If cities were family-friendly

Families in the city are like canaries in a coalmine

‘Families in the city are like canaries in a coalmine,’ says urban geographer Willem Boterman. You can gauge the state of the city by their behaviour. Whether families remain or move away says a lot about the quality of life, traffic safety and the standard of childcare centres, schools and other amenities. Families create socially strong structures. They spend lots of time in the neighbourhood, meet up with neighbours, bring life and a sense of social safety to the streets. The basis for a strong local community is formed at the childcare centres, the playground and, later, at the primary school. In short, a family-friendly city is a healthy, socially strong and liveable city.


Now is the time!

The pressure on the city and the difficulty faced by families in finding suitable homes prompt the question: how can we make the city appealing for families while increasing its density? This demands that we structurally consider the design of neighbourhoods, the types of urban family housing, and the sustainable integration of amenities.

Six ambitions are central to our publication:

“If cities were family-friendly…”

…you could reach basic amenities and services by foot or bike within fifteen minutes

…walking and cycling would be the most important modes of transport

…the city would be a playground where you can always play safely and nearby in a green environment

…there would be enough affordable family housing

…air pollution would no longer exist

…strong social networks would exist


Workshop Binckhorst and Molenwijk, The Hague
A study into how to make neighbourhoods family-friendly was carried out in Molenwijk and Binckhorst, two neighbourhoods in The Hague. Many families already live in the old city district of Molenwijk. There are opportunities here to link initiatives in the fields of sustainability, climate adaptation and social cohesion in order to make the neighbourhood more appealing for families. Over the coming years, Binckhorst will transform into a mixed living-working area. The exact plan has yet to be finalized spatially and programmatically. But now is the time to put the family on the agenda. The main message here is: do not look at Molenwijk and Binckhorst as two separate worlds; there is much to be gained by viewing the neighbourhoods in combination.


Would you like to know more about how you can contribute to a family-friendly city?
Download ‘If cities were family-friendly…’, a joint publication by Urhahn and the Van Leer Foundation. Or contact our experts Wendy van Kessel or Ad de Bont for a working session in which we jointly explore how we can improve family friendliness in your municipality.



Philosophy of the spontaneous city

Our philosophy is based on the concept of the Spontaneous City. The Spontaneous City is rooted in the idea that the city is made with and for its residents. A city must create scope for unexpected (organic) developments, opportunities that present themselves, and a wide range of initiatives. Space for change forms the basis of a sustainable and attractive city. This applies not only to the planning process but also to the completed project. In our plans we always seek a balance between what must be fixed and where you need to create flexibility for the unexpected.


Together with users
To know what is going on in a neighbourhood or city, we are happy to listen. Residents, retailers, entrepreneurs and experts on specific fields or issues, know better than anyone what goes well and what can be improved. Our experience is that you quickly pass everyday inconveniences when you ask about dreams and ambitions. Everyone is aware that the world is changing and that the neighbourhood or city will not improve if you only think from the perspective of your own backyard.


Social added value
The city is a complex mechanism. Urban planning is sometimes reduced to the economy of real estate: how much can you build and what does that yield? We look at the city more broadly. How do you build vibrant, mixed cities focused on strengthening both economic and social structures? In our projects we always look for the essential task for a place.


Urban design is a long-term profession: we come up with plans that sometimes are fully realized decades later. This requires flexibility in the plans, dealing with uncertainties. Plans are really sustainable if they can respond to constant changes and innovations. Cities have been around for centuries, what we design builds on what is already there.


Always keep learning
We gain new knowledge and experience in every project. This changes our way of working as the world around us changes. New media have broadened the opportunities for participation and make large groups more accessible and with new technologies. Knowledge of young people is just as valuable and inspiring as that of experienced employees. Collaboration with others is a way for us to continue to learn and innovate. In addition to the projects, we regularly initiate research projects on specific themes.


Read how we approach our work with our philosophy of the Spontaneous City. Or read more about our team, our clients, our network, or about the 3 decades of experience of urban development agency Urhahn.


700 projects in 30 years

The list below shows all Urhahn’s commissions since the establishment of the office in 1991, in order of completion (until January 2021).

Our English site is more compact than our Dutch site. To see more project descriptions, please brouwse through our Dutch pages.

Tip: use the search bar to look for a specific place, a type of commission or any other key word.


