What should we do if they want to be happy? Interview with Studio Jan Gehl
Thank. You for joining our short, series of conversations titled. What, do we do if they want to be happy and I'll. Start by introducing the team behind the production of the exhibition and publication, my, name is Irene Qin I'm a curatorial, coordinator, here at the CCA. My. Name is Jacqueline, Mayer I am a curatorial researcher, at the CCA and, my name is Claire LaBelle and I'm an editor at, the CCA. So. We're so glad to have you all with us can we do a, York. Can, you introduce yourselves, and the office, that you're joining. Us from and, maybe, how long you've been with Gail architects. My, name is Blaine Blaine, Mercker I'm, here. In the San Francisco office have been with Gail since 2014. And what's. Your role in the office we're curious I'm a partner and managing director here in San Francisco. Hi. I'm Anna music I'm, an associate, here at Gail and I've been here since we started the office in San Francisco, in, 2014. Yeah. Hi my name is Mohammad Reese I'm a director, and team lead for this office in San Francisco, and I be with Kel since. 2014, also from the very start. Director. Until I've. Killed, for 17. Or 18 years. Right. Now. Great. Thank you we're so glad to be able to connect with you all today and, expand. On some of the topics we explored, through the, project, so our. Happy life was, research. In the form of an exhibition, using. A narrative method we focused on the past decade, exploring. Politics, policy, data, collection, and individual. Stories, to. Dislike to, dissect, how in both direct, and indirect ways the, so-called happiness, agenda. And influence. The built environment. And the exhibition. Was really a tool for us to work through some questions and produce new ones including. How do we design our cities in an age when our feelings are constantly, tracked and emotions become the basis of a new mode of production, how. Do we conceive space in a moment in which language, we use to evaluate place, has less to do with architectural. Topologies. Or, physical. Proportions but. Rather with. Moods and effects. And, what. Ways is design, practice, shaped by the proliferation. Of happiness, reports, and well-being indices, indices. So. While there was a curatorial, point to not directly. Engage. Architects. And designers in, our narrative this, series, of conversations, is. Conceived, as a second. Phase. And a compliment to the show we've. Spoken, to, rainier. De Graaff brutor. Dirk summers and we're really glad to have Gehl architects, everyone. Here with, us today. If. This, show was about observing, side effects of a new ideology, of, happiness, we, would like to pour, some questions to you to talk about how, you. Feel in practice, you may or may not confront. This new rhetoric. Okay. So I'm, gonna start, with the questions, roughly. In the same order that we sent, them to you and. So let's start with happiness. Versus. Livability. Or well-being as. A term, or an objective. When. Talking about urbanism. In the city I, guess. It's, a question of obviously, I please Copenhagen. Which. Is considered to be one of the most livable cities in the world at. The same time the day's are supposed to be the happiest or one of the obvious nations, in the world is.
Entering Like what's. The connection there I mean, like that clip surprisingly. Because I guess in a world you never. Imagined so these company, means to being a bit miserable like. This cannot see whether the. Highest. Times is in the world so. You know I think there's kind of a very, interesting quiz. Like my. Why. Are these things and why this company is the Nordics general so happy, I think. This strong connection with a group everything like that actually. I thought is the kind of stuff I guess you know do what you ask your grandma, what, things you love me and, it's generally let them know. The best things in life are greedy for pulling, your heart other. Things would you allow you to live a very everyday, life I'm, sorry, I guess I forget difference like that this may be enough leader discussion, I guess. There's no so much green it's, company in it's. Very much if I like, reality, I'm taking the allergy and it is I guess. She wants a pragmatic, things, which may be subtle. Right in your fight, day. They're. Getting. Around town getting. On the bus. Announcer. It's not really really well under. Somewhere over fact we've. Got thirty five speed to beat ourselves but. I think the bigger society was interesting, I guess. Or, the kind. Of they don't get a big sense to me but, I get to, bring my colleagues, who. Kind of are Richards, I think especially my, colleagues it wasn't, in your, references. Will be a really bridges contrary, because it said train collision because, it's Danish the, image message, the gospel. We. Were there speak my callings what they sing about how. Did he take them the. Joy of the everyday the heart of every life that. Consents. To one of the concerns we. Do from America, which, is impose. Different things this, company, together is. So. Maybe Yulia should be. The first to respond to this. Way. From the question, and you post but I mean I would say in New York right which York City itself has more people than the, whole country, of Denmark so, when. We know, I think. When. We look to Copenhagen. As. A best practice. It's really important. For us to figure out what, what, from, their approach, to. City. Making and to really understanding. How people behave. Can. We take to other cities anymore, or there others in North. America, and not. Ever. Try to suggest. That, we are trying to create code Haven, in, another city because there. Isn't an apples-to-apples. Comparison. And there shouldn't be but. What we really, learned, from this, focus, on livability. And Happiness. Is that. To, you know to get there you have to understand, and, really focus, on measuring. What you care about as we say it down and for, us that's people unless understanding. Where people, are they, do how. They move how they would like to and and. Using. That to really drive state. Making decisions, around designing, policy, I. Think. I'm something, I would like to add to the conversation about, the, terminology and you have these three terms happiness, livability. Or, well-being and, this. I think there are two questions one how do I feel about those terms and then how do I think, the general public reacts, to them and I think there's something categorically. Different between, the term happiness than. Livability. Or well-being and insa, we are used it in this a tradition, to understand the role of institutions, and government, and the state of caring. For well-being. Livability. In those are aspects, typically. Associated, with infrastructure. We school with the provisions, that you expect on the state happiness. Has had has. Much more to do with the personal, psychological. Internal. Components. And while. I like it I do like the use of the term happiness because it gets us closer, to, the goal that we're trying to aim our. Actual, storage I think. There's some, segments, of the general public that we are with. A little bit of distrust, to the use of a word that is so intimate, and so personal, and to see a government, agenda, trying. To influence something that is so close to to. Your private. Rearm. It can cause a little bit of of distrust, or or concern, because I dunno you you worry about your, part happiness. That's what I do with. My family so so I think they're the Anto. People get used to sing. Institutions. Using that terminology we, have to be careful.
