An article in our book written by Jan Gehl, Lotte Johansen Kaefer and Solving Reigstad, architects and urban design consultants at Gehl Architects. This article has first been published in URBAN DESIGN International (2006) and was summarized with permission of Jan Gehl.
Historically, town emerged as a result of the exchange between travellers and vendors, selling their wares from booths. Booths became buildings and the pathways became streets. Many urban functions moved indoors. Urban buildings have become bigger and correspondingly introspective and self-sufficient. What we want from the ground floor of urban buildings is different from what we want from the other storeys. The ground floor is where building and town meet, where we urbanites have our close encounters with buildings, where we can touch and be touched by them.
“If the ground floors are interesting and varied, the urban environment is inviting and enriching. If the ground floors are closed or lack detail, the urban experience is correspondingly flat and impersonal.”