(The Human Scale)
Andreas M. Dalsgaard / DK, 2012
English version / Czech subtitles, 83 min
Are cities for cars or people? It is a fact that while we have a great deal of data on the needs of automobile use, we know very little about the behaviour of pedestrians in cities. For more than 40 years, Dane Jan Gehl, who pioneered a humanistic approach to urbanism, has been looking at the other side of the equation of city life. Rather than examine buildings, he looks at what is between them: people and their interactions. He proposes a solution that returns the “human scale” displaced by trunk roads, skyscrapers, transport structures and urbanism of the 1960s and ’70s. Using powerful shots of urban landscapes, A.M. Dalsgaard’s film presents the approach of Gehl’s team, who are transforming cities such as London, Melbourne, New York, Los Angeles, Beijing and Shanghai. Time Square is transformed for good overnight, with most cars removed and space freed up for cyclists and pedestrians. In some Chinese megalopolises, efforts are being undertaken to avoid the basic mistakes made by the planners of modern Western cities. Can this humanistic approach to urbanism succeed in the face of the opposed interests of developers and local governments?