JANE JACOBS (4 May 1916 – 25 April 2006) Born in Pennsylvania, USA
JJ has advocated for the value of community life within cities, being an eager leader towards saving American cities, namely NYC, from having the social life of the street disrupted by traffic infrastructure. She is the mother of ‘walkability’, a term used to describe the act of walking in the city and all its related interaction possibilities. Her book ‘Death and Life of Great American Cities’ (1961) provides an overview of her battles and principles for nurturing valuable social opportunities.
JAN GEHL (17 September 1936) Born in Copenhagen, Denmark
Gehl says he was led by his wife, who is a psychologist, to adopt a people first approach in his design process. He became an expert in public space by extensively travelling around the world while observing and documenting how people behaved according to certain place characteristics in public space. His book ‘Cities for People’ (2010) documents these findings and serves as a great guidance for those willing to make cities more liveable and healthy places to live in.
SASKIA SASSEN (5 January 1949) Born in The Hague, Netherlands
Saskia’s vision on how the city is ‘patchworked’ by different layers, which are made of diverse people, contexts and places, greatly inspires Empathy Walks to celebrate and nurture the much valuable multiculturalism within urban environments. Her article ‘Cityness in the Urban Age’ (2006*) provides a great overview on how these different layers dialogue to make the city a creative place.
These three characters are clearly our main inspirations. We are very grateful for their contribution. Thank you dearly Jane Jacobs, Jan Gehl and Saskia Sassen! Your work is being taken forwards by Empathy Walks.