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Helle Søholt on her Space Odyssey

2015/2/25 — 14:27

網絡片段截圖:HELLE SØHOLT

網絡片段截圖:HELLE SØHOLT

【Text by Siukwai To】

“Making cities more livable and sustainable” is what Helle Søholt has been advocating and working on with her partners at the well-known Gehl Architects, which has a great reputation in the field of urban design and urban development. It may appear to you that her ultimate goal is a mission impossible, but if you scan through the projects Søholt has done and the services provided, she has proved it otherwise.

Compared to the citizens in 50 years ago, our needs and daily activities have changed a lot. From fishing and farming to facebook-ing, we focus much more on the virtual world and space today rather than the community we are living in. However, have you ever asked yourself whether you would survive the virtual world without an inhabitable reality? When asked what she imagines a future city would be like and what she would design for it, Søholt sees that to enhance our quality of life, more “living rooms” are needed. By which she means we will need more varied and lively network of public spaces and basic facilities like community services and schools are a must. She emphasized that these “outdoor living rooms” are the most essential part of a livable community. Whilst we are doing our best to sustain our virtual self and life on-line, Søholt is developing more public “living rooms” available for us to gather.

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For Village Reimagined, where we are dreaming a community into life together, everyone is contributing what they know or what they have to make it come true. Being a part of it, Søholt would love to “build spaces for people, green parks and playgrounds and seamless well-integrated transport systems with every neighbourhood”. Mobility of the citizens within a neighbourhood is the key to the doors for better community services and interactions among people, as Søholt has always been striving for constructing better transportation systems and access for people to get to work, to places of education and community activities. Would it not be cool if Søholt built a cyclepath all over Village Reimagined to get every region in connection?

Village Reimagined is only one of the many projects Søholt takes part in, there are communities in different sizes and settings, say villages, cities and societies that she works on. To keep them livable and sustainable, has Søholt a one-size-fits-all strategy to fix them all or a secret ingredient to be added to each of them? Søholt said that it depends on the culture, as they are very diverse “and yet, people are often much more alike than we think”. Apart from spaces and cultures, she sees a community will also need security, activity, food, beauty, passion, love etc. But “most importantly”, Søholt added, “we need each other: People are attracted to places where other people are.” She thinks that a community does not exist if people only live, work and play next to each other with no interaction. These elements and facilities she has suggested bring us back to the fundamental idea that Søholt has set her journey on: to build more public “outdoor living rooms” that citizens can interact and share.

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(Original published in The Communal Times)

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