With How it's perceived by, the public I. Think. It's interesting a question, that you posed David, around happiness, and how it transposes, from you, know being applied. So well in the Denmark context. To the United States because happiness is such an American, idea it's. So personal. We here, we are on the west coast we just want to be happy inside, our own experience. And I think something that we misinterpret. In, the United States too often is that happiness. For, me doesn't. Necessarily, mean happiness, for my community and that's, they. Have a relationship to each other and something that Denmark, has really figured out is how to create a sense of happiness for the individual, that also is the best for society. Relationship. To governments, and governance which. Really comes down to trust, that's. Why are the midis who are the most. Like this research there's. No trend but it's really really crazy. There's. Also like. It's, religion, or something deeply turning, against these grace is much more. Religious. Many. More and. Good but, I think the connections, between happiness. And work it. Also actually very. Much in the north with Europe and, that you find happiness - what de corazon, our, idea, cartina suggesting what happiness means it's, not my joy, learning. They did of the beach in California is actually more about doing, the right thing kind, of like looking, at things like life. Mostly. These many, different. Yeah. No. No I, think you picked up what I was going to say which I think that the Nordic what I experienced, is the North American in the in the Nordic countries and, seeing it is this, difference. Between the sort of bright shiny object, of you. Know happiness, as being this kind of peak, experience. And the baseline. Of, belonging. And. Fitting. In and all. The different parts of society and, different stages, of life and the banal and the extraordinary, sort, of working together in, in. In a way in the Nordic context. That's I think I think we do have something to learn from and. You, know we've, so favored, this. Kind of peak notion, of happiness here, over, the everyday. Which there's actually quite a bit more of there's quite a bit more of the everyday stuff which may, not kind of be this like you, know. Endorphin. Rush but, there's, something deeply, satisfying. About being, able to do everyday things well, and feel like you have a place to be yourself so, to, me that's kind of it I think that's kind of a flavor that we're missing maybe, in North America that we could we can add to the to, the dish yeah. So speaking of. You. Know multiple definitions or, interpretations, of happiness, in, the exhibition, and in the book. We. Identify. Our sort of construct. The. Happiness, agenda. And. I'm wondering if that something. That you. Recognize, or. Have had any interaction. With as. A practice. Well. We, I say I'll say from sort of in in the market, of of work that we do we certainly see it out, there as a. As. A language is something that's. Become. A commercial, commercial. Practice actually in analyzing. Happiness, and and. Kind. Of using. That using, that language to, tool. And the goals of. Cities. III, think, you. Know like in in reading some of the background materials you sent there's there's certainly. This. Merit of this sort of competitive, meritocracy. That's developing, between cities where, they're competing on a pretty you know they're competing on indices, they're competing on a flattening. Of pretty. Complex, human. Experiences. And, and. And, the the complexity, of how society, is arranged, kind, of boiled down to one number which, is in itself is problematic and, so I think we would say that's. That's interesting, you know you might want to look at several indices, our particular. Approach as Julia mentioned is to really look at human behavior so, it's. It's important, to listen to what people say but also to really watch what they do and to say is this. Place, you. This part of the city is it inviting for, all the people that we expect, to see you know I mean if everyone, here is saying they're happy that's great let's actually look at who's here and see if that represents.
Everyone. That's. Why I think it's. A. Little bit different. What's. Actually going on what, are. These things. Are. Other. Kids playing, there's. Actually. Real, empirical. Evidence what, people have to do. Is. Very surprised because they don't know, how. Much did use of. Places so. I think part. What we used to quote in actually move and see what part and. I guess. The. Secret are you. Just. Come from Copenhagen. Honey. The owners I think it's developed much further it. Is the. Epiphysis you. Know measuring, watching. Observing I think it felt, like more tools you guys, don't don't get them we have a combination. You. Use those tool to the you, are okay. Properly. Olivia. A cousin, of happiness I think. You're. Right David we're constantly trying to, evolve. And grow the methodology. To better be able to capture data, on these things we care about but are very soft and hard to measure, and. I think these happiness, indices, are, are, welcomed, and that they reframe, the, debate about, what success actually looks like in a city and help, say. We or say okay we have to look at more than these are key TP and that, financial return on investment, we have to look at these values. We care about happiness, being one of them I think. You. Know what's, challenging. About, these, and then problematic, explained was saying is it's when they. Start to get. Very new firm that, homogenous. And I think. For us, something. We're always wondering it's, you know okay if you reframe, it you still have to understand, why are you measuring, this, way what are you using, and. If, you're changing. The questions, to be about happiness but you're still using the data to just increase property values, and have. Financial, impacts. Then maybe it's actually. So different, than an economic, index, but, if you bring, to understand, it. Was talking about where, people spend time where, they interact socially. Where they feel good feel. Sense of belonging or inclusion, and you're using that data it's actually inform, design, changes. While see changes, in. Place, then. I, think they can be very valuable but, as. Equipping. And then you share opposed to pointed out that's, not necessarily. How. They're you. I. Think. Added to what you, just said Julie I think there's something about, the, arrival of these indices that is. Closely. Related to, one, of the elements. Of our agenda, where we try to advance and it's a shifting on Indyk, well a we, believe that indicators, are really valuable and very helpful to have and we, are they. Politically. Driven, to, help shift the nature of the indicator to. From, the infrastructure, to the effect of the infrastructure, on the individual, so rather than. A, traditional, indicator, may look at the amount the number of square meters of public, space by. Resident. Who are more interested in in the effect of that public space in people so we may want to know. How. Much those public spaces are being used and we believe that indicators. Are closer, to. The behavior, and, that are closer to the human effect, of infrastructure, are more helpful than indicators. That are describing, the. Physical, elements, that are enabling. The activities. When. One of the thought as you were talking that it came up is this, idea of cities competing, with each other is this thing that as as we become, increasing like more and more urban that. We're, seeing kind of cities, competing, for talent cities, competing, for prestige, for economic, vitality I think. There's something about that that can be really great because it drives cities to be better there's something also problematic. Because it, displaces. Us it's, this idea that people will move to whatever is just the has the highest Happiness index and, I. Think that. May be at odds with having, a very. Placed. And, rooted. Life, that is in in place and and, is actually about sort of deepening. And making better the place that you are and, I'm. Not really sure what if that's, a problem but it's a it's interesting, to me that this these kind of indices, are coming, up and almost, sort of like driving, people, to just vote.
