Buildings and Public Spaces, Public Life. He has received numerous awards for his work and is widely credited with creating and renewing urban spaces in cities around the world, including Copenhagen, Melbourne, New York City, London, and many others.

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Pierre Gauthier TOP 1000 REVIEWER on Oct. 19 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In this famous work, Jan Gehl exposes the importance of the human factor in developing cities, or in fact more specifically streets and public spaces. He includes interesting original observations regarding for instance the relation between human senses and adequate urban scale.

The main interest of the work lies in the photographs, taken in cities across the world, many of which are very telling. Most are not of professional quality and one suspects a good number may have been taken by the author himself or his students. This does not reduce their pertinence though it is sad to see so many sites repeated. The bollards in the Sienna Campo are shown at least five times over various sections of the book!

Very sadly, the text is of sub-standard quality:

• perhaps it is badly translated from Danish, it suffers in terms of clarity and rhythm and includes such sentences as « the main investment will be to show respect and concern with regard to incorporating the human dimension in all forms of urban projects » (page 227);
• it is marred with horrid spelling mistakes («nessessity», «lightening» for lightning, etc.);
• it is replete with repetitions and poorly structured and gives the overall impression of being a rushed collage of notes previously used on lecture tours.

Potential buyers would do well to wait for a possible second version that will have been properly edited and proof-read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 24 reviews
41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
Life Between Buildings V.2 Oct. 15 2010
By Vadim Litovchenko - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Overall this is a great book, a great addition to anyone's architecture/planning library and also is also great for people who just getting into the field of planning.
The problem, however is the fact is that it is basically a repetition of everything what has already been said in another timeless book by Jan Gehl "Life Between Buildings". I am very fond of all the work produced by Jan Gehl, and in the end I do not regret buying this book, but it is disappointing to see how little afford was actually put into it. Even some of the pictures are directly taken from his other books. In the end, I want to give it a 5 star review, because it is nevertheless a great book, especially for anybody who is not familiar with other books by Jan Gehl, but I have to give a 3 star review, because it is really a sort new edition of Life Between Buildings. At the same time Life Between Buildings provides a far more detailed analysis about public spaces and its social dimension and is just way more engaging, and I would recommend buying it before Cities for People.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Will Change the Way You Think About Cities - [...] Sept. 27 2010
By TheUrbitect - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.

Key Concepts

-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.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Great pictures! Sept. 24 2011
By Clint Kuipers - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I write this review from the perspective of a lay person. I'm not an architect or an urban planner - I am a real estate agent. So perhaps I'm best described as an interested observer.

However, I really like this book. I've read a few other urban planning books, and as some of the other reviewers suggest, this book doesn't necessarily break a ton of new ground. But the main reason I'm giving this book high marks is for the pictures. The pictures are outstanding. I'd estimate that roughly 40% of the book is pictures that are perfect examples of the illustrations written in the text. They really bring the words alive and give you pause to think about the cityscapes in your own experience.

You barely even need to read this book to feel its effects. Simply viewing the pictures and reading their captions could convey the author's complete sentiment. I found it to be very accessible - using very little specialized language or terms.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Must read for Landscape Architects and Planners Oct. 23 2013
By KG - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book while earning a master's degree in landscape architecture. I highly recommend it to all LA and urban planning students because it clearly identifies and describes the human perceptions that are operative in the outdoor environment. It provides many illustrated examples of places where human perceptions were ignored and where they were given proper attention. It gives designers an understanding of how to incorporate the human element into projects of any scale (gardens, parks, streetscapes, public squares, and cities). Sadly, even the top landscape architecture programs offer little time to this subject, but this book can help fill the void.

The illustrated comparisons are beautiful. Each concept is presented with pictures of a place where the concept was used and where it wasn't, so that at a glance you just "get it."

The bottom line is that projects are likely to fail (in the long run) if the concepts described in Cities for People are ignored. Why? Because ignoring the way that humans are "wired" is a recipe for failure. Overall, I think this was the most important and useful reading during and since my design education. Former classmates who borrowed it from me have purchased their own copies and are using it in their professional careers. I really can't recommend it enough.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A comprehensive approach about the relation between the human scale and the built environment Dec 4 2013
By Rene Ariza Cruz - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you are interested in how to shape cities that take into account the human scale, this book is for you. The Foreword, the Preface, the Six Chapters, the Toolbox and even the Appendix, give the reader a comprehensive approach in relation to how to understand, to study and to shape the built environment from the standpoint of the people who inhabit it. A must read for architects, urban designers, urban planners and landscape architects (both students and professionals).