Facts are telling us that modern life comes with heavy side-effects. The consequences are seen on many levels. Growing violence and insecurity. Social exclusion at an ever greater scale. Human alienation and social fobia. Depression and anxiety are the diseases of today. Have we invented a diagnosis for an old problem, or is it in fact a diagnosis of the society we have created?
Architect Jan Gehl and his team at Gehl Architects study the life and behaviour of people in cities. They study patterns of human behaviour and seek to create urban design that inspires social interaction. They call it "the good life". The approach is defined as humanistic design, in which the people are more important than the design. During 40 years Jan Gehl has studied how the built environment can create social interaction. And when it doesn't.
Today, fifty percent of the worlds population live in urban areas. By 2050, this figure is expected to have increased by eighty percent. The megacity is both enchanting and scary. But how do we plan these cities? Typically, with gigantic systems of highways, highrise buildings, and life divided into separate cubicles and squares? But where do people meet in these cities? And if they don't, how does that affect their happiness? Can the urban design inspire social behaviour rather than repel it?
How do we design cities for people? What defines our happiness, and can the built environment inspire greater happiness? Clearly Copenhagen is not the only model for a happy life. But Gehl Architects offer a methodology rather than a model - a method to study and understand human behaviour. In fact they are still developing their method as we speak. Gehl Architects are a bank of knowledge bank and research center rather than a architecture-group. They try to understand us better. For us to create better cities.