Toekomstbeeld Bergse binnenstad – vision for the town centre
Langetermijnperspectief  Almelo – urban vision
Spelregels voor bewegen in Eindhoven – legal framework 
Perspectief op de Oostflank van de binnenstad van Breda – vision for the town centre
>Ruimtelijk economische visie Assen – spatial economical vision
Ouder-Amstel Werkstad OverAmstel Business Park – supervisie
Grenzeloos Dijk & Waard (Heerhugowaard-Langedijk) – area vision
Kindvriendelijke stad – research for the Bernard van Leer foundation
Visie Westdijk, havens Broekhorn & Broek op Langedijk – area vision


Het nieuwe alledaags, ruimte na corona – research
Amsterdam Storkterrein – urban design
Vlaardingen town centre – area vision
Assen – vision for the town centre
Ouder-Amstel Amstel Business Park
Apeldoorn – inviting public space
Deventer Zandweerd – follow-up and participation for urban development
Assen Harbour District – urban layout for housing impulse
s-Hertogenbosch Oost Bastion plot – urban framework plan
Utrecht former Pieter Baan Centrum – urban framework plan
Amersfoort De Brand – vision and urban design sketch
Dijk & Waard – urban vision for the planned fusion of municipalities Heerhugowaard & Langedijk
Leidschendam-Overgoo – urban framework plan
Naarden Naarderheem – intervision for the development of nursing home
Drechterland, Stede Broec and Enkhuizen – Strategy on Spatial Planning and the Environment
Child friendly city – research for Bernard van Leerstichting
Zoetermeer – Strategy on Spatial Planning and the Environment, part 2
Woerden Middelland – supervision of initiatives
Amersfoort De Hoef – development scenarios Hoefkwartier
Dijk en Waard – Vision for the Westdijk, marinas Broekhorn and Broek op Langedijk
Zeist Vollenhove – urban design vision
Leiden Transvaal – urban design sketch
Ede centrum – improvement of the centre vision and image quality
Alkmaar Viaanse Molen – development strategy for the transformation of an urban area of employment

Utrecht A12-zone – development perspective
Ede Strategy on Spatial Planning and the Environment – survey on future development scenarios
Amsterdam KIT – development strategy for the renovation
s-Hertogenbosch Station Oost – Ambition document
Purmerend Wheermolen – follow up of the development vision and parking studies
Leiderdorp Baanderij – urban design vision
Middenbeemster – development vision
Hoofddorp town centre, council hall and surrounding – urban framework plan
Atelier Oostflank MRA – a perspective on the area between Amsterdam east and Almere
Amsterdam Bay Area – development framework for the blue heart of the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area
Werkplaats Almere Centrum – urban design vision as part of the Atelier Oostflank MRA
Werkplaats Almere Toekomstbestendige Stad – urban design vision as part of the Atelier Oostflank MRA
Medemblik – ctown centre vision and image quality
Noord-Hollandse dorpsranden – assessment framework for initiatives
Hoorn town hall – investigation for possible locations
‘Omgevingsagenda’s’ (Strategy on Spatial Planning and the Environment) for a few regions in the Nederlands
Stede Broec – finalizing the urban designs for the shopping centre Streekhof and supervision
Amsterdam Surinameplein – urban design vision
Zuidoostbeemster – development framwork
Haarlem Stationsgebied – integral vision for the station area
Dietinchem – spatial Strategy on Spatial Planning and the Environment
Amstelveen Oude Dorp – urban design vision for the old village
Vlaardingen Rivieroever – development framework
Dashboard verstedelijking – scenarios for the regions of Eindhoven and Rotterdam-The Hague
Amsterdam INIT – first fase concept development
Ouder-Amstel Amstel Business Park en Entrada – supervisie
Ommen Haven Oost – uitwerking ontwikkelvisie transformatie
Omgevingsagenda (Strategy on Spatial Planning and the Environment) East-Netherlands
Amsterdam Hamerkanaal – workshop ‘operation Dirk’
Festival Stad – organization of conference on urban transformations

Deventer Zandweerd – follow up of the urban design
Eindhoven Vredeoord – concept development and feasibility study for the VB-building
Leeuwarden Heechterp – urban design vision

Amsterdam Meervaart – location survey for the new theatre
Amsterdam Storkterrein – urban design
Rotterdam Hoogvliet – development strategy
Further development of the Dashboard for Urbanisation – CRA
Hoofddorp Binnenweg – mass study and urban layout proposal
Amsterdam Van der Kunbuurt – urban design
The Hague on 2 wheels – contribution to the exhibition ‘mobility, not less but different’
Leiderdorp Baanderij – scenarios for transformation of the urban area of employment

