In 1994 Jan Gehl worked with Melbourne City Council to analyse the challenges and potential of the city centre, because Melbourne had no public squares and a low quality of social life. With the help of Public Space/Public Life surveys Gehl could measure people-oriented indicators like how and where people walk and spend time, and what else they do in public spaces at different times of the day and week. Based on Jan Gehl’s findings, Melbourne’s city agencies worked over the next decade to achieve an impressive number of urban improvements.
The Market Street connects San Francisco Bay to the hills of the city, and downtown businesses to the surrounding neighbourhoods, and is therefore ideally located. It is one of the West Coast’s most iconic streets, but hasn’t realized its full potential. Hence, the city hired Gehl Architects in 2010 to lead the urban design that will reinvigorate Market Street as San Francisco’s civic, cultural and economic centre.
The Department of Transport in New York wished to achieve a reduction of traffic, increase walking and cycling and to improve public life. But New York had a dominating car culture and in addition infrastructure and systems were out of date. Therefore, the Department of Transport needed experience, inspiration and concrete tools to transform New York in a sustainable city on a human scale. Through his projects and researches Gehl Architects from Copenhagen had the required prerequisites to help and to transform New York.
The Rosengård housing estate in Malmö was built as part of the Swedish ‘Million Homes’ programme during the 1960s and 1970s. With 10,000 apartments and 25,000 residents, it is one of the largest housing areas in Scandinavia. But Rosengård, like many large-scale schemes, turned into a socially and economically isolated area, and it counted as one of the most deprived areas in Sweden. Furthermore, less than 1% of the vast expanses between the high-rise buildings consisted of private gardens and terraces.
For a city to be successful there is a need for good public spaces. This fact is also more and more recognized as an important factor for prosperous city by city administrations across Europe. Furthermore, public spaces have the ability to revitalize and create economic and social development opportunities. But for many municipal governments it is hard to find ways to build and maintain healthy public spaces.
It is very difficult to find a place to sit and relax in an urban environment primary designed for transport with asphalt roads, concrete sidewalks and brick buildings. Hence, towns and cities are transforming parking spots in parklets – public seating platforms that convert curbside parking spaces into vibrant community spaces. They’re mostly designed with a place to sit, greenery and sometimes bike racks.