Work: Research

We research issues related to the quality of public life in cities, including human scale design, public health, climate adaptation, and civic participation.

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Tools and Protocol, Research

Inclusive Healthy Places

How do we know when public space supports health, and when processes that shape public spaces are inclusive? Despite the growing evidence connecting place and health, design and physical activity, the natural environment and mental well-being, and more, there are few available resources to help planners and policymakers identify the kind of real evidence that is needed to help make decisions and fund public space projects that promote individual and community health and well-being.

Trainings, Research

Urban95: Cities for Young Children

Gehl Institute, along with Gehl, are collaborating with the Bernard van Leer Foundation on its Urban95 initiative, which focuses on enhancing everyday public spaces for young children (ages 0-5) and their caretakers.

Tools and Protocol, Research

Climate Adaptation Planning and Public Life

Public life provides many co-benefits for climate adaptation and resilience projects, such as improvements in environmental quality, social connectivity, and reduction in future risks. Our framework outlines a set of indicators to help define, identify, and quantify the effects of public life on climate adaptation projects.



Gehl Institute collaborated with the MIT Civic Data Design Lab as they designed, fabricated, and tested sensor-enabled street furniture for the collection of public life data.


Public Life and Public Safety

Gehl Institute studies how public spaces can be made more dignified, welcoming, and active as a means of promoting public safety.

Research, Tools and Protocol

A Mayor’s Guide to Public Life

A Mayor’s Guide to Public Life helps leaders achieve tangible public life improvements by offering strategies, resources, and real-world case studies. The material is based on interviews conducted with leading mayors, designers, and practitioners with experience in public space projects.


People First, Action Oriented Planning

Use the city as a living laboratory to measure the quality of public life. Acquire new tools to take incremental steps toward meaningful and authentic neighborhood transformations. Begin to develop a common vocabulary in which to discuss and ultimately implement small changes and large transformations.


Social Space Experiments and Interventions

Upon its founding in 2015, Gehl Institute initiated a series of experiments to explore the role of public space in encouraging and inviting social mixing, economic integration, and civic engagement.

Research, Tools and Protocol

The Public Life Diversity Toolkit

Gehl Institute developed a suite of tools, research, and training materials focused on the relationship between the design of public spaces and the socioeconomic diversity of the public life they support.