First Friday Film: ‘The Human Scale’

Dec 21, 2013
The 2012 urban-environment documentary “The Human Scale” explores how people’s behavior and needs are reflected in the architecture that surrounds them.

Rockland — The Farnsworth Art Museum and the Strand Theatre will present “The Human Scale” and the First Friday Film Jan. 3 at 8 p.m. at the Strand, 345 Main St. The screening will be followed by a brief discussion. After the screening, Farnsworth Director of Education Roger Dell and architect and community advocate George Terrien will conduct a question and answer period with members of the audience.

“The Human Scale” questions our assumptions about modernity, exploring what happens when we put people into the center of our equations. For 40 years, the Danish architect Jan Gehl has systematically studied human behavior in cities. His starting point was an interest in people more than buildings — in what he called Life Between Buildings. What made that life between buildings exist? When was it destroyed? How could it be brought back?

These questions led to studies of the ways human beings use the streets, how they walk, see, rest, meet, interact, etc. Gehl also uses statistics, but the questions he asks are different. For instance: How many people pass a street throughout a 24-hour period? What percentage of those are pedestrians? How many are driving cars or bikes? How much of the street space are the various groups allowed to use? Is the street performing well for all?

Gehl made his first studies in Italy and later he inspired the planning of Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen. His ideas inspired the creation of walking streets, the building and improvements of bike paths and the reorganization of parks, squares and other public spaces throughout Copenhagen and in many other cities in the Nordic region. Other cities around the world, such as Melbourne, Dhaka, New York, Chongqing and Christchurch, are now also being inspired by Gehl’s work and by the developments in Copenhagen.

Tickets are $8.50, $7.50 for students, senior citizens and Farnsworth members, and may be purchased at the Strand box office prior to the film.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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