Last week I had the great fortune of attending the Design Futures Council World Design Forum in Copenhagen, Denmark. This summit of international designers focuses on the built environment and it stirred thoughtful discussions of past, contemporary and future of design concepts in building and urban development.
A presentation at the Danish Architecture Centre set the stage for the history of how Copenhagen has become a global standard for urban design and creative development and reuse of space throughout the world. Discussions were enriched by tours of the city’s new developments surrounding the ancient Copenhagen centre, but the most significant inspiration came from a visit to The Tietgen residence hall. This contemporary solution to student housing provides an inspiring solution to what safe, community-based student living could be. An inward-facing circular plan in is made dynamic by terraced cantilevers communicating with each other across the green courtyard. As our student guide describes: “I can look across and see where the fun is!”
The human interaction with designed space was made absolutely clear by a round table discussion in the offices of Jan Gehl. Jan and his team presented their conceptual ideas of how to effectively enhance high-streets and town centres. They do this by using research and analysis to prove benefits to transportation, improved businesses environments, and most importantly, bring the human experience into the discussion of design, planning and development. It is very clear why New York City politicians trusted Gehl's sensibilities to remove the automobiles from an area as significant as Times Square.
I continuously find myself discovering that design is not an end result. It is better described as a living discussion about the best possible solution for humans in their environment. We do not always agree completely about the solution, after all, design is a field that lives in the ‘grey-area’ of subjective analysis, but the Design Futures Council is one of the best summits that I have attended for progressing the design discussion. The result will undoubtedly be to ensure a better future for man’s experience in the designed spaces that we create.