Re-designing Canberra

A Canberra focused on people… on foot and on bike.

Several members of the Jigsaw team attended an inspirational presentation by legendary Danish architect, Jan Gehl, at the ACT Legislative assembly last night.

Jan is a dynamic, 78 year old, Danish architect and urban design consultant based in Copenhagen, whose career has focused on improving the quality of urban life by re-orienting city design towards the pedestrian and cyclist. His work has played a major role in the transformation of Copenhagen into one of the most dynamic, liveable, people and cyclist friendly cities in the world. In fact, Gehl Architects have helped to promote this development in a number of the world’s metropolises: New York, Moscow, Melbourne… to name just a few!

Jan’s presentation stressed the importance of studying (actually collecting and analysing data about) how the built environment influences the way people move through cities and interact with each other within cities… and measuring the resulting impacts on health, the environment and the economy. One of my favourite bits of data from last night was this: “A person travelling one kilometre by car costs Denmark 17 cents; a person travelling one kilometre by bike makes Denmark 25 cents.”

Luckily for us, there is now a wealth of data available from many cities around the world showing the very positive, and usually very rapid, change that occurs. Canberra could reinvigorate, in fact transform, Civic and its other town centres by adopting many of these well-tested and proven approaches. We left feeling very excited!

Read more about the great work of Gehl Architects here.

PS – I feel we should declare a slight conflict of interest or bias:

  • Tom Henderson, Director and Construction Manager at Jigsaw, is a Canberra boy who did his carpentry apprenticeship in Denmark and found himself a gorgeous wife there. Tom is passionate about helping his home city of Canberra become more like his adopted city of Copenhagen. He recently returned from family holidays in Denmark with his wife and four Aussie-Danish kids.

  • Jigsaw’s architecture team are all passionate about their bikes and great social spaces within cities, as well as within houses.
  • Jenny Edwards, Director and Scientist at Jigsaw, loves any talk of data collection and analysis.