PETALING JAYA (September 28): An approach that puts life first and people in the foreground is all about spatial and personal experiences, said Esben Neander Kristensen, director and team leader at Gehl Architects. âIt has to do with looking at planning and design based on a more isolated understanding of things – you create a landscape plan, a mobility plan, a zoning plan, a density and development plan and so on – and you combine all these aspects with one strong element sustainability to this holistic approach in which life and people are the focus, âhe said during his lecture onâ Sustainable Urban Mobility âat the 12th edition of the World Class Sustainable Cities (WCSC) 2021 on Monday, 27th September. The conference ends on Tuesday, September 28th.
In order to design inviting, livable cities, districts, spaces and mobility systems and sometimes to redesign them, according to Kristensen, it is about understanding the place, the context and the way in which we move through the cities. âIt’s about how we understand public life through observation and analysis, people moving into other spaces, and what that means for this vision of integration.
âWe don’t have to spend as much time in public space as we used to. So urban life is very much about creating inviting and high quality spaces for those who need to go into public space. We have to create a beautiful, attractive and dignified experience for them too, âhe added.
As an example, he cited a street in Mexico City that has more pedestrians per hour than Broadway, New York, but which was not perceived as a nice place to walk. “How can you use this potential to create a new situation and a new perspective on the street as a green, attractive place for pedestrians and how long they can stay?”
Kristensen also suggested measuring at eye level or meeting people on site to know what is actually needed. âIt’s not always enough and there are so many ways to collect data, but it’s really important to go out and see what’s going on on site. We also use large data sets like social demographics, online surveys, traffic data, data from social media, Google and so on. “
It also looks at the ecological aspect – water, landscape, environment, air quality, as well as how comfortable it is to walk, how a good microclimate can be used to invite people to walk more and spend more time outdoors How we shop and access groceries.
According to Kristensen, it is important for cities to have a strategic north star or to understand that all different projects lead in the same direction. âIt’s very easy to take this tactical project-based approach of looking at a project in isolation, not how it fits into the bigger picture. Much of this also has to do with working with stakeholders and communities to define shared visions, challenges, and opportunities.
âWe should always concentrate on all user groups and not just make assumptions. We should focus on the mobility of people, not necessarily vehicles, as a starting point, and also use and develop the link between public space and mobility, âhe said.
Mobility works for him when it works for people. âThat means people get a good experience out of it every day, and that’s often the little things. For example, a bed element that you can stand next to the bike while waiting for the red light – a small detail that doesn’t cost much, but makes a huge difference in the experience … makes cycling much nicer in this room. ”
We think of air conditioning in hot places, of course, but Kristensen suggested that we should also think about planting trees and making sure that is a priority for all of the different useful things trees do. “I think if you can lower the ambient temperature in the room by five degrees … that makes a big difference … we have to think about how we can find solutions to solve these things that prevent people from riding bikes, public transport to use and walk. “
Walking on Malaysian streets can be quite a challenge. âIf you have a sidewalk that is dominated by parking lots, you may have to walk outside and be exposed to things like a motor vehicle passing by. So think a little about the section of road and make sure that we allocate the correct number of meters to each use of the section. “
Regarding the hot climate in the country, Kristensen suggested thinking about it systematically. âCan we make it easier? You may be exposed to some heat, but if you can save a lot of time parking and stuck in traffic it can be worth it on its own. I think that’s the reason a lot of people make it, âhe said.
A project Kristensen is working on in Copenhagen is about understanding the relationship between air quality and public space and mobility. âIf you put yourself in the shoes of a three-year-old, your eye level is about three feet off the ground and you are much closer to where the exhaust from cars and so on come in. Children breathe four times as fast as adults and therefore take in much more polluted air. In this case, we looked at the collection of air quality data and tried to find out where we can try to reduce pollution and air particles and where we can invite children to spend more time in rooms that are less exposed to pollution. “
âI think it’s really important to use mobility to create a new urban community where people can meet, especially in a world where we’re drifting apart in our bubbles and social media,â he concluded.