With Their feet and I I don't know if that's aligned with with happiness actually I don't know if that's something that's gonna make us happier. A philosophical. Question, it's, a competition of who thing I guess. More we see more a culture. Of cooperation, rather. Than competition, and. I think we're seeing the recency patterns, emerging. Region. Started corporate for, its. Kind of like maybe a reinterpretation, of, historical, city state where. We like Copenhagen which, is a small. City by various, others. Collaborating. With other cities across the border in Sweden. Remembers. Jim I'm. Sorry. But I plead to corporation. You, get started though with. Each other. I. Think. This point is is crucially, important like if we're hitting. Cities, against, one another especially if they're cities in the same region, in the same economic, region like here in the Bay Area with. Lots of cities and we all compete, each other I mean it's a race to the bottom it's a race to the bottom for tax cuts it's a race to the bottom for all sorts of all, sorts of things instead, of actually, trying to uplift the region as a whole and, I think that's something that's really missing from a city indicator, you know we had I think it's like the two thousands. Like Edie Glaser triumphs, of the city we're all thrilled that cities aren't going into bankruptcy but actually now we have sort, of a different problem, where cities are an, incredible. Scarcity. And it's, actually like a market. Failure that we don't create more, of these dense. Livable. Interesting. Vibrant. Places and so when we're just saying oh well here they are and we've got to like compete amongst like this scarce amount of cities why, can't we create more, of that fabric, and think at it at a larger scale so it's not like the city against, the hinterland, and so on. Or. Unlike, jogging who often we see the first places first, urban. Places. That have this gonna walkability. Human. Scale stuff and against they become completely over, develops I mean it would, be like they, shouldn't work or something. Temple. Bar in Dublin Covent Garden London, actually, I. Human. Scale and makes itself. Totally. Overexploited. Become. Impossibly, essentially, a normal. Lesson that. The next generation, of the groups which, are peddling concepts. And scale it makes aren't. Even as you know on. This problem of gentrification was, against the punch on in this conversation, permeate. Is a very. Loaded. Question but. Should, we not, make, legislature. First interpretation. Theory. Area. And the idea that just because you, know really, nice places like Copenhagen that have happened, to have like a socialist, welfare state are really nice that we shouldn't, also desire that for ourselves right, like, you have these arguments here, in the Bay Area all over the United States that nice, parks, nice, places, are, are too nice that we should actually push, them out because they're going to create you, know gentrification all these things like no we all deserve, a good, life we each and every one of us in our own way in a way that's like resonant, with our culture and our place deserve.
An Excellent, quality of life and it's me so. Yes. Well, some something I think building, on what, Anna is saying about this this is sort of everyone to. Have a good life I think. There's something that is happening the conversation, that we are equating indicators, with this, icon healthy competition and, I think there's something about the indicator as a measure of a city quality, to itself, and accountability. Of the government, to its own residents, the, question, is who is defining the metrics, and I think, a metric, can be an incredible, tool for. Achieving that elevation of the quality of life locally. Looking at itself as long, as the indicators. Are reflective. Of the values of, the people who live in that community so. That something about. That. Involvement, in the definition, of what is it that we care about and in the city and and the people responsible for running it being accountable. To to. Improving along the standards, as, they're locally. Defined because I mean if I can just interject it's not exactly the provision, let's say of. Greens. And parks for residents, across. The board that is then that. Which is at fault for pushing others out it's also those who control the real estate market in certain regards that are responsible, for the effect not, allowing. The effect of that to be something that becomes exclusionary. So you, can't restrict. Yourselves. As practitioners, or designers, from wanting. To improve things in. The end when you're not necessarily the one responsible, or able to control the outcome of it either I think, if I can circle but in a way you've I mean, this is really interesting you've effectively kind of answered the, next two if not three questions. Already. Between. Yourselves. But I. Mean, I think to circle back to this question of the indexes. And. Who. Defines the terms of, those indexes. And who, defines, effectively. What you're trying to answer. By. Setting the. Indicators. Themselves I'm. Curious. To know I mean as an office it's clear that you're very self-critical, about, the use of these kind of metrics. And. How they're applied but I'm wondering, if maybe there's maybe, New York would be a good example for this like is there a particular case, let's. Say the Times Square project, or any other project where, you. Really have implemented, this, kind, of process, or let's, say method of observation, rather. Than, questioning. You you mentioned, this idea that you observe what people do rather than you ask them what they do as a, way of maybe being even more objective. About what you're, observing. And how to. Change it so I'm curious, rather, than speaking kind of more broadly whether there's a specific project that you could speak to. It. Was behavior. Used to catalyze major transformation. I think art across our offices we have create examples of how that's work on many different scales, and many more committee, based skills as well but, in New York, you. Know we have a data-driven made it mayor here near, Hooper, and. You have to go there. You know it, if you were to spend any time in an, area in, Times Square. You knew getting. Your gutted it didn't feel good and he, knew, he, needed to get anywhere, folks. Mind sensitive and really. Avoided. It and so while all the your birds Eunice, nobody, had ever collected. Data on what, people were actually doing in. The space who. L in a, study. Along. Broadway from 59, to Union Square of, G, miles and, major. Commercial, streets, across the five boroughs. To. Actually, document behavior. Typical. Days a week, an. Entire day and, found. Things fed. But, really helped to build a political piece for Kane for example, 90%. Of, the activity, and, the movement. Activity, in Times Square was. People walking, but only a tenth and face, was, for people with her being my friend, was for vehicle so there, was a total mismatch and, you, know even though you might. Ever, anecdotes, around I think the numbers there actually. Helped put people. Higher, above the agenda, and. Help. Also inform, whether this a change it's okay in this case it's. Not really rocket science. Let's figure out how to create more space for people, which. Then led to a series, of. Pilot. Projects. That could continue, to be. Used to measure. That's. Been refined and ethically be collected, how, spaces, were being used, it's. Used to evolve based on on, that. Today. Actually a permanent. Permanently. Design Plaza that. Has made this page too much feather but I actually think the, New York story, should. Not be. It. Is, pi, square is still suffering from this. Unsuccessfully. Congested, and no. I, I. Would. Hope that the. Leadership anyone, could continue, to take, this peoples first approach. Studying. How. People are using these major areas. Yeah. Money. And me, the. More. Projects. Which, actually, works well. For more people to the question you know of like no.
