20. May 2016

Comments by Riccardo Marini, Gehl Architects

Urban quality is all about place making, turning a neighbourhood, town or city from a place you cannot wait to get through to one you never want to leave. But what kind of city do the city dwellers want? Does anyone ever ask them?!

In a nutshell, the criteria that determine urban quality are protection, comfort and delight. Protection against vehicular traffic, crime and violence, and unpleasant sensory experiences; comfort in the form of inviting places to spend time in and enjoy interaction and recreation with others at different times of the day and year; and delight through the creation of human-scale public spaces, addressing the positive aspects of climate, while appealing to people’s aesthetic taste and sensory preferences.

Designing public space requires the planners to understand public life. After all, a place is a reflection of the culture of the people who created it. That is why we buy and send postcards when we visit new places. We prefer to adhere to a simple “postcard reality” rather than deliberating whether the city we visited was a dream or a nightmare.

From about the 1940’s onwards we failed to create truly good places. In the effort to be ultra-efficient following the recession we tended to separate functions such as planning, economic development, housing, culture and leisure, education, roads, social services, environmental services. But can this all be put together again? Should that be the goal? […]


The full version of the article can be found in PLD No. 101

Our PLD magazine app (iPad App Store) contains a media-enhanced version


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