Nina Stener Jørgensen and Maroš Krivý offer us the broader picture of the contemporary urbanist discourse of liveability and Jan Gehl's rise to prominence. In a tour de force, they walk us through Gehl's original work within the Danish welfare state of the 1960s, his indebtedness to the contributions of his wife Ingrid, his rise to stardom following Al Gore's liveability agenda, and why his success throws a shadow even on people like Richard Florida. The political responses to the Covid-19 situation show no significant disruption with the liveability discourse but possibly allow for a new round of implementations in public space. The presented critique situates the liveability approach in the context of neoliberal urbanism that posits equality while simultaneously remaining blind, if not covering up structural inequalities and social conflicts. In effect, the current Black Lives Matter protests against anti-Black racism confront this paradigm with the question: Liveability for whom?
Maroš Krivý is Associate Professor and Director of Urban Studies at the Faculty of Architecture, Estonian Academy of Arts. He was previously a Research Associate in the Department of Geography, University of Cambridge. His work, situated at the intersections of urban geography and architectural history, has been published in journals such as IJURR, Planning Theory, Architectural Histories, The Journal of Architecture, Footprint and Avery Review. Maroš contributed to a number of edited collections, including Neoliberalism on the Ground (University of Pittbusrgh Press, 2020) and Second World Postmodernisms (Bloomsbury, 2019).
Nina Stener Jørgensen is a PhD student at the Faculty of Architecture, Estonian Academy of Arts, working on a thesis that investigates the intersection of Participation, Cybernetics and Urbanism in 1960’s western architectural discourse.