If You Build It They Will Come
You could call it the Field of Dreams approach to city planning: if you build it, they will come.
Specifically, if you build humanly scaled, inviting public spaces in a city, people will want to go to those spaces. If you build quality cycling infrastructure, more people will hop on their bikes. If you build dense but attractive urban living spaces — not imposing towers plunked on the ground — people will want to live there.
That’s what renowned Danish architect Jan Gehl had to say when he stopped in Calgary earlier this month, and his message couldn’t be more timely for a city at a crossroads about its future. Gehl advises cities from New York City to Melbourne, and the thrust of his work is this: Cities should be designed for people, not cars. “To a [large] extent, as architects and planners, we have lost our sense of scale,” he says. “We’ve forgotten that we are basically a walking animal, a five km/h horizontal walking animal.”
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