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article imageReview: 'The Human Scale' provides an alternate view on urban planning Special

By Kristal Cooper     Oct 28, 2013 in Entertainment
Toronto - Big city-dwellers are very well-versed in living with overcrowding, whether it be while attempting to share the narrow streets with cyclists, public transit and cars on the morning commute or watching as high rise condo towers take over the skyline.
This is a problem shared by many large cities in the world and Danish city planner Jan Gehl is trying to do something about it. As he sees it, the way to plan for a population that is set to double over the next 40 years is to re-design cities on a smaller scale with a human element in mind – more green space and pedestrian-friendly areas, less reliance on cars, and lower rise buildings that encourage people to interact with one another and leave their dwelling to explore the city. The Human Scale looks at cities that are looking to drastically change their infrastructure, like New York, which has already begun to successfully implement some of Gehl’s suggestions in order to fix their gridlock problem, and Christchurch which is set to completely re-build their downtown core after 2011′s devastating earthquake.
While the film can, at times, come across as a bit of an in-class lesson in urban planning, that doesn’t take away from its important message or the fact that Gehl and his team have some really smart and well-thought out suggestions for improving the life of the city dweller. It’s also really interesting to visit cities like Dhaka, Bangledesh and Chongqing, China to observe how the population influx has crippled the way their cities work and what specific changes need to be made to fix the problem. As it turns out, over-crowding is kind of a universal problem.
This film is essential for those who are nerds for urban planning, but even if you have just a passing interest in the subject it’s well worth your time. Oh and if you happen to work on the City Council for any major city, this film is very definitely something to take into consideration.
The Human Scale opens in Toronto the Bloor Cinema on November 8, 2013. For more info on the film, visit the website.
More about The Human Scale, Jan Gehl, Urban planning, Documentary
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