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Brasilia and Other Examples of 'Bird S#!t Architecture'

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Brasilia and Other Examples of 'Bird S#!t Architecture'
Australian Broadcasting Corporation - Melbourne Town Hall
An important paradigm change happened around 1960. City planning, as a concept, took off on a huge scale in response to the challenge of fast-growing cities. At the same time, traffic planning took over the planning at eye level to address the rapid influx of cars. In the rough and tumble of all this, caring for the people who use cities was completely left behind.

By 1961, people like Jane Jacobs raised her voice about this new situation in her book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities. But, not much happened for three or four decades. The idea of "Cities for People" became an overlooked and forgotten dimension.

This is the story told by Jan Gehl in his new book. He describes why looking after people is crucial for the quality of cities in the 21st century, how it can be accomplished and how it is actually done by now in more and more projects in more and more cities. The transformations carried out in such cities as Copenhagen, Melbourne, Sydney, Amman and New York will serve as examples of this new people-oriented direction in planning.

Gehl shares his life-long experience of urban development and the increasing connections between physical form and human behavior. If we don't turn our cities around, he warns, we could be facing a social catastrophe.

His talk is part of the Melbourne Conversations series, presented by the City of Melbourne. Afterward, Gehl is joined in a panel discussion by Victorian government architect Jill Garner and moderator Professor Rob Adams, the Director of City Design for the City of Melbourne.

Jan Gehl is a trained architect and Professor of Urban Design in The School of Architecture at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. His international teachings include stints at universities in Edinburgh, Vilnius, Oslo, Wroclaw, Dresden, Toronto, Calgary, Melbourne, Perth, Berkeley, San José, Guadalajara, Jogjakarta and Cape Town. Gehl has consulted on city improvement projects in Europe, America, Australia and Asia - most recently New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Amman, Oman, Sydney and Melbourne. His publications include "Life Between Buildings - Using Public Space", "Public Spaces - Public Life, "New City Spaces" , "New City Life" and "Cities for People". Gehl has been awarded the "Sir Patrick Abercrombie Prize for exemplary contributions to Town Planning" by The International Union of Architects as well as an honorary doctors degree from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh.

Jill Garner is the Associate Victorian Government Architect. She established Garner Davis Architects, a St Kilda-based architecture studio, with Lindsay Davis in 1990. After winning the design competition for the Wagga Wagga Civic Centre in 1995, GDA commenced to develop architectural credentials and accolades for their design of small public buildings and private works. Garner has spent time at RMIT and the University of Melbourne teaching in design, architectural history and contemporary theory, and is a regularly invited contributor to architectural events, including awards juries, publications and journals, seminars and local and interstate lectures.

Professor Rob Adams is Director of the City Design Division at the City of Melbourne. He has guided the urban design strategy for the city since the early 1980s, with his team receiving over 100 state and national awards for design excellence. Major city revitalization projects he has been involved in include Postcode 3000, Swanston Street, QV, Birrarung Marr, Queens bridge Precinct, Turning Basin and Council House 2. Adams has been a visiting lecturer at RMIT and, since June 2004, has been a Professorial Fellow within the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning at Melbourne University.

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