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Cities for People

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  1,461 ratings  ·  92 reviews
For more than forty years Jan Gehl has helped to transform urban environments around the world based on his research into the ways people actually use—or could use—the spaces where they live and work. In this revolutionary book, Gehl presents his latest work creating (or recreating) cityscapes on a human scale. He clearly explains the methods and tools he uses to reconfigu ...more
Hardcover, 285 pages
Published August 6th 2010 by Island Press (first published May 20th 2010)
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Feb 22, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: business
Jan Gehl presents his perspective on how to properly develop cities on a human scale. He gives persuasive evidence for how modern architecture has departed from the essence of livability that had dictated city design for prior centuries. The main argument brought forward supports pedestrianism as the key to designing cities that are lively, safe, sustainable, and healthy.

If I had to sum up this book in one phrase, it would be, "Cars, bad. Bikes, good."

Some interesting points to consider that I p
Clint Kuipers
Sep 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I write this review from the perspective of a lay person. I’m not an architect or an urban planner – I am a real estate agent. So perhaps I’m best described as an interested observer.

However, I really like this book. I’ve read a few other urban planning books, and as some of the other reviewers suggest, this book doesn’t necessarily break a ton of new ground. But the main reason I’m giving this book high marks is for the pictures. The pictures are outstanding. I’d estimate that roughly 40% of th
Chin Chin
Mar 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: urbanism
This is an amazing book, would definitely recommend to anyone who is into urban studies or design.

At first I had doubts, as a planner and designer I've read loads of things in relation to designing for urban environments in a human scale, however, this book amazed me. It is a timeless, a very international collection of examples, theories, and concepts. I very much enjoy and adore Scandinavian practices so extra points for me there. Lots of good visuals complementing the texts. Very interesting
Elias Rieger
Nov 06, 2017 rated it liked it
The book is most interesting when Gehl dives into the specifics such as scale and dimensions. His insights about how physical distances and barriers can affect social life in cities are profound. He supports his ideas with well-placed illustrations and photographs. Most of his arguments are quite compelling, however they are often redundant. He repeated some topics such as cycling and the small scale over and over. He often writes that we have to "carefully" pay attention when designing the huma ...more
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
Couldn't actually finish it. I gave the second star because I agree with many of the values that the writer has (I know, not a very good reason to give the second star). Jan Gehl has really taken on board with some of the great ideas, e.g. making cities more green or sociable, but there seemed to be no critical thinking going on. They do not discuss, where and how in the city, these should be implemented. As if it was possible to make the cities only for pedestrians and basically in the forest. ...more
Dirk Friesen
Nov 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: maybe-will-read
The harshest thing I can say about the book is that it can be summed up well by its title. I guess that means it has a good title.
It has lots of helpful graphics that really add to the book. Really, they’re fundamental to the book.
For some reason I wanted more practical tools to be outlined in this book. I’m not sure why though. I’m not an urban planner or architect.
Mitchell Mohorovich
Sep 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book covers a wide breadth of urban design and land use concepts, from high level land use and planning in cities, through to the importance of complexity of facades and the number of permeable portals within them, ie. windows, doors.

This book doesn't go too much into detail for each of the topics. You won't be reading through table after table of objective figures, but that's a good thing in my opinion. Firstly, the book would be multiple times longer, and a drudge to get through. Instead
Mats-Laes Nuter
Dec 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: urbaania
Essential, easy to read, eye opening.
Aug 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: urbanism
This book had a lot of interesting information and I found the pictures quite helpful to illustrate and distinguish points. That said, I found it difficult to read this book because it was so frustrating. I hate to put down a book due to linguistic differences, but I found it difficult to read what seemed like a poor translation to English (not sure if that was by the author himself or by someone else, but either way editors should have addressed this). And even putting aside the poor writing qu ...more
Nov 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Cities for People
By Jan Gehl

Overall I think this book is incredibly useful for those starting out in city planning and gathering basic theories that are increasingly at the fore in planning. It's easy to read, gives examples and actually (perhaps unironically) designed well in layout - something I don't tend to notice with books unless done really well.

