The Human Scale

Most of us have felt the claustrophobic grind of being stuck in traffic – gridlocked or in peak hour as our congested roads and freeways choke from poor urban planning and design. 50% of the world’s population currently lives in urban areas and by 2050 this will increase to 80%. Recently, the Modscape team saw Andreas Dalsgaard’s documentary The Human Scale – a film that questions our assumptions about urbanism and explores what happens when we put people in the centre of our planning . . .

The film takes a close look at the work of Danish architect and urban visionary Jan Gehl, who for 40 years has systematically studied human behaviour in cities – in particular the way humans move through public spaces. According to Gehl, we know more about creating good habitat for mountain gorillas or Siberian tigers than we do about designing cities that function well for humans.

Past efforts of urban planning of megacities have focused primarily on traffic flow, creating epicentres of congestion and isolation for pedestrians. Gehl strongly believes that if we are to avoid lumbering our future with more of this version of urban design, we need to create a human scaled city that includes healthier, redesigned spaces.

The Human Scale looks at the necessity of re-evaluating urban design in five sections. Each section focuses on a city – including New York, Copenhagen, Dhaka, Chongqing, and Christchurch – and how that city has adapted or failed to adapt to the demands of its population. You don’t have to be an architect or an urban planner to appreciate the insight this documentary offers, and the influence it has in making you consciously aware of your own city or backyard.

For more information about the film including sneak previews, screening locations and information on the experts, visit The Human Scale website.