Moving, And not making more places. Situation. Where almost right. There, wasn't like a bad place. In. York City awesome program, which I think aims to do hear what you're saying but the resources, being, different. We're. But just. You know it I won't. Get into the details of, this program that's, used to, create smaller, neighborhood, causes, around five boroughs, but it, is something that has been very interested in in a project two years ago with the city conference chair to, actually evaluate. How, those spaces were being used, beyond. You, know impact. On overly. Understand, what kind, of social connections, and so the inclusion they were helping, to foster in. Neighborhoods. Often ones with high. Rates, of immigrant population, and flowing, and those, were, great and I think being. Able to show how, well these various these. Small. Very. Few resources of. Public, impact, so. Many people, I, would, like to think helps to. Julie. One of the metrics that I think is is most compelling out of the plaza program, analysis, is, how. The, these small, cheap, cheaper, plazas, is David David mentioned, what. Their effect was for people who made less money and you. Know it turns out that for people who were making $50,000. A year or less those pauses, actually. Had a measurable, effect in connecting, neighbors to neighbors so, these are like that's a thing that maybe it doesn't get reported on directly as happiness or well-being but, it's something that we can measure and we actually just know because we're people we know the being connected to our neighbors generally. Is a good thing makes us feel better if we see that a public, space is doing that that's a great thing to measure and that, actually. The, incremental, that the sort of marginal value of, investment, for lower-income. Neighborhoods on, a public. Luxury, like that is way, more. Beneficial. Actually, and maybe it's sort of a deeper level. Supporting. Well-being, then, maybe something like Times, Square which frankly is a place, that a lot of people now choose to avoid again because it's, a happiness moment, in the sense of it's an Instagram, moment it's a it's like a get in show that you were there and get out moment which is like not actually, happiness. Really, at a sort, of sustained level yeah, I want to make a point you know thinking, about like how we get places like Times Square and I. Start, to feel like something, that has happened in the urban planning process that this happiness, agenda, has been sort of co-opted, by deliberative. Planning, that sort of discursive, planning like I asked you what you want you see Time Square you say I want that you pointed the photo you're like put your dot on the Time Square image, and you're like that's what you get when actually, you, know when you look at what people truly, like oftentimes. It's, the small little pocket park that is their favorite place, you know there's, place, here in San Francisco the. Developer asked what people wanted they said they want a big lawn because I thought that would be nice, when action that no one uses the lawn everyone. Uses a little strip. Of asphalt where they walk their dogs and they can actually meet their neighbors so I think we know this from like studying, happiness and it's actually human, connection that makes us happy and you, know it's, important to use data, to tell the story about how people actually. Vote with our feet I mean, I think this goes back to what Blaine was talking about about the competitive, City as obviously. It's a market ideal. But. Also the. Sense in which you know these sort of small parks in the five boroughs in New York are not the thing that's going to be reported, on because those are not really positive it's desirable.
Destinations. Anyway, right, they're mostly, with. Any luck that planning is done for, locals. I think, it's like a later question, around the, smart city and you. Know we're all curious about how technology has, a role to play in all of this and obviously we're, measuring all of this, information. About how we move around the city but. I think that. What what weight is talking about around you know the sort of Instagram, efficacious, of our public spaces is very dangerous, you. Know we've seen what. The, commodification. Of, our attention, has done to the digital sphere and, I think we're all, extremely. Supportive, of using data to make objective. Decisions about our built environment but, very worried, of the commodification. Of our attention, in our public, sphere this is a very, special, place, for human beings it's our natural habitat, and then it's. My opinion that it's really important, to keep that, sort of commodification, out, of how we design our public space yeah because I think the danger there is what what, you know Instagram, vacation, does is it gets it back to a to an image and a thing rather, than an experience, and a, behavior, and it's, just it's it's, as simple as that I mean I think measuring. Experience. And behavior is more important than measuring, things and images, so, if you're just if you find yourself measuring things, in images or any, of these these. Indices. Start becoming more about that that's, a that's kind of a warning sign to rethink what we're what we're measuring and so. Experience. Is really tough to quantify it's, super you know it's subjective, and it's it's like particular, and is different in every place but, I. Don't think there's a shortcut to it really, and I mean wit gales particular. Shortcut. Is we watch what people do because. It turns out that if, people are very bad Liars at. You. Know spending. Time in places that they really don't like like they don't they don't do it so we watch, that and that's that's a good way to. Understand. That experience. Everybody. Proposing. Times. Where. From the definition of. Happiness. It is wholesome, partner. Happiness oh won't. Turn there, or is it. Moment, maybe. When you list all those things, I. Want, so badly in New York I it, also makes me think you know what they. All represent is, that people have a lot of choices. From. Which people, choose their unhappiness and. Whatever that means as, Meyer Point Avenue us, is very, very. Realistic. Society, and. So. You, know but that's the space where we can let people have, different, voices in terms of how they move around.
