Life Between Buildings: Life Lost and Refound, by Ingrid and Jan Gehl
June 24, 2018 7:32 PM   Subscribe

“Why are you architects not interested in people?” Ingrid Gehl asked her new husband, Jan. “What do you think about the fact that your architecture professors take their photos at four o’clock in the morning . . . without the distraction of people in the photos?” The little-known behavioral scientist who transformed cities all over the world is the story of Ingrid Gehl, the psychologist who helped her now famous husband, Jan Gehl, in his battle to make cities livable. See also: Live Between Buildings (20 minute video, "annotated" links below the break)

Titles referenced in the video, plus two links with modern materials from Jan Gehl's work:
posted by filthy light thief (7 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
Great and timely post filthy light thief, thanks for putting it together. In my experience this is still common - most architects buildings I see look like they've just landed from space [3:33] (and obviously planned from above as outlined in the film) - and set in a nice, clean post-rapture world. We've lost the connection between designer, builder, building owner and building dweller.

I think the break is where finance steps in and all else get pushed out in order not just to make a profit, but a dividend too.

At the same time designers need to loiter more in the spaces they design - seems Gehl practice what they preach, draw with pencil more oh and go on bad weather days too.
posted by unearthed at 8:35 PM on June 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

After I read about houses being "machines for living," and gagged, I found Christopher Alexander and said "yes yes, this is how to think about houses and building."
posted by MovableBookLady at 9:19 PM on June 24, 2018 [4 favorites]

This is a great set of links, thanks! I’ve read some of Gehl’s work but somehow hadn’t realized that he started a firm 20 years ago. It sounds like a new generation is picking up the mantle— fantastic. The scale of development that exists today demands a constant and unwavering advocacy for basic human livability- people are the first sacrifice when working with millions of square feet. I remember touring through Daniel Liebskind’s studio around 2005, the number of highly talented young people wasting their ability plopping the same tortured forms on condo towers in multiple continents was depressing. I suppose rehabilitation is always possible...
posted by q*ben at 10:11 PM on June 24, 2018

One more link: the Project for Public Spaces.
posted by q*ben at 10:13 PM on June 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

We've lost the connection between designer, builder, building owner and building dweller.

Definitely. I've just moved to a job in a fancy, award-winning office building. It's won loads of awards for sustainability, green this and that, energy-saving everything... but I've still had to buy a decent pair of noise cancelling headphones in order to be able to think, because we're jammed in and there are usually two or three conference calls going on at desks within 10 feet of me. Also the shortest path from the lift to the stairs goes between two desks, and it's driving those particular folks insane.

IME architect-designed buildings are to living/working as catwalk fashions are to everyday wear.
posted by 43rdAnd9th at 4:40 AM on June 25, 2018 [4 favorites]

Thanks for this excellent collection of links! Yes, time to dig up Christopher Alexander again.
posted by carter at 7:38 AM on June 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

IME architect-designed buildings are to living/working as catwalk fashions are to everyday wear.

It really depends on what the process was. If the client tells us that the floor needs to handle 30 people on the daily and then when it gets to the space planning (after core and shell has been designed, possibly after build out) they add another 10 people....well, that's not the architect's fault. There's metrics that can be applied for minimum sf per person and then get ignored when finalized by the client. In a big fancy building, some of the spaces might get sold before being built and then customized to that client but usually there's spaces that don't get sold so when your company comes in and needs twice the size for a printer room, space for a shuffleboard table and X number of employees more than they designed for on another floor.... how it gets laid out and designed is now so far away from the initial pro-forma and building design as to have nothing to do with each other.

Architects can absolutely be myopic but they are often, factually, the "little guys" when it comes to getting good design built.
posted by amanda at 8:47 PM on June 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

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