Human scale in Providence

Architecture Here and There

Waterplace at dusk on a WaterFire night, in the year 2000. (Photo by Richard Benjamin, RichardBenjamin.com) Waterplace at dusk on a WaterFire night, in the year 2000. (Photo by Richard Benjamin)

Tonight I saw the documentary The Human Scale, about the work of Jan Gehl, a Dane who has sought, as I put it in last night’s post, to undo some of the damage done by modernism to the space between buildings in cities. It was an extraordinarily depressing film, in part because it seemed to wallow in the overwhelming scale of the lack of human scale inflicted upon the world, especially Asia, by modernism. It would be hard to make anything human of the space between the buildings with which modernism has carpet-bombed China and Japan.

The film opened with shots of what looked like really depressed people occupying tedious offices in those bleak buildings. They turned out to be the film’s own talking heads, including Jan Gehl, all of whom generally had good suggestions…

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