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Cities for People 1st Edition

25 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1597265737
ISBN-10: 159726573X
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In this fascinating look inside the key architectural factors that determine a city's livability, award-winning Danish architect and author Gehl (Public Spaces, Public Life) examines the factors he deems essential to a successful city. Not surprisingly, places designed without good room for safe walking and biking lead to a sedentary life "behind steering wheel and computer screen." A "lively" city, on the other hand, "counters the trend for people to withdraw into gated communities… serving a democratic function where people encounter social diversity." It's in examining architecture's psychological effects that Gehl truly shines; public spaces without comfortable seating and properly-scaled "talkscapes" evoking Italian piazzas enact a high human toll and greatly impact how the city functions at eye-level. Soaring, dehumanizing architecture has a diminishing effect on the individual, creating a shocking "high-rise" in crime rates. Even those without a professional interest in architecture will be fascinated by the assertions, like "slow traffic means lively cities," that Gehl makes. Coming to the conclusion that "a good city is like a good party: guests stay because they are enjoying themselves," Gehl keeps his latest effort engaging from start to finish. Illus. (Sept.)
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"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)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Island Press; 1 edition (September 6, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159726573X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597265737
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.9 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #92,195 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Vadim Litovchenko on October 15, 2010
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.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By TheUrbitect on September 27, 2010
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.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Clint Kuipers on September 24, 2011
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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By KG on October 23, 2013
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.
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