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The Human Scale

The Human Scale

Acclaimed architect Jan Gehl and his team are on a humanistic mission to reclaim public space in mega cities for pedestrians (and cyclists) rather than cars.

This human/new approach to city planning is put to test in Denmark, Los Angeles, New York, China, Australia, New Zealand and India.

50% of the world's population lives in urban areas, by 2050 it will be 80%. Cities have become the primary human habitat. According to revolutionary Danish architect and urban planner Jan Gehl, if we are to make cities sustainable and livable for people we must re-imagine the very foundations of modern urban planning. Rather than examining buildings and urban structures themselves, Gehl and his team meticulously study the in-between spaces of urban life, the places where people meet, interact, live, and behave.

How do the spaces that surround us enhance or disturb our interactions with others? How can we make our streets more accessible by foot or bike? Through his world acclaimed work, Gehl has been leading a revolution in urban planning that has been transforming cities worldwide. From the expanded pedestrian spaces in New York's Union Square, to Copenhagen's famed bike lanes, to the rebuilding of earthquake devastated Christchurch, New Zealand, Gehl's team bring real solutions that promise a more humanistic dimension to cities where people are not displaced by congested streets, skyscrapers, and the car-centric urbanism of the 1960s and '70s.

Stunningly photographed, THE HUMAN SCALE travels around the world to explore how Gehl and other like minded designers, city planners, and urban activists have begun to transform such cities as as New York, Beijing, Christchurch, and London.

"The Human Scale illustrates the spread and value of Professor Gehl's ideas beyond his transformation of his hometown Copenhagen to Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and North America. As we need to double our urban capacity by 2050, we all should become students of the city. Through this film, Professor Gehl and his colleagues help teach us how to look at cities very carefully and to better understand how they work. The Human Scale is a terrific teaching tool for classes in city planning, urban design, architecture, and landscape architecture as well as for the broader public." Frederick Steiner, Dean, School of Architecture, University of Texas at Austin, Author of Design for a Vulnerable Planet

"Andreas M. Dalsgaard's excellent urban-planning documentary should enthuse pedestrians, bike riders and public-space proponents everywhere...makes an excellent case for designing cities around people instead of automobiles." Ronnie Scheib, Variety

"Four Stars! The Human Scale is a well designed, smartly shot and freshly intelligent look at the wide world of urban planning." Daniel Walber, Nonfics "Beautifully lensed, with a smart selection of test case cities under consideration, Dalsgaard's film is a compelling think piece." Basil Tsiokos, whatnottodoc

"The global journey strongly enlivens the lesson; it's fascinating how alike and how different cities can be, and more fascinating to imagine what they may become." David DeWitt, New York Times

"The doc is wonderful. The film is largely about the very encouraging (for me) reaction to our present situation. The think about encouraging happy accidents. To create common spaces. To find less disruptive ways of getting around. To bring us back together." David Byrne, musician and bicycle enthusiast


Main credits

Gehl, Jan (Narrator)
Dalsgaard, Andreas M (Director)
Dalsgaard, Andreas M (Screenwriter)
Sorensen, Signe Byrge (Producer)

Other credits

Cinematographers, Heikki Färm ... [et al.]; editors, Søren B. Ebbe ... [et al.]; music, Kristian Selin Eidnes Andersen.

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

Global Issues
Mental Health
Migration and Refugees
Social Psychology
Urban Studies
Urban and Regional Planning


Danish architect; Jan Gehl; cities as primary human habitat; urban planning; sustainable cities; re-imagining foundations of modern urban planning; in-between spaces of urban life; studying urban life; making streets more accessible; revolution in urban planning; transforming cities; Union Square; Copenhagen bicycles; rebuilding Christchurch NZ; more humanistic cities; car-centric cities; city planners; urban activists; New York; Beijing; London; David Byrne

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