Fix the City Mix – own initiative for research into obstacles for functional mix
Amsterdam Oostenburg – continuation of the work for the urban design and public space design
Zoetermeer – Omgevingsvisie (Strategy on Spatial Planning and the Environment)
Lelystad – urban framework plan and course document
Amsterdam Dichtersbuurt – stedenbouwkundig plan
Zeist Vollenhove – workshops, opportunities and ambitions
Amsterdam Knowledge mile – area vision for housing around the Wibautstraat
Zwolle Weezenlanden – urban design and image quality
Woerden Middelland – urban design rules and supervision initiatives
Hoofddorp Town Centre – ambition document
Amersfoort Trapezium – assumptions
Amsterdam Jan de Louterstraat – urban design variants
Purmerend Wheermolen Oost – work up of the different areas
Amersfoort De Hoef stationsgebied – development plan
Amsterdam Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen – development framework
Eindhoven – activity scan
Delft Station Campus (Zuid) – urban design vision De Strip Tanthofdreef
Alternative funding for urbanization
Ouder-Amstel Amstel Business Park – development framework
Ouder-Amstel – development framework Entrada
Aalst (Waalre) village centre – vision
Utrecht A12-zone – development perspective
Woerden Middelland – development framework
Antwerpen – Activity scan
Hoorn Station Area – deepening of the spatial-programmatic vision Poort van Hoorn
Leidschendam-Voorburg Overgoo – development vision
Wageningen Olympiahal en omgeving – vision
Lelystad – thematic research for the ‘omgevingsvisie’
Leusden Princenhof – vision Kastanjelaan
Arnhem CIOS – organisation workshop for the Vital City
Alphen aan den Rijn Rijnhaven – development vision
Rijssen-Holten – profile and ambition
Zaanstad Poelenburg East – urban design
Enschede Radialen – implementation agenda
Groningen Martini Trade Park – vision
Amsterdam Parnas – development options
Twente Technology Base – support for the development framework
Hoorn – the Future of Hoorn
Havenstad-ZaanIJ – Ateliers urbanisation models and infrastructure
Delft Zuid stationsomgeving – urban design assessment

Deventer Zandweerd – urban design
Purmerend Wheermolen Oost – vision, urban design and plinth study
Bladel – centre vision
Amsterdam Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen – feasability study
Amsterdam Oostenburg – public space design
Alkmaar Oudorp – development vision
Ouder-Amstel Amstel Business Park – supervision
Amsterdam Surinameplein – programmatic and spatial models
Hoofddorp Stadscentrum – urban design and image quality
Common City: Urhahn initiative for research into the social aspects of living in high density areas
Voorburg-Leidschendam – various urban design advice
Harderwijk VSE-locatie – spatian assessment
Eindhoven VDMA – urban design concept
Rotterdam Bospolder-Tussendijken – energy transition in a social inclusive way
Noord-Holland Noord – research into urbanisation opportunities
Fort Uithoorn – urban design sketch
Diemen stationsomgeving – urban design survey
Ede Centrum – concretising the image quality plan
Gebiedsagenda Oost Nederland – design research
Zaanstad Poelenburg East – urban design
Hoofddorp Centraal – supervision initiatives
Utrecht Lauwerecht – discussion document
MIRT-U Ned (development region Utrecht) – organisation workshops
Amsterdam Van der Kunbuurt – assessment mass study
Monnickendam Galgeriet – urban design and image quality
UMC – update development perspective
Groningen ALO-location – spatial models
Katwijk Omgevingsvisie
Dashboard Verstedelijking – CRA
Lelystad – strategic vision
Amsterdam Dichtersbuurt – starting points for redevelopment
Amsterdam Partijlijnen – imagination for the GroenLinks spatial programme

Stede Broec – urban design and image quality shopping mall Streekhof
Amsterdam Oostenburg – building envelopes
Design workshops for external safety design
Utrecht Science Park – spatial model for meeting places
Amersfoort De Hoef stationsgebied – vision
Breda CSM-locatie – imagination of the development strategy
Utrecht UMC – vision
Stede Broec – various urban design advice
Ede Centrum – image quality plan
Leusden – intervisor Princenhof/Ruige veld/Speelkamp
Gouda Goudse Poort – market perspective and development strategy
Amsterdam Nieuwenhuysenbuurt – mass study
Doetinchem De Veentjes – vision
Almere Centrum stationsgebied – area concept
Zaanstad Poelenburg aan de Watering – vision and starting points for development
Publicatie: ‘The Active City’
Woerden Middelland – development vision
Eindhoven Centraal – area concept for the town centre
Hoofddorp – development plan for the town centrre
Hoofddorp Centraal – elaboration of the route and the development plan for Beukenhorst West
MRDH (Metropoolregio Rotterdam-Den Haag) – research
Amsterdam Hamerstraat / Storkterrein –mass study
Utrecht Lauwerecht – urban design study
Stede Broec Streekbos – development framework
Regio Noordoost Brabant – vision
Den Haag Maanweg – studie en verbeelding ontwikkeling HTM kavel
Amsterdam Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen – ontwikkelingsvisie
Regio Alkmaar Omgevingsbeeld
Regio Alkmaar – workshops
Uithoorn Fort – spatial-programmatic study
Tilburg binnenstad – economic-spatial vision for the town centre
Noord-Holland Noord – regional viision for the Greenport
Naarden Passantenhaven – vision
Lelystad Airport Garden City – plot rules
Ouderamstel Amstel Business Park – spatial economic vision
Katwijk – start document for the environmental vision
Rijsenhout – spatial economic vision
Amersfoort De Hoef – mass study Lichtpenweg
Amstelveen Stadshart – spatial framework
Den Haag Binckhaven – vision
Amersfoort De Hoef – structure vision
Amsterdam Van der Kunbuurt – mass study
Medemblik DEK-terrein – vision and urban design


