URBAN DESIGN International

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 29–47 | Cite as

Close encounters with buildings

  • Jan GehlEmail author
  • Lotte Johansen Kaefer
  • Solvejg Reigstad
Original Article


What we have are closed, self-absorbed buildings. What we would like to have is open, versatile, interesting and safe cities. The challenge is how to incorporate large buildings in cities where people have the same small stature and slow pace they had hundreds of years ago. There is now a considerable confusion in the gap between large and small scales and between ‘quick’ and ‘slow’ architecture. Ground floor facades provide an important link between these scales and between buildings and people. For public space and buildings to be treated as a whole, the ground floor facades must have a special and welcoming design. This good, close encounter architecture is vital for good cities.


ground floors facades public space people interaction 



The studies were conducted by the Centre for Public Space Research/Realdania Research at the Institute for Planning, School of Architecture, Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, with the help of Qiu Canhong, Lucy Carew-Reid, Lars Gemzøe, Alex Hart, Nanako Ishizuka, Michael Varming. Translation by Karen Steenhard. All photographs were taken by the authors.


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan Ltd 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jan Gehl
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lotte Johansen Kaefer
    • 1
  • Solvejg Reigstad
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Public Space Research – Realdania Research, Institute for Planning, School of Architecture, The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Philip de Langes Allé 10Copenhagen KDenmark

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