SIFF 2013: The Human Scale ***

By Dennis Hartley

(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on May 25, 2013)

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Here’s a concept: In the Utopian future, cities will be designed at the behest of urban dwellers, as opposed to urban “planners”. In case you hadn’t noticed, most cities cramp our style with tightly-packed high-rises and dense noisy traffic, which doesn’t leave much space for the traditional “town square”. In his documentary The Human Scale, Danish director Andreas M. Dalsgaard examines the work of architect Jan Gehl, who posits that the fatal flaw of modern urban design lies in its ignorance of cultural anthropology. This results in cities blighted by social isolation and alienation. After conducting his own study over several decades, Gehl concluded that humans are happiest in a low-rise cityscape, enhanced with open public spaces (it’s rumored that we’re social creatures). Copenhagen is shown as one example of a city that has become more sustainable and people-centric. A fascinating, refreshingly optimistic look at creating a new paradigm.

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