I. Have. A question for you David. So. One, of the critiques of, the sort. Of livability indices, is that may flatten, experience, like there's, sort of the flat and the flatness of experience, I can go to a hip coffee cafe in Berlin it, looks exactly the, same the, same Edison, lights the same white tiles, as I can get in here in San Francisco, and so, this sort of light only go to those places I don't. Feel comfortable other, spots, it's true and some people do right like they sort of. Yeah. Like this sort of like utopia, there's no place how. Do you think this off city is different and and allows for distinction. And differentiation. Really, this equation I was. Like with. What colors of the world together we have experience, with other places but. I'm so barrel, is, that I guess the people really like that thousand times so cool burners are but I'm cool Anika nurse makes. Really almost exactly, the same like us. It's. Kind of curly. It's. Nothing one of the big was. Mean. Things in the plan of the moment is this it's. Not so much the difference between different countries especially within, countries, we have the people like they're the, winners who, choose the urban life. Suburban. Second rural life it. Seemed projects my people, in the suburbs and so cool. Suburbs. Of Melbourne. Security. Development of me some people believe, this is a nice week live your life working, on small apartments, do it differently the cottages buy more expensive partners, you save money in, your everyday University their car the. Most viable source is time because. You're you, can close this proximity stuff, other. These people in slope this review could cause this kind of not very confused, noticed it everywhere it's not just America, I mean, any sweets and the Australians. Any. Calls of, the American from a detached. House the. Big garden clean. Three cars recently. Get discovered, it is like at your craft the. Crops in the system, so, I think from you know that. Continent. That 19. Cities yeah, there's a thing extra places actually, don't. Matter. It is your pledge politics, well. You. See the people voting for certain right way again does up. There is double of likes whether there is sweetness feel. Better UN's. Actually. Pension. Opportunity. Neighbor. The, more likely, right. Wing agenda. Something about being, closer to each other actually.
Makes Us more tolerant. Actually. With. The welders, Hey which i think is important especially in, the Bay Area context. Which is that sometimes we equate happiness. With like this dopamine, rush there's like a momentary. Happiness like, I scroll through Instagram, I am happy, but does, it give me like fácilmente. Actually. These moments of friction, and of surprise. Of, moments when we're, taken, by surprise and we're delighted like, you, know when we think of like I don't like what is love like we love our partners, and like we love our partners in the moments when they surprise. Us in amazing. Ways and they and they bring us happiness not, always. In the ways that they're, we, know them but in the ways that we don't know that I want, to just like challenge. This idea that. We're like, this um that, actually some like, tolerant. Dense. City. Life. Is. Is. Delivering. Happiness more, efficient, I think it delivers half maybe happiness, or well-being with, fewer, social costs, and look, and longer term sustainability, I I, think it's problematic though, that there is another way to deliver happiness that's very individual, focused, and and, made in well-being and, sort of satisfaction, that's very individually, focused has, super, high cost but can be delivered in a totally different way and and, I think it's I think it's it's, it's it's sort of difficult and problematic to say and I don't David I mean I totally, am on page with you about most, of what you said but I think to, say that you. Know people. Are less happy I mean people actually in the country report, some like higher. Happiness is away because urbanites are easy you know we sometimes like, complain, more maybe about things but, you. Know what I mean I think I think there's a cost to that. I also. Would like played what, gives. People good. Light with their neighbors and life the. Quality might become futile to pop, silence, to have that space to, do stuff having space to have a dog I mean a backyard, of. Tribute. To a full life and. So I think. There's. Something for the moment please, you touched on that even ugly words efficiency. I, guess, where. We come in or any context or we have our welfare city don't actually do. Very quickly equate things don't none of them measurable. Of what they cost because. We're delivering health care we're delivering over for the limits of that price to, taxation. Happiness. Individual. What's my dream I was. Much, focus so. I think maybe there's a danger, as well of taking these this, is Nordic perspective, play into don't, like a quantity, but I think you hit, I think. You just hit on the thing which is that there's actually, these qualities. Of sort. Of suburban happiness. Which. Can be that can be delivered and created in the city as well and you, know there things like peace. Like, the thing that people want to live in us in a cul-de-sac because, it is a connection, with their neighbors actually those things have their way. Ways, to be in in the city I think I think part. Of why we're talking and I think they say one component, that is that, makes what David, said true and what you said true but that we're not addressing directly, is what type of urban environment, were type of condition, makes. It easier for you to stay connected and have deep relationships. With. Friends. And family, and to see them regularly and, there, are certain conditions in which the city, and enables, that because you can come. Into contact with people on a regular. Basis but then there's other ways in which living in this. Rural life and you're moving less and and and you have people that, you have the passage, of time and multiple generations that have been rooted in that place and that also gives, you joy I think, this this. Simply series is the element of migration, and when. You migrate and, when you leave. Your house or will you leave that community, if you're at. The moment with a family, member move to a new place which. Of the two places is going to make it easier, to foster, new connections, and I think, something that that we know is that if, you don't know anyone moving. To a denser, more diverse, environment. Where you have proximity. And access, can, make that insertion, and that creation, of no links. Easier. That, move into a place that is a little more homogeneous, the. In terms of mix use and more spread out so, it's something there's a difference between the connections are very high and that, arrival. To a new place and and what. Type. Of architecture what, type of urban, design can can. Ease your, generation. Of new links yeah, also, transportation, like, if you look at moments, when people I think we're talking we're urban designers, and architects and landscape architects, but when, we think about the moments when we have those, connections.
With People that are across, difference, oftentimes, they happen in moments of compression. Whether it's on a compression. On the sidewalk or the compression in a train car and there's, some really interesting studies. That show you know these like regular. Exposure. To people that are different from you often in a transportation, environment. Actually. Come. To, social, exposure. With. Designing, new places it's. Like seeing the quality of the suburbs they, click through front yard which would be smaller than the notion of a front yard or, porch, you know the front door. Kids. Walking to school the penance. For. You've. Both, or this comparison. Between Nordic, context in the United States you've been talking a lot about let's, say the role of government, and what, you expect from institutions. And I'm, curious to know how. This relates to your clients, also because. And, also, what. It is as a design, office that you actually have the power to affect like, this kind of question, of whether. There's Edison lights and white subway tiles and all the cafes surrounding, your public spaces is not actually, something that you can, control. And. So, but I'm wondering if in Nordic, context, you're working, more with institutions. And governments, in American. Context, are you working more with developers. Or private clients, or not in fact is it is there kind of equality across the. Market. Forces. Bridge. We. Were, eventually. Recruited. Former. Partner. Bridge. Builders, between, two worlds. Element. And already condition these things. Understanding. On this is what the states without this door that's a screwed up these are the private sectors with us there's. Make more comfort, but. You. Know things but, again I think interesting food money that, you as colleagues comment. On us, because. I think the thing to see us in a booth as well that. Challenge is completing, this get, up gala constituted, to the u.s. context, but I think presently orders. Yeah. Actually. Things. And. Then one. Component, I'd like to add and I agree, with David to working, in both region supposed to cover him in and private sectors but he's also no limited, to, the. US an, hour working Europe, we also do a fair amount of work in Latin America, and I. Think we we also and. In that context were also both a private sector and for governments and you. Were asked a liberal about the difference in the expectation, of the role of government, in the different regions when we work I would, say there's a constant, question for our work in developing. Countries in particular in Latin America he, said it doesn't matter what we're doing, as long as it's a government, there's a question of our work needs to be helping, advance or bridge.
