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How to Study Public Life 2nd Edition

10 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1610914239
ISBN-10: 1610914236
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Editorial Reviews


" serves also as a knowledge map for those interested in understanding the roots of the renaissance of public spaces as a field of attention in urban planning, looking back at authors that influenced the works not only of Jan Gehl, but also of all those addressing a new understanding of the importance of public life in our cities nowadays."
(Ciudades a Escala Humana)

"In sharing how public life-public space interactions can be systematically approached and taught, I don’t hesitate to say that How to Study Public Life is must-read for anybody and everybody entrenched in urban development, design and planning—from students and practitioners to municipal officials and policy makers."

"For decades, the public space, public life studies developed by Jan Gehl and his team have been a great inspiration for professionals, academics and city planners in all parts of the world. Now their secret tools are available to everyone in How to Study Public Life. It is just a matter now of getting out there and putting them to use."
(Peter Newman Professor of Sustainability, Curtin University, Australia)

"This important book is published at a time when the dynamics of urbanization dictate a better integration of urban activities, which Gehl has long shown how to achieve."
(Peter Bosselmann Professor of Urban Design, University of California, Berkeley)

"Applying the principles of public life studies at the City of Melbourne has proven to be an invaluable tool for making our city more livable. How to Study Public Life is an essential tool-oriented book for all those striving to create better cities for people."
(Rob Adams Director of City Design, City of Melbourne)

"Gehl and Svarre's How to Study Public Life is a refreshing manual for how to engage design professionals and the general public to observe, analyze, and assess the nature of their city."

"Thanks to Gehl and Svarre, urban designers have a helpful reference for getting started with the process of getting outside into public spaces to look and learn"
(A Daily Dose of Architecture)

"Danish architect Jan Gehl and coauthor Birgitte Svarre provide a nicely illustrated overview of the the field they call 'public-life studies' in How to Study Public Life."

"This is an excellent primer on how to 'recapture public life' as an important dimension in the design of vibrant, pedestrian-friendly city spaces. Gehl and Svarre... offer fine-grained guidance on the range of behaviors to observe, tools to employ for observing and documenting, and the types of life-enhancing design solutions generated from interpretation of collected data... This is an important book for architecture and design programs at all levels."

"fills a gap in the literature...Gehl is an unassuming but essential guide to this criminally underutilized method of analysis."
(Planetizen's Top 10 Books of 2014)

About the Author

Jan Gehl is a founding partner of Gehl Architects—Urban Quality Consultants. He is the author of Life Between Buildings and Cities for People. 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.

Birgitte Bundesen Svarre holds an MA in modern culture from the University of Copenhagen and a PhD from the School of Architecture in Copenhagen. She is part of Gehl Institute, the division at Gehl Architects that works with research and communication of knowledge at workshops for city planners, politicians and others with interest in life in the cities – as well as suburbs, a topic she has specialized within. She is a guest lecturer at various universities.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Island Press; 2 edition (October 15, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1610914236
  • ISBN-13: 978-1610914239
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 0.7 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,119 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Alex Kafka on July 18, 2014
Format: Hardcover
This book provides an excellent introduction to simple but highly effective methods of studying public life in cities. Many of the research methods (counting, mapping, tracing) are low-tech, only requiring paper, pen, a watch, and some rigour, thus available to anyone. Most of the book is dedicated to succinctly presented examples of how these methods can be used, from small case studies of streets and squares to large urban areas. While many examples are taken from Gehl's extensive research since the 1960s until today, other classic as well as recent studies have been also included. Readers new to the topic will be amazed to find out how many things can be learned through simple methodical observations about the way the design of public spaces affects peoples' behaviour.

The book is clearly intended as a very easy read, with many highly effective diagrams and photographs, making it accessible to everyone. While focused on observation methods, it also introduces some basic urban design concepts and provides a good guidance to the broader literature in the field. For those that are already familiar with the topic, there won't be many surprises as much of the content is recycled from earlier publications, but it can be still useful as it compiles a broad range of research methods together in a new format. After Gehl's 1987 classic Life Between Buildings, this is probably the most interesting book he published.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Vicente Del Rio on November 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent new book by Gehl and his collaborator Svarre. A great account of the evolution of studies of public life and a description of a series of methods to study behavior in public spaces. Goes beyond his couple of previous books which were pretty much the same and did not break any new ground. Too bad the graphic designer who did the cover of this book did not notice he is advertising Stella Artois... or maybe that was his intention.. (top right corner).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By DC Book Angel on March 26, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Jan Gehl and his coauthor offer a vision and explanation for what public spaces can be and why certain kinds of public space appeal and others do not. The grand wide boulevards may look great on paper and from the air, but to the individual pedestrian they are at a scale too large to enjoy. Conversely, failing to adequately segregate cars from humans on foot or bicycle leads to a different kind of obstacle to public gathering and sharing of spaces. While this book should be mandatory for city planners, managers, and transportation directors everywhere, it should also appeal to smart decisionmakers and citizens who care about how civilized civic engagement can be increased through appropriate design.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Jan Gehl provides an interesting perspective in the study of urban life and how to understand it in order tu build new and better cities.

The book is fitted for professional city planners and enthusiast alike, since it provides simple tools and techniques to work on community building.

I very much enjoyed this book.
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By Fabio Bortoli on October 3, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An intersting review of thecnics and methodology. Lack of reference in contemporary bibliografy.
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