Is it time to rethink our cities?

Is the human factor neglected in city planning? With London’s blue superhighway under scrutiny after 14 cyclists were killed last year, you might be inclined to think so.

This is the focus of Danish filmmaker Andreas Dalsgaard’s visually striking documentary The Human Scale, to be screened this month at Hackney Empire. The film questions our modern lifestyles and shifts the lens from the “bricks and mortar” of the city to make, according to Dalsgaard, “the human being visible.”

Taking its inspiration from the work of Danish architect and professor Jan Gehl, The Human Scale focuses on human behaviour and examines the importance of the ‘space between the buildings’, proposing that cities should be built around its people instead of technology.

The documentary shows that 50 per cent of the world’s population currently lives in cities with the figure set to rise to 80 per cent by 2050, making issues such as climate change, health and loneliness paramount.

Dalsgaard interviews activists and philanthropists such as Mark Gorton, who points to the streets “choked with traffic” and believes “we’ve made our own living environment deadly for people”.

The film examines cities such as New York, Melbourne and Chongqing. Dalsgaard considers the absurdity of New York’s Times Square, a Square without a square. In China’s city of Chongqing, city planners go back on their promises of a pedestrian-friendly crossing, opting instead to prioritise car traffic. It is an act of social blindness that is challenged throughout The Human Scale.

Dalsgaard’s documentary articulates the impossibly plural landscape of the city by asking questions to its people.

With ever-increasing transportation fares, dangerous cycle superhighways and rocketing house prices, The Human Scale is a documentary that Londoners should be able to relate to. Are we happy with the spaces we inhabit? Do we interact enough with our fellow citizens? These are questions that are pertinent to anybody, whether from Hackney, New York or Dhaka.

Source: Hackney Citizen

NB: Press Cutting Service

This article is culled from daily press coverage from around the world. It is posted on the Urban Gateway by way of keeping all users informed about matters of interest. The opinion expressed in this article is that of the author and in no way reflects the opinion of UN-Habitat