Equity. Because, the differences, in socioeconomic conditions. Are, so extreme so, I would, say our, public. Sector work in Latin. America, there's always a tree thread. Of I will, doing investments in public space that can help. Advance. An. Equity. Agenda I I, think in other contexts, the agenda may be more could be more linked to economic development, or there there may be other values, but, that is one, that. Is always present in, in. The latter America well I think, your. Question seemed like it's you know what is it, can Gayle possibly, have a hope of changing the underlying, political. Or, economic, conditions, that generate City. Form, and of. Course. Not, I mean that's that's like a much bigger thing. Than. Any one. Organization can really, change I actually. Think that where we make, the most differences, in the story that we tell and it sort of doesn't matter who we're telling the story to in this David Meyer mission, where we're, like developing. That story in the public sector private sector and, and with. Sort of, residents. You know public at large so. The, this the narrative, that we have about what a city is for and what we're trying to create together, is, what. Were what. We're working in and we. We. Hope that then the market and the. Government system will sort of cooperate. And get. Involved. In that story I. Would. Say. Where. We work our. Goal, is, empower. A. Role. In shaping the city to do that we have people first grade and to really drive the, city, making policy. In design change, process, by first. Focusing on, the. Life of place. And who's fair and, what are they doing and, asking. What kind of experiences. That we're really trying to create an, elaborate, form to, follow that. Put. A message those questions, and whatever the public like data shows, rather. Than how, it's so often we practice, the context. Particular. With. Others. And, then this. Expectation, length, should follow so, a matter of the sector, I think that's what we're track do and I wanted, to share the example, of the. Office of life West Palm Beach Florida a, municipality. Where. We've heard. Number. Of years and helps, create, a new position in, the mayor's office of an officer, of Oakland's. Operatives, is to actually work through the ages all of the agencies, that touch on projects, Lee, growling. And it helps which very nurturing and went, by. And, understanding. Place. Have. Defined for. Time. -. Yeah. Just - just to build on what these guys are talking about you know sometimes we we do we do design. Work with you pilot projects, what we often talk about our work as the. Communications. Project with. A physical, component, so even if you're doing a pilot project working. With the community to design something that's physical. You, know so much of the work that goes into it is actually, talking, you know the conversations, that happen and the message, that you're putting out about the life that you want to have so. Picking. Up on this. Idea. Of traveling and, translating. A statement said, the original, concepts, conceived by, Bojana. And Ingrid in Copenhagen, maybe, it's a good moment to talk about the growth. Of the, firm and and how, you've located yourself, in different geographies and how, you bring, the. Nordic. Way of thinking, or adapted. To different clients. And in. Context but, then also how those clients, in different contexts feedback, on. Also. Shifting, and changing maybe, the original premises, sure. I I mean I think it word. We're not necessarily in, the business of bringing the Nordic way of thinking to to, other places it's it's a it, were. We're. Bringing, a human centered way of thinking that just happens, to be very. Common. Or more common in Nordic, countries it's certainly part of the DNA of the of the organization, but, it's changed. As we've, grown, and, and I think the what we you, know each, office, sort of brings its own piece. To, the to the family now and when we started the office in San Francisco, five, years ago our our. Kind, of history together was much, more in kind of tactical.
Urbanism And, piloting, and trying things at, scale. In public, space and that. Has shaped, Octus now something, that we do. Much more of the kind of a measure test refine approach as part, of our as. Part of our practice and. I'll. Let Julie talk about you know New York is different as well so what, were what we're doing is really building, a practice through. Kind, of anchor, cities. That, actually have something to teach. The world each city is different and and so every every city is adding its peak its DNA, to the practice, now and we're, we're now kind of making a. Strategic, effort. To grow in China where. We have done a lot of work in, the last 10 years and we're going to be doing much more going forward we. Have, a history of doing work in. Oceania. Australia New. Zealand and, we're gonna we're, gonna grow that practice. So these, are places that can kind of become pattern, cities within within, our practice and inform, em the, other offices. Yeah. Greenway, with, Lane that it's not about necessarily, exporting. And, Nordic. Product, and and replicating. Around the world I think there's something about the beginning of the practice and that is where why, we can work in so many different geographies. He said our, subject, what we are about is the, human and humans, regardless of, climate, geography and culture have certain, aspects, that are common there's something about our physical. Body our dimension. Our skills our senses, that, is the same if. You are in Patagonia. Than if you are in. Papua. New Guinea or any other part of the world we're trying. To design. And make sure that the city is working for that human body now how. The application, of those, ideas of designing, for people listening for human. Comfort, and to make the, built, environment, comfortable it lands in really different, socio-economic. Cultural. Political, context. And the, ways those. Ideas can become. Can. Enter, reality. And be conceived. Into into projects it does take a lot of of adaptation. And communication. In a way that is sensitive to that, context. So context. Is always something that is complementing, a base that is is human-centered, and and, just drawing on those components, a we that we share I'll, say something that has really changed with, our practice and starting, here in the United States I think this, you know we are a much more diverse, country.
