The first Danish language version of this book, published in 1971, was very much a protest against the functionalistic principles for planning cities and residential areas that prevailed during that period. The book carried an appeal to show concern for the people who were to move about between buildings, and it urged an understanding of the subtle, almost indefinable - but definite - qualities, which have always related to the interaction of people in public spaces, and it pointed to the life between buildings as a dimension of architecture that needs to be carefully treated. Now 40 years later, many architectural trends and ideologies have passed by over the years. These intervening years have also shown that the liveliness and liveability of cities and residential areas continues to be a important issue. The intensity in which fine public spaces are used at this point in time, as well as the greatly increased general interest in the quality of cities and their public spaces emphasises this point.
The character of life between buildings changes with changes in any given social context, but the essential principles and quality criteria to be employed when working with life between buildings has proven to be remarkably constant. Though this work over the years has been updated and revised several times, this version bears little resemblance with the very early versions, however there was no reason to change the basic message: Take good care of the life between your buildings.
Jan Gehl is a founding partner of Gehl Architects - Urban Quality Consultants. He is the author of Life Between Buildings and Public Spaces, Public Life. He has received numerous awards for his work and is widely credited with creating and renewing urban spaces in cities around the world, including Copenhagen, Melbourne, New York City, London, and many others. He lives in Copenhagen, Denmark.