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Danish urbanist Gehl to cultivate motorway in Prague centre

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Prague, Oct 19 (CTK) – One of the most difficult tasks of Danish urbanist and expert in public space Jan Gehl during his professional career will be to cultivate and calm down the north-south backbone road in Prague, Gehl told reporters about his upcoming project in the Czech capital on Tuesday.

Prague will sign a contract with Gehl on consultancy worth up to two million crowns.

Gehl, 80, whose main idea is to return cities to people, has given advice to cities all over the world. Copenhagen, London, Moscow, New York, Oslo and Vienna have used his services to improve their public areas.

In Prague, he is to solve problems with the busy north-south motorway, running through the centre.

Gehl said his team must first get acquainted with the respective documentation and then it would explore the area.

He said he believed that his ideas would be implemented in Prague like in over 200 other cities where he had worked in the past 20 years. After all, he is dubbed “a Danish icebreaker,” he added.

Prague Mayor Adriana Krnacova (ANO) said a few studies had been worked out, but the proposed adjustments to the backbone road had never been implemented. Gehl is to change it, she added.

“We expect him to be able to translate ideas into reality,” said architect Pavla Melkova, from Prague’s Institute of Planning and Development.

“Each management of the City Hall tried to tackle the problems of the backbone road. However, a consensus must be found. Cooperation with Gehl might lead to it,” deputy Prague Mayor Petra Kolinska said.

Gehl won fame as a young architect in the early 1960s when he closed the Stroget 1.1-km-long Danish street to cars. It became the world’s longest pedestrian zone.

Gehl has formulated the principles of his approach to municipal areas in various books, some of which have been translated into Czech, such as Cities for People, Life Between Buildings: Using Public Space and New City Spaces.

Gehl also visited Prague in March when he gave a lecture at the Habitat international conference.

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