The City at Eye Level for Kids


The City at Eye Level

Public space quality is the backbone of a sustainable city. Great streets, places where you intuitively want to stay longer, human scale interaction between buildings and streets, ownership by users, placemaking and good plinths (active ground floors) and a people-centred approach based on the user’s experience – that is what The City at Eye Level is all about.

The book

We help cities develop these places, in collaborative networks throughout the world. In partnership with co-authors in our network, we have collected articles and cases about the street at eye level, with topics such as the history of the plinth, street-level experience as a cyclist, the rise of cities hit hard by the recession, the strength of markets and many international examples of successful and progressive projects. But in both editions of The City at Eye Level, there are only articles written about the experience of adults in the street and in a place, seen from an adult perspective.


Scholarship The City at Eye Level Spring Masterclass

This Spring we will host our third City at Eye Level Training! Are you a student, alumni or a zealous nut and would you like to join, but is the ticket almost all you earn in a month? We have five scholarships available for the masterclass: €200 (ex. VAT and registration fee). Quick check our conditions and apply!


“Take Action #2 – District: Bottom-up meets top-down at eye level”

Jeroen Laven (STIPO), Gert Jan te Velde (Vanschagen architekten) and Paul Elleswijk (Havensteder), write in Take Action #2 about the transformation of ZOHO, the Zomerhofkwartier in Rotterdam. They explain how they’ve used slow urbanism in this former industrial/business area and the use of local key-players like Roodkapje, Hostel de Mafkees and Restaurant Gare du Nord. Since this is a continuance development, follow their Facebook page for more news and recent developments!


“Take Action #1 – Street: The Place Game and the Plinth Game”

Hans Karssenberg, public developer and partner of STIPO, writes in Take Action #1 about several actions people could take for improving the street. He explains the concept of a place- and plinth game. Transforming a street, a district, an inner city, or creating a new district with a great city at eye level takes years and usually involves incremental steps forward. Nevertheless, it’s easy to make a quick start and create the first quick-wins soon. One of the first steps is to involve the community from the beginning: developers, owners, entrepreneurs, citizens, local government experts, new initiators and zealous nuts.

“Understanding the city at eye level starts with what we see and feel. It is, first of all, intuitive. It is also something that must be actively worked on. Plinth strategy is much more than just filling an empty space. It’s about developing a strategy that is based on co-creation, flexibility, creativity, placemaking, and basic urban design principles.”

Click here to read and download this article

p297b 93-6_Stockhol-Center_Dalagatan Stockholm Sweden Stipo The City at Eye Level

Stockholm at Eye Level: Dalagatan in Stockholm Center, Sweden by The City at Eye Level (STIPO)

“To Imagine a Space Can be Different”

An article written by Francisco Pailliè Pérez, Social and Cultural Psychologist in Mexico City. Together with his wife he founded dérive LAB, an organisation whose purpose is to explore, comprehend and inspire other (new) ways of living and thinking of life. Pailliè Pérez defines Placemaking as  a process through which a place is conceived and generated. From a particular space—a street, a parking lot, and old park, a forgotten alley, a vacant lot—and into a place where people want to gather together and encounter others. Placemaking is to make places where people want to be, and share life together.

“The proposal (of the The #GaleríaBallindamm project) is to intervene artistically and culturally, through specific actions and periodic in time. Derive Lab created an open-air gallery, with free access to everyone. The goal of #GaleríaBallindamm is to give vibrancy to the alley; to give it life and “something” to offer to neighbours and other residents of the city. We want to transform the alley into a safe and friendly corridor, with a reason to spend time here.”

Click here to read and download this article

p283b 76-3_After2 Galeria Ballindamm Mexico City Francisco Paillie Perez

AFTER: Galeria Ballindamm in Mexico City Francisco Pailliè Pérez

“Themes, Dimensions & Contributing Lessons”

An article written by Jan van Teeffelen. When he was over viewing the contributions in this book, an interesting set of values came to mind in relation to the different actors in the ‘city at eye level’. He explains that there is planning first: the forward thinking into the future related to the way we build and develop our cities and streets now. Next is ownership: the balance between what is desirable and profitable in the point of view of the investors and entrepreneurs in the short- and the long-term. Another level is smart development: the art of managing the city in cooperation with stakeholders to enhance urban quality (research, experience, and exchange of knowledge as a shared goal). We also have the idea of a ‘sense of place’: an attitude and understanding of the context and dynamics of a street from all types of observers (the city watchers, researchers, insiders). Last is the force of design, shifting from aesthetics (how things look) to the experience of the city (how things work). These aspects are interwoven and should not be discussed separately. Last but not least people are living in the city: they use the city at eye level and give it certain shared meanings over time. Their appreciation is finally the proof of the pudding.

