Swimming with the Razorfishes

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Royal Institute of British Architects: A new strategy for London streets "Towards A Fine City for People"

Interesting article. I'm a closet urban planner, so I love this stuff.

"This confusion, said Gehl, ‘is a way of telling people you are not loved in this place’, and London he added ‘is a city without seats’. ‘We saw a place where perhaps 100,000 people pass in a day and there were no seats,’ which was no good for the elderly or infirm."

This is one of the things that strikes me about London, something that stands in stark contrast to New York; the focus on people. Where in New York you see one worker at a subway entrance, a token booth clerk (if you are lucky), in London you'll often see several. There are personal touches everywhere, points of contact between people, human consideration.

Sometimes, in New York, you get the sense that we've descended to an "every man for himself" mentality. A relentless focus on the bottom line encourages businesses to cut staff (and service) to the bare minimum, and pushes cities to devote every possible square foot to generating income.

It is nice to interact with humans, rather than machines. It is nice for a city to acknowledge that people are its lifeblood, and to accommodate people, rather than automobiles, in its thoroughfares.

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