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City architect explains how Copenhagen became a city for people

16 June 2016

Investment in public space, access to green spaces with a focus on pedestrians are some of the ways Tina Saaby has helped make Copenhagen a ‘city for people’.

Addressing a crowd of over 100 people in Edinburgh last night at the RTPI Scotland's Sir Patrick Geddes Annual Lecture, Tina drew on her experience as the City Architect of Copenhagen to explained how she had facilitated changes across the city to make it more people friendly.

Tina Saaby Copenhagen Patrick Geddes Lecture 2016

She cited specific measures used by the city to make it a city for people:

  • making all school yards public and green
  • pedestrian focus for design on the sunny side of the street
  • requiring all buildings, even if privately owned, to have public access
  • only providing a 10% grant to social housing if the design meets the City Architect’s approval
  • designing neighbourhoods so that walking and cycling is simple but complicated for cars
  • developing a ‘winter city experiment’ to design urban spaces that are used in bad weather

Craig McLaren, Director of RTPI Scotland said:

“Tina was inspirational and had a lot of really practical advice based on her extensive experience about how we can make our cities better for people. She spoke about how the core of Copenhagen’s planning efforts were to encourage and support people to spend more time out of doors to help them develop healthy lifestyles, their appreciation of the city and interaction with one another."

Copenhagen has learnt through temporary experiments how to use land and spaces effectively for people. Tina spoke about the institutional and working culture needed to bring everyone together to drive change. She told the audience ‘we need to create a language that engages politicians, administrations and planners and architects’.

Tina Saaby , Copenhagen , Sir Patrick Geddes Lecture 2016

The Sir Patrick Geddes Annual Lecture, held to honour Sir Patrick Geddes the founder of modern town planning, advances Geddesian thinking and stimulates debate on key issues in planning. Each year a different leading thinker delivers the lecture.

Tina Saaby has been the City Architect of Copenhagen since September 2010. She graduated from The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Schools of Architecture in 1997. She has worked many years as an architect.

Tina is Visiting Professor at Sheffield University and external examiner at The University of Roskilde, The University of Copenhagen and The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation. Tina is also  the Chairman of the Advisory board at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation.

See how Tina’s speech unfolded on Twitter.