This man, Jan Gehl, is the very embodiment of people-oriented urban planning. He is to architecture what Al Gore and David Suzuki, combined, are to environmentalism. Plus, he has an adorable Danish accent.
A few colleagues and I attended a free guest lecture of Jan’s at the Vancouver Playhouse tonight; the event was generously hosted by the UBC School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. It was a full house, unsurprisingly. To quote, he “is the guiding spirit of cycling and pedestrian friendly cities, and has influenced design and implementation throughout Europe, and from New York to our own separated bikeways [in Vancouver].” Throw in some sarcasm, political cartoons, and the interesting word choices from a non-native English speaker, and you have one pretty entertaining presenter. ’Bird shit architecture’ was by far, my favourite term he taught us all.
I bought his book entitled ‘Cities for People’ at the end of the presentation. I told him, during our small talk as he was autographing the book, that I recently lived in Copenhagen and wanted to return as soon as possible.
“Why?” he mumbled, with a half smirk.
“Well, I really like the lifestyle, especially the biking.”
“Okay, what’s her name?”