Design Indaba opinion

Your industry

Design Indaba opinion

[Design Indaba 2014] People want cities for people

By: Ilse van den Berg | 26 Feb 2014 08:00
Cities around the world all have one particular thing in common - they are made up of people. The problem is though that most cities have not been built to accommodate people - but to accommodate cars and traffic. (video)
According to the Human Scale film, that was screened at the Castle of Good Hope on 24 February as part of the 2014 Design Indaba FilmFest, 50% of the world's population live in urban areas. It is estimated that by 2050 this figure would have increased to 80%.

The film poses the question: How do we plan cities in a way which takes human behaviour into account?

Human needs for inclusion and intimacy

Since the 1940s, cities have been planned around cars, when in fact in many cities there are more pedestrians than cars. Danish architect and professor Jan Gehl has studied human behaviour in cities for roughly 40 years, starting in Italy. He has noted how modern cities repel human interaction, and reckons that we can build cities in a way which takes human needs for inclusion and intimacy into account. Gehl started measuring how people's lives were affected when streets became pedestrianised and the film illustrates these changes in the featured cities beautifully. Cities like Copenhagen, New York, Melbourne, Dhaka and Chongqing have all been influenced by Gehl's studies and ongoing creation of walkways, building and improvements of bike paths and the reorganisation of parks, squares and other public spaces.

The documentary, directed by Andreas Møl Dalsgaard, is broken up into five chapters and runs for 77 minutes.

This documentary is definitely a must-see whenever you do get the chance. It seems obvious, but perhaps not yet to all cities and city planners: people want cities for people - not cars.

If you did miss out on the first few screenings of the Design Indaba FilmFest, you still have a chance to grab your tickets for the remaining shows which will run until Sunday, 2 March.

For more:

About Ilse van den Berg

Ilse is a content creator and editor, currently travelling around Northern Italy. She is the former editor for Marketing & Media Africa (@Biz_Africa) at and is a contributing writer for the Bizcommunity Lifestyle section. She is a lover of words, travel and all things digital. ; @ilse_vdberg
LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This Message Board accepts no liability of legal consequences that arise from the Message Boards (e.g. defamation, slander, or other such crimes). All posted messages are the sole property of their respective authors. The maintainer does retain the right to remove any message posts for whatever reasons. People that post messages to this forum are not to libel/slander nor in any other way depict a company, entity, individual(s), or service in a false light; should they do so, the legal consequences are theirs alone. will disclose authors' IP addresses to authorities if compelled to do so by a court of law.