Cities for People

By: Jan Gehl

In February 2021, we will read an absolute classic by Danish architect and urban design expert Jan Gehl: “Cities for People”.

Join the discussion at @urbanismbookclub on Instagram and share your examples of cities designed for people!


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 reconfigure unworkable cityscapes into the landscapes he believes they should be: cities for people.

Taking into account changing demographics and changing lifestyles, Gehl emphasizes four human issues that he sees as essential to successful city planning. He explains how to develop cities that are Lively, Safe, Sustainable, and Healthy. Focusing on these issues leads Gehl to think of even the largest city on a very small scale. For Gehl, the urban landscape must be considered through the five human senses and experienced at the speed of walking rather than at the speed of riding in a car or bus or train. This small-scale view, he argues, is too frequently neglected in contemporary projects.

In a final chapter, Gehl makes a plea for city planning on a human scale in the fast- growing cities of developing countries. A “Toolbox,” presenting key principles, overviews of methods, and keyword lists, concludes the book.
The book is extensively illustrated with over 700 photos and drawings of examples from Gehl’s work around the globe.

Best Quote

Topics Covered


Discussion Questions

Thank you, everyone! We had a particularly lively discussion this month. One example for attempts at making a city more pedestrian-friendly came in from Rawalpindi in Pakistan:

“Here, we we are trying to work on mobility challenges, and making the street pedestrian friendly. It’s a historic market in Rawalpindi with a lot of dilapidated Heritage sites, commercial and residential density around it. It’s a complexity and the solution is process. We are learning by doing and would be happy to connect with people with similar projects. We are part of an organisation called Urban Innovations, working with UNDP’s urban platform.”

Project area in Raja Bazar, Rawalpindi. Copyright: Dr. Naveed Iftikhar, director of Urban Innovations.



This post shows another example for pedestrian challenges, this time in Bogotá, Colombia.


To learn more about Jan Gehl and his recommendations for cities, follow these links:

Jan Gehl: Planning Cities on the Human Scale

European Habitat in Prague

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