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The Human Scale (2012)

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Half of the human population lives in urban areas. By 2050, this will increase to 80%. Life in a megacity is both enchanting and problematic. Today we face peak oil, climate change, ... See full summary »


Andreas Dalsgaard
4 nominations. See more awards »



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Credited cast:
Jan Gehl Jan Gehl ... Himself
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Rob Adams Rob Adams ... Himself
Robert Doyle Robert Doyle ... Himself
Lars Gemzøe Lars Gemzøe ... Himself
Mark Gorton Mark Gorton ... Himself
Iqbal Habib Iqbal Habib ... Himself
Dongquan He Dongquan He ... Himself (as He Dongquan)
Akm Abul Kalam Akm Abul Kalam ... Himself
Abu Naser Khan Abu Naser Khan ... Himself
Hugh Nicholson Hugh Nicholson ... Himself
Bob Parker Bob Parker ... Himself
Khondker Neaz Rahman Khondker Neaz Rahman ... Himself
Jeff Risom Jeff Risom ... Himself
Janette Sadik-Khan Janette Sadik-Khan ... Herself
Ruhan Shama Ruhan Shama ... Herself


Half of the human population lives in urban areas. By 2050, this will increase to 80%. Life in a megacity is both enchanting and problematic. Today we face peak oil, climate change, loneliness and severe health issues due to our way of life. But why? The Danish architect and professor Jan Gehl has studied human behavior in cities through four decades. He has documented how modern cities repel human interaction, and argues that we can build cities in a way, which takes human needs for inclusion and intimacy into account. 'The Human Scale' meets thinkers, architects and urban planners across the globe. It questions our assumptions about modernity, exploring what happens when we put people into the centre of our planning. Written by Final Cut for Real

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Bringing cities to life See more »


Documentary | News


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Release Date:

21 February 2013 (Denmark) See more »

Also Known As:

Den mänskliga staden See more »

Filming Locations:

Denmark See more »


Box Office


$780,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Final Cut for Real See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (TV) | (TV) (2014)



Aspect Ratio:

16:9 HD
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Khondker Neaz Rahman: If you see life, if you see how it grows, then when you grow up you will take care of lives of others. It is not school, it is not a book, it is the timeframe of your life: you learn. So when you turn a city into a place where you don't walk, your kids don't walk, you are raising generations that when they grow up, will not be human.
See more »


Referenced in V centru: Adam Gebrian a Respekt Madam (2018) See more »

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User Reviews

Worthwhile documentary on urban planning and architecture (even with self-serving Danish twist)
15 April 2015 | by paul-allaerSee all my reviews

I was recently browsing the documentary DVD section at my local library in search of something interesting to watch, and fell upon this. Certainly the sleeve jacket picture of a city upside down caught my attention, but then when I read what this was about, I thought that this could be really interesting, and I decided to pick it up. So glad I did.

"The Human Scale" (2012 release from Denmark; 77 min.) provides a renewed look at how to plan and build our cities, as seen through the eyes and the vision of Danish urban architect Jan Gelh and his colleagues at Gehl Architects. The opening images, combined with the stirring soundtrack, made me think of the movie "Koyaanisqatsi" from the early 80s. Soon thereafter, we dive into Chapter 1 (of 5), where the movie makers look at how cities in China have changed (don't call it progressed) in a compressed time period of just 30 years. Chapter 2 looks at Copenhagen and New York, and it quickly becomes clear what the movie makers' perspective is, assuming you agree that the way we build cities influences our daily life and our quality of life (which I agree with). The before and after pictures of the changes in Manhattan are fascinating. Chapter 3 looks at Chongoing (China), Siena (Italy) and Melbourne. Chapter 4 brings us the challenges facing Dhaka (Bangladesh). But the best is saved for last: a fascinating look at what is going on in Christchurch, New Zealand. I'm not going to tell you what, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

In all, at just 77 min., this documentary flew by in no time and I enjoyed it for the most part. Yet I also was bothered by two particular things: (1) the documentary is in essence one long commercial for the services of the Gehl Architects firm. Couldn't the movie makers really not find anyone else to provide other perspectives (even if they are similar to Gehl's)? (2) In the documentary, the point is made several times that the "gold standard' of urban planning is of course Copenhagen ("can X be the next Copenhagen?"). Really? I find it incredibly self-serving, when you realize that this movie is made/produced by Danes and that Gehl is also Danish. Plus it's presented like a matter of fact, when in reality this is a very subjective conclusion and I'd venture to say that there are quite a few cities in Europe that are not all that different from Copenhagen in its urban lay-out. All that aside, if you have any interest in urban planning, I'd strongly suggest that you check out this documentary, and draw your own conclusion on all this.

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