Walkability is a term which was predominantly popularized by Danish urban planner Jan Gehl in his numerous books about importance of enhancing cities’ social factor in built environment and its implementation. One of the crucial fields of this approach is maintaining the walkable, compact urban space. In 2009 Gehl’s office together with Copenhagen city council created a strategy for next 6 years, called Metropolis for people, with a goal to become the best city for people in the world. Main part of this concept was to establish a compact city structure with a wide range of well-designed public spaces that would be efficiently and comfortably connected between each other. The idea behind was to invite people to spend time outside as much, as this improves the social inclusion, general safety of the city and enhances the local economy.
A walkable space should be characterized by components like:
- Coherence: understandable and clearly designed vehicle and pedestrian infrastructure
- Continuity: recognizable patterns and elements of design that create space as a whole
- Equilibrium: balanced relation between different transportation means and walkable areas
- Safety: none of means of transport overwhelm, threaten or exclude the pedestrians from using the space
- Comfort: the choice of comfortable paving, materials and urban furniture which suit also the needs of disabled people
- Accessibility: space is open for everyone and contains elements which help to move disabled users within the space
- Efficiency: simplistic and cost-efficient design
- Attractiveness: quality not quantity oriented design approach, well-maintained, clean space
(cf. Nady, n.d.)
Since year 2009 Copenhagen has invested in many new bridges, redesigned various alleys and integrated paved space with surroundings newly built housing and working estates. Even if the scale of most projects was big and many of them were highly complicated, the result was not overwhelming and therefore the goal of combining all urban assets together using pedestrian-friendly mobility components as a binding factor, ended with a great success. Every corner of the city is accessible by a bicycle or on feet, as the distances between each public space are kept compact and comfortable for on-feet communication. With this approach a friendly and cosy atmosphere a Denmark’s capital remained unchanged but the space became more habitants friendly and even more approachable.