“There is a difference between city development in a spontaneous and organic way, and development along planning schemes and project development. From the point of view of the consumer, the people who use the city at eye level on a frequent basis, city streets should be developed and managed on the level between private interest and public exposure. This approach concerns vacancy management, temporary use, and community involvement.”

Click here to read and download this article


“From Box to Business, a Low Cost Intervention”

An article written by Willem van Laar, a developer specialising in neigbourhoods and districs, and Arin van Zee, consultant at Pluk and at Viatore. They explain that in the 1950s and 1960s many low-rise apartment buildings (‘portiekflats’) were built in the Netherlands: three floors high with small dwellings. Some of these buildings had a plinth with local shops like a supermarket, a bakery, or a hairdresser. Nowadays it is visible that this traditional function of the commercial plinth has vanished. Changing circumstances led to bankruptcy of many small shop owners. Commercial activities dissipated, and new not to the neighbourhood related activities (like phone shops) have taken their place. The plinth is poorly maintained and degradation of the plinth is visible.

“Based on research in the neighbourhood and amongst entrepreneurs the idea came to rebuild the storage and garage boxes into small spaces for entrepreneurs for a low rent. Thus combining the need for local entrepreneurial spaces with a more open and vivid plinth.”

Click here to read and download this article

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Regeneration plinth Amersfoort

New, extended edition released

We are proud to launch the second, extended edition of The City at Eye Level.

The first edition appeared in 2013, was written with a community of 40 contributors and was aimed at the topic of active ground floors (plinths) in Europe and North-America. This second book has 90 contributors, has best practices of ALL continents and offers a broader view on placemaking and the entire street level experience. We have new, previously missing topics, such as the urban soundscape and wayfinding. Just as in the first edition, we draw the integrated conclusions for the approach at the end of the book. This time, we go more deeply into how the insights can be used for concrete action in practice.


Partners and Contributors

We want to thank our new partners: UN Habitat, Future of Places, Project for Public Spaces (PPS.org), Gehl Architects, FAU PUCRS University of Porto Alegre in Brazil and Copenhagenize.

And of course, our 90+ contributors with whom we share our passion for great public spaces in great cities:

Elijah Agevi, Mishkat Ahmed-Raja, Cecilia Andersson, Hans Appelboom, Emiel Arends, Frank van Beek, Frank Belderbos, Rogier van den Berg, Emily Berwin, Willemijn de Boer, Nick Broad, Jose Chong, Alessandra Cianchetta, Mikael Colville-Andersen, Ciaran Cuffe, Richard Dobson, Vivian Doumpa, René Dutrieux, Paul Elleswijk, Gabor Everraert, Jos Gadet, Jan Gehl, Adriaan Geuze, Meredith Glaser, Arjan Gooijer, Peter Groenendaal, Sander van der Ham, Paolo Horn Regal, Samar Héchaimé, Jeniffer Heemann, Mattijs van ’t Hoff, David Jackson, Nel de Jager, Jeroen Jansen, Max Jeleniewski, Lotte Johansen Kaefer, Birgit Jürgenhake, Fred Kent, Hans Karssenberg, Berry Kessels, Joep Klabbers, Martin Knuijt, Lars Korn, Willem van Laar, Tine van Langelaar, Jeroen Laven, Willie Macrae, Kathy Madden, Camilla Meijer, Blaine Merker, Norman Mintz, Eri Mitsostergiou, Thaddeus Muller, Tanja Nagelsmeier, Peter Nieland, Renee Nycolaas, Kris Opbroek, Henk Ovink, Gerard Peet, Francisco Pailliè Pérez, Laura Petrella, Elisabeth Peyroux, Levente Polyák, Stefanie Raab, Tasmi Quazi, Solvejg Reigstad, Anna Robinson, Marlies Rohmer, Ben Ruse, Petra Rutten, Wies Sanders, Ton Schaap, Lai Shouhua, David Sim, Filip Smits, Stefan van der Spek, Alexander Stahle, Birgitte Svarre, Jan van Teeffelen, Marat Troina, Wouter Tooren, Eric van Ulden, Gert Jan te Velde, Mark van de Velde, Klaas Waarheid, Robin von Weiler, Kees Went, Jouke van der Werf, Tony Wijntuin, John Worthington, Xu Yunfei, Arin van Zee and Kim Zweerink.

2014-10-09 12.46.25 CatEL Budapest terras great street


Please share the book as much as you can; that is why we publish it open source. We hope to positively influence as many cities as we can. So post it on your platforms and in your communities.

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