Groningen Herestraat / Hereweg – vision for the enhancement of the livability for the inner city
Southern Randstad – urbanization agenda
Katwijk Valkenburg – testing the initiative Unmanned Valley to the master plan
Noordwijk De Grent – transformation strategy
Amersfoort Trapezium – master plan
Katwijk Valkenburg – development framework Werkpark
Stede Broec Zuidwest – vision and assessment framework
Tilburg City Centre – spatial and economic vision for the inner city of the 21st century
Tilburg Eastern Railway Zone – area concept
Maarssen Planetenbaan – opportunities map
Ouder-Amstel Zuidpark – spatial assessment and vision
Mijdrecht station area – urban elaboration
Langedijk – contribution to the vision ‘Langedijk develops with water’
Almere Oosterwold – conribution to the evaluation of the pilot phase

Woerden Middelland – opportunities and development scenarios

The Hague – plot ambition Maanweg
Amsterdam Slotermeer – research into the approach for some residential blocks
Utrecht Overvecht – densification study and vision on the transformation
Amsterdam Oostenburg – image quality plan
Amsterdam Oostenburg – spatial framework plan
Lelystad Airport Garden City – general layout plan
Eindhoven VDMA-location – spatial contribution vision
Lelystad Airport Business Park – detailed urban plan for the public space framework of area 1.2
Strength of Brabantstad in relation to the Spatial-Economic Development Strategy (REOS)
Doetinchem – design workshop centre approach
Houten Molenzoom – opportunities map
Westfriesland – structure plan
Hoofddorp Central – layout plan and development strategy
Katwijk Valkenburg – development framework Mient Kooltuin
Hoofddorp – urban design study for a new location for the Town Hall
Detailing of the Spatial-Economic Development Strategy (REOS)
Naarden Amersfoortsestraatweg – image quality plan
Hoorn – vision for the city centre
Almelo Indië – supervision
Stede Broec – urban design shopping mall Streekhof
Volendam Lange Weeren – vision, zoning plan and exploitation plan
Ouder-Amstel Amstel Business Park – public space design for pocket parks
Eindhoven station area – curator of workshops
Lelystad Airport Business Park – detailed urban plan for the hotel plot
Westfriesland – curator of workshops on water
Langedijk Breekland II – study for alternatives
Almere Wind mills – research into the border between residential areas and the possibility for wind mills
Amsterdam Oostenburg – circular economy
Amsterdam South Axis – contribution design lab for the Architecture Centre Amsterdam
Amsterdam Oostenburg – masterplan public space
Monnickendam Galgeriet – strategic advise for a town centre area of employment
Emmen former zoo – inspiration and development framework
Zaanstad – vision 2040
Emmen city centre – supervision of the renewal


Strategy indicator for urban transformation – research
Alkmaar Voltastraat – analysis and options
Aalsmeer Uiterweg – development opportunities
Amsterdam Oostenburg – urban layout plan
Utrecht Science Park – environments for interaction (for the REOS – Spatial-Economic Development Strategy)
Hoorn – neighbourhood visions
Vision for the development of urban environments for interaction of knowledge workers (REOS)
IJssel-Vecht Delta – strategy water safety and climate resistance
Research into added value of connecting water and MIRT
Assessment framework redevelopment strategies for available national real estate
Utrecht Merwedekanaalzone – development framework
North Sea Canal Area – drawing up monitor area intensification for the North Sea Canal Area
Amsterdam Draka terrain – vision
Westfriesland areas of employment – realisation strategy
Naarden Amersfoortsestraatweg – participation process and vision
Katwijk Locatie Valkenburg – detailed plans for the development strategy
Schiphol region – quickscan IBA
Hoofddorp open planproces – contribution to workshops
Amsterdam Vuurtoreneiland – spatial support for the framework plan
Amstelveen Stadshart – various works for the vision
Region Holland-Rijnland – interactive map biobased economy


Nieuwpoