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2016 · 10 · 10

Celebrating Danish Urban Designer Jan Gehl

On October 29-30 Danish Cultural Center is celebrating the life and work of the Danish architect and urban designer Jan Gehl, who turned 80 years in September.


Urban designer Jan Gehl is one of the strongest voices for cities for people. For more than 50 years, Gehl’s focus has been the improvement of the quality of urban life by re-orienting city design towards the pedestrian and cyclist.



Gehl divides the activities that we undertake in public life into necessary, optional and social activities.

The necessary activities being the domestic tasks that we must undertake in everyday life, optional activities are what we choose to do, if the conditions are favorable, and social activities are activities that develop as a result of people undertaking necessary and optional activities being in the same place.

These three activities occur in a ‘ finely interwoven pattern, and intertwine in all conceivable combinations and allow for contact and encounters at many different levels ’. In the way you enter a theatre with the expectation of experiencing a dramatic performance, good urban space adds to the vitality and interest of a street and provides constant distractions, that in turn creates other forms of activities or interactions.


Through his research, his publications and his work, Jan Gehl has helped hundreds of cities all over the world to become more humane and accessible. Beyond urban matters, Jan Gehl is a marvelous human being to everybody, and with a great sense of humor. It is evident that his work on livable cities stems from the way he lives and enjoys life: above all, he wants to make cities that are more socially sustainable and more livable places to live in.


Jan Gehl is a close friend of the Danish Cultural Center in Beijing. Therefore, we are proud and pleased to announce, that he has agreed to be present, when we celebrate his birthday and his life achievements in a large-scale event on October 29 and 30.


During those two days, Gehl is going to give lectures and sign his Chinese books. Obviously, these include the legendary Life Between Buildings but more importantly, we will also host the official launch of the Chinese version of Cities for People published by China Construction and Architectural Press. Please book October 29 and 30 in your calendar now.