Than Then. Denmark so we've had to adapt, our methods of studying. Public life to consider. Racial. Diversity to, consider the some more of the differences, between people at mean everything that virus said is true we all share the, same basic you, know abilities, and limitations of, a human animal and there. Are things that are in our history especially in the United States that mean that we need to study racial. Difference and other types of differences between us, which. Is really you know we've changed in, this packet in this practice and we've actually grown new methods of measuring. Social. Mixing. Diversity. In public space and that have actually you, know filtered. Out from the rest of the practice so. Yeah. I was going to add to that we're you know one of the. Fundamental. Tools that we use the practice is called. The twelve following. Criteria and. This touches, on the universal. Characteristics. We. All share then we. Need to be comfortable those. Days to. Really be happy in a place we need to feel some sense of delight. To. Point it out what. That looks like in, incredibly. Diverse US context, and Latin, American context, is very different and, I think, you know one. Thing that's been exciting about having the practice. Work more in these more diverse cities. Spend. A lot of time working. With, local communities, to figure out what what does this mean in your own words and in your city and what well. What a successful. New causal. Apply to you or a, streetscape, plan look like to you and actually try, to reframe, the, conversation around, success, in. A. More mobile way, yeah. So, we've. Already touched on this a little bit. But. As. We've been studying happiness, and. Like I said with the the 12 qualities, there's, just like multi-dimensional. Aspect to the. Definition. And measurement, of happiness. Sustainability. And. Environment being one, of them and. We. Looked, at Copenhagen, in the exhibition, we also looked at Tampa, Florida which, is the. First well. Certified. City. Or neighborhood, in. The world and I was just wondering what, the. History of the. Of Gale, office, is. Sort. Of like interactions, are use with. Systems. Like lead and. How. It will interact with. Sort. Of certification, systems, like well I, think. More. Than the office is made of people, and, those people are bringing a range of different backgrounds, and experiences so a lot of our team has a background. In sustainability, and experience, with those. Rating. Systems that are more based on the. Impact. Of the built environment, on, energy. Water waste management. So I think that that background lies, within, the office our. Focus, as, a practice, is to complement, this. Set. Of measures which are very well. Addressed. By a number of other order groups and engineering, firms.
Where We want to make sure he said we are not losing the human, in in. Development. And they were not losing that that focus, on people, so, it is part, of what, we know and what is part, of what makes a good project is we have to look at all these components together but, our main. Priority, is addressing, that human dimension. And. One of the challenges, with with those systems. Is. That there you can you, know rate a building, highly with leave but it can be wrote in the middle of nowhere you have to drive you know two hours to get there and oftentimes. Our, challenge. We take is our challenge to, sort of bring new actors, together to have conversations. About the life that we live in our city and. So that means you know going from like building, to building and all the different agencies in between forestry. Water Department, of Public Works Public Health and. All the different people that make our public, realm run. So. That we're not sort of siloing, you know an agency. Or a way, of working with, a certain type of you know rating. System, sort. Of limiting yeah. I, think one, one risk, we run with, any. Certification. System, is it. Could, become a checklist and, a checkbox that you, you, mark and then think, you're done and I think another, element. Of the, way we order can try to instill, and, with our partners is that you. Really can never be done and if you really have to make sure people, are happy and, you're, facilitating, great. Experiences. In a place we. Have to constantly, be looking at, how things are changing and, how designs, need to be involving, and, flexible. To changing, demographics. Changing. Climate. A whole range of things, so. You know I think well, system, is running. For retraining the conversation, that's saying you have to look more holistically, at places, but I think. A challenge especially with funding, environment climate we have. Long. Term. Yes. So similarly. We. Have found. The. Sort of like happiness, movement. Has been, super. Intertwined, with. The. Sort of movement for smart, cities and, I'm wondering. How. Gail, which, has this, history. Of. Measurement. Is. Sort. Of using. New.
Kinds Of technologies, and. To. What degree or why not. Yeah. I think that. The. Smart, city, movement. Is, something. That we're kind, of often, at. The edge of because. Of the data thing and so. There's kind of an expectation that. Human. Centered. Data is going to be just one more layer, in the GIS map that's gonna allow for. Rational. Central, control in. This like outcome. That's gonna be great for everybody and I. Think. There's different there's probably gonna be different perspectives, at this at Gale but my. Mind is that that's really that's a flawed, modernist. Kind, of technocratic. Ideal. That is it's. A it's a it's a 20th century ideal. That, sort of moved. Snuck into the 21st century because now we have lots of sensors so. We. Should just kind of be pretty careful about thinking that anything. Can be centrally, managed. Super. Rationally, and just try. And keep it maybe a little bit simpler and a little bit. Dumber. That you know as human beings we know what makes us happy and let's let's, align our values and, like open our eyes measure, what we need to but actually like measuring more is not going to necessarily get, us there like being really clear on what we're, trying to achieve at. A human level is going to be much more useful than just having kind of more data so. Like. I would rather have somebody you. Know a city, employee, standing. On a street, corner watching. Really. Carefully, watching, what's going on with, with, them with the moms and the grandparents, with their with their strollers, and and watching. People how, they cross the street and seeing like where, where folks are sleeping, on the sidewalk, then, I would like to have any of that information in a computer somewhere. And, on a map. I. Think. Well and. There's, something about the type of data that we collect that is really important it gets into, what Blaine is saying is that the there's, certain aspects of the, data that we gather that are really difficult for a machine, to, automate. So when we're looking and analyzing how. People use public space is not only how many people which is something easier, to get. With a sensor we're also looking at what what, are they doing who are they in terms of demographics. I said that I think a, softer, layer of, what, is the nature of that activity, that we think is, you. Get much richer. Information, when you gather with a human that, being said and with all the caveats I know the apprehension, that we have moving, towards are completely, automated we do complement, where. In personal data collections, we're looking more and more into. Obtaining. What is simple to quantify in. A through. The use of set of sensors so that we can have bigger sample sizes and understand, certain. Patterns with a greater, level of, statistical. Accuracy than what we can do with an impersonal, count so we incorporate. Cautiously. Without. Replacing. The, richness of, in-person. Qualitative. Information I. Mean. Surely that would also only enrich the study insofar as like establishing a comparison. Between what you observe. Which. Is full of your own subjectivities, also. With. Kind, of more anonymous. Let's say data sets that might, represent. Might. Represent something other than what you see, and you're also then forced to find a conclusion, within that I would imagine. That's. Not a question that's just an observation, no. It's true we're, always with all this smart cities stuff you know autonomous, vehicles, data. Collection, like we think that we talk about it like it's this new precipice, of human abilities, when actually, mostly. What we're doing is replicating, the mistakes of the past what. Are we doing with autonomous, vehicles for the most part we're, replicating this, Auto centric, idea of the purpose of our public realm what, are we doing with big data we're. We, have like, selection, bias and we're just counting the people who have cell phones and we you know count the people who have cell phones and where they go and you, know it's not oftentimes, giving us new information about the stuff that really matters, and. So always, we're trying to like shift the focus back to that yeah, that's said we're not Luddites I mean we're, always trying to get, get, get the data you know we're trying to get get the data wherever we can and to, make it easier so I think there's kind of you know there's there's a balance between. Just. Keeping it simple and, human and. Saying. The thing that everyone can see and having. The stack of numbers to prove it and, really. The first thing is kind of what matters the most politically, but you do, need to be able to to, prove it to and to look for patterns that you might not see so it's. About like, data like this isn't this is definitely, an art not a science right, like data, is as much like, a brushstroke. As it is like a piece of piece of information like it's part of our like.
