The 23 of September 2014 – Gazeta Wyborcza have published a conversation between Małgorzata Domagała and an architect and anthropologist Anna Rumińska from Wrocław, under a strongly-sounding title: ‘We care about cars, not pedestrians’. Someone commented it on Twitter: ‘City against the people’. It might sound harsh, even shocking, but at the same time it’s accurate and revealing.
The conversation does not mention the Year of Jan Gehl, but definitely fits into it’s dynamics. In the interview Anna Rumińska mentions various interesting observations, for example that in places with no benches the elderly don’t leave their homes. There is still more fear that someone will be drinking alcohol on the bench, than the joy that an older man will use it. In this way, the city turns ‘against the people’. Because if it is not ‘for the people’, it means that it’s against them. It pushes away, discourages and chases away.
How it turned out to be, the author of this distinction is Ryszard Kapuściński. He used it in ‘Imperium’ (‘Empire’) while describing his visit in Baku, which he classified as a city ‘against the people’.