I give it 2.5 stars/5 mainly due to the premise being fairly basic. I read this and then started The Death and Life of Great American Cities whic
Dean Brickland
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
i definitely recommend reading this if you are interested in urban planning, sociology etc. Jan Gehl has spent a very long time thinking about and researching the information he shares in this book. the importance to humans, a social being, to actually socialize. how cities go about stopping this and how cities go about achieving this. fantastically explained, a lot of pictures and diagrams helping to explain also. not your typical wall of text style book. information is broken up and more enter ...more
Aug 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
This books presents some of the fundamental elements of urban design, transportation planning, and architecture that define how people interact with their city. Unfortunately the typographical layout of the book makes it an awkward back-to-back read, especially the lowercase section titles on the margin where customarily side notes and complimentary material would reside, but the content makes up for this shortcoming. Otherwise reasonable structured and richly illustrated, this book is essential ...more
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Presented the problem and solutions through wonderful graphics that properly explain how cities could be more humane. Everything was concise, although some were repetitive. Gehl has been cited from other books, which led me to reading one of his own, which means he is highly respected by colleagues and provides valuable information that could be applied to most areas. What I loved most is that he provided a chapter for Developing Countries, of which I reside in. He acknowledges the problems that ...more
Shichan Shen
Jul 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Simple and accessible read with many clear illustrations and photos to back up the explanations. It is okay as an introduction to people-oriented city designs, but as a professional in the industry, I was hoping for something a bit more complex and in-depth. Nevertheless, I still learnt a great deal from the book. Would also recommend this for the layman who is interested in understanding the thought processes and significance behind designing delightful urban spaces. I promise you’ll never look ...more
Mar 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's eye opening to read this book and then go out on the street and see how many town planning / urban design errors have been committed against a human centric diverse and functional city in favour of expediting automobile traffic.

Thankfully Melbourne is one of the cities Gehl features to illustrate how some cities are actually doing okay.
Jul 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Gehl, an architect largely responsible for Copenhagen's trend-setting redesign, addresses common issues in city design and helps the reader see them like a designer. Also, helps architects and designers see cities from the perspective of the people who will be using them. Helpful appendix summarizes his most important principles. ...more
Cyrus Molavi
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
A rundown of the elements of city life that improve the human experience. As specific as the width of a square, and as general as the principles that invite or shut out life in public spaces. Written in the format of a light textbook, with the simplicity and humility one would expect from a Scandinavian subject matter expert. One of the best I've read on the topic. ...more
Rajesh Hegde
Aug 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book. Learnt what makes a good human-centric urban city design. Even the book is well laid out with lot of illustrations. You can read the book just going through the pictures and their descriptions. After reading the book, i felt the need to go to places like Venice and Copenhagen and experience good urban design firsthand.
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: urbanism, cities
Interesting thoughts about including the human perspective into urban planning and the overall urban form. The book hit on a lot of fundamental ideas and included lots of pictures. However, I thought that the book could have covered the same information in fewer pages with more clarity. There was a lot of extra information in my opinion. I found the last "toolbox" chapter to be the most useful. ...more
Margarita Kyanidou
A combinational approach of psychology, space and architecture. How people understand and "feel" the limits of space, the boundaries, the dimensions in different scales. How are the users related to space? Which questions have to be answered before the design of a space.
Easy to read! A great guide to evolve to "the eyes of the user" before designing!
Richard Zaslavsky
Nov 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A great book for all those interested in architecture and urban planning. If you'd like to get an idea on how to make the city comfortable for people, how to resolve the transportation problems etc., Jan Gehl explains it perfectly well. ...more
Jun 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is one of the better books I have read about urbanism because of how holistic it is with providing solutions to some of the pressing issues facing major cities. Particularly helpful was the toolbox, which provided a nice summary of the key concepts from previous chapters.
Apr 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
The title really says it all: cities for people. For people to walk around in, for people to cycle in, for standing around in. Cappucino, that wonderful excuse to sit down in a cafe by the street and watch - people, what else. Here's waiting for all this to happen. ...more
Jun 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: urbanism
Lots of wisdom packed into an easy to digest format.
Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Should be a must-read for every municipal politician.
Apr 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: completed
An excellent book on the fundamentals of placemaking.
Erik Tanouye
Jul 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: urban-planning
Got this at The Strand after seeing it listed as the top book about city planning in a list on kottke
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
good one even for those far from Architecture :) gives a perspective on how people-friendely cities should work and look.
Jun 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Excellent book for people interested in urbanism. Minus 1 star for repetitive style though.
Sergii Tkachenko
Oct 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an interesting book if you wanna know what makes cities comfortable for living, it explains lots of urbanism concepts, there are many examples and pictures, but I could not wait to finish it.
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The Global Grid R...: Book Review of "Cities for People" by Jan Gehl 1 2 Dec 11, 2017 04:54AM  

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Jan Gehl is a Danish architect and urban design consultant based in Copenhagen and whose career has focused on improving the quality of urban life by re-orienting city design towards the pedestrian and cyclist.

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“Cities must urge urban planners and architects to reinforce pedestrianism as an integrated city policy to develop lively, safe, sustainable and healthy cities. It is equally urgent to strengthen the social function of city space as a meeting place that contributes toward the aims of social sustainability and an open and democratic society.” 6 likes
“Neither the city planners nor the traffic planners put city space and city life high on their agenda, and for years there was hardly any knowledge about how physical structures influence human behavior. The drastic consequences of this type of planning on people’s use of the city were not recognized until later.” 1 likes
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