Our Director of Recruitment Ellyn Lester attended the first showing of the New York Architecture and Design Film Festival at Tribeca Cinemas. Here’s her review of the Danish film The Human Scale.
The Architecture and Design Film Festival opened to a full house with two showings of The Human Scale, a recent film by Andreas Dalsgaard about quality public space and its greatest champion, Danish Architect Jan Gehl. Gehl’s book Life Between Buildings was originally published in 1971 and translated into English in the early 80s. The greatest compliment that I can give the film is that its construction and visuals mirror the parsimony and tone of Jan’s book, which includes measured and thoughtful passages like “Life in buildings and between buildings seems in nearly all situations to rank as more essential and more relevant than the spaces and buildings themselves.”
Jan’s journey began in 1965 with the Piazza del Campo in Sienna, Italy. What he learned he applied to Copenhagen, which gradually expanded into a network of streets that are walkable, have amenities, and are filled with spontaneous activity of all kinds. As The Human Scale engagingly relates, cities like Melbourne, Dhaka, New York, Chongqing and Christchurch are becoming cities for people instead of cities for vehicular traffic. The film is successful at communicating the essential human-centric nature of the almost half decade of gradual but significant progress that Jan’s initial curiosity catalyzed and whose life’s work it represents.