The Tools in our toolbox of you, know convincing, people to do the right thing according with their values. Yeah. But we're, fighting I mean we're, also fighting, against, we're fighting a battle of. Data. Firepower. Where. The less, let's say the the side that has been sort of focused on measuring things not people has, had way more. Way. More firepower, for many many, years. So, you, sort of have to fight data with data right I mean you have to get like information. About, the. Softer things in order, to just counterbalance. This enormous weight, of data that there is about stuff that, is about, like car movement or you. Know energy. Efficiency. Or all the other things that are like easier, to measure, so. It's it's a it's a more, of a political question about, like how, you value different, sources of data -, well. And it's about the ability to attach, outcomes. To. Numbers as well when you're trying to talk. To clients or talk to cities the ability to say this. Number of thing can save you this much money and it's difficult to hypothesize. That without. Yeah. Without. Kind of numbers to be able to make an argument in, many cases, at least that's what often, times I think what people are looking for let's say which is where the push, the. Push as you're saying about this kind of enormous weight of data, I think that push comes from the expectations. Of a lot of people of what's going to come from, the, investment, in a project let's say but, we, are also very critical of this technocratic. Way of approaching, the, the, question. Of, happiness. But then on the other end we have this very loose. Subjective. Way of projecting an, idealized, image, in a very commercial way as, the. Like. Called like lifestyle magazines, might do in, in. Circulating. These lists, of. Happiest. Cities so, in. Between the. Way. Of communicating, with hard, numbers and, and. Killing, people with data and then. These. Kind. Of soft naive. Images, that are. Projected. From and. In, the way that cities are branded, today let's say. How. How, do you how. Do. You reconcile, those as designers like what. How. What language do you then, use. To. To balance between, those. We. Don't think is for for, us it's important, to, how. People get a change of mindset, and a change of heart and numbers. Alone and the statistics, don't change hearts so we usually we. Lean, towards, the. Numbers are a compliment, and and. They help a story, that has to be in in terms of what is a change and we each way important for us to speak in terms of what the everyday, person. Or, a. General, audience something, that they can relate to their own life and their own experience, so yes. There is a component of. Evidence. That supports. And makes a message stronger but we it's. Our communication. We we. Strive to make it accessible to make it compelling and to, drive, change with, with. That and that requires a softer, touch that is not it's, not only facts. Yeah, and, I think that that framing that storytelling is part of the or the value that we add. For. Example no. Sometimes. Data, tells, you things, like you have very low bus. Ridership in your city so maybe you shouldn't scratch your bus service which. You know, there, could be a lot of problems, especially around, equity, in access and doing something like that. But. If you actually embed, us director. And, transit, agency director, out riding, us and, experiencing. How probably. Undignified it, is most North American, context, for. The walk. You to the stop is like waiting for the buses like actually, being all of us you. Can change the narrative and the story and. Also. Hope it's, white and that it might be as it is so.
I Think for, us it's, really important, you know it sounds, pretty straightforward to, actually get city, leaders out into. The spaces that they manage and have. Them understand, from the high-level. Perspective of, the. Users of whatever system, it is what the experience, is like and that can, be more. Powerful than theta. Yeah. And his gifts to I think what what I was ranting. About in terms, of the smart city you know Central Command you. Know image. That that, the. Idea that you're sort of monitoring. At a distance, or managing, at a distance is, problematic. So to. Me this sort of a it's a pretty simple principle, like the things that bring you closer to the experience, or the right things so. Anything that's about getting out into the space experiencing. The bus with somebody watching. With your own eyes feeling. With your own skin. Empathizing. With your own heart like all those things are the right things to get towards and the data that gets you closer to those things that's the right data to collect in general, so, I. Think. It's a it's a combination I mean that's, our our job at Gale is to sort of weave this this. Cloth of the, story the narrative like, the intuition, with the. Facts, and the data that that support, it but. We, can't ever get sort of too far away from the, immediate. Experience and. It's. It's, it's tricky because, there's. There's sort of a lot, of there's. A lot of data out there to sift through, going. Back to this question of like language and David brought up you know livability. Happiness. Well-being I, think, there's a limitation, that we're having this conversation in, English. Actually. There's some languages, that that, have, words. For, different. Types of, satisfaction. And meaning and there's one that. I've come up against. In Danish. Which. I will try to pronounce now, which. Is something. Like haggis, Medina and, I'm, definitely saying that wrong and so I encountered. This this. Word when we were translating. Some of these twelve quality criteria that, Julia was talking about earlier in. English, they are. Comfort. First, enjoyment. Second. And, something. Like something. Like a delight at the end but it's actually not delight, its haggis Medina which. Is the. Word which is about like a deep, sense of, meaning. And fulfillment. It's it's, sometimes described as the, value of a thing when the value, of money has been removed and, it's. Something that you experience, in in Denmark the sort of experience. Of access, of neighborliness, of like incredible. Sun, when it's cold outside. And I think there's more work to be done around just. Describing, what we mean and actually, by. Having better words maybe we can design better. Cities. Yeah. I mean it's like I'm sure in some part. Of your exhibition you know like the the term. And I was totally gonna try not to say this but like like r8 a you know like the Greek term, for purpose. You, know kind of comes in and that I mean to Greeks that was that was what was important, to sort of measure right was like the the, purpose, of a person, or a thing that you know the, the r8a of a glass is to hold water the purpose of a person is to maybe, you know raise, and, nurture, other people, and and to be you, know in community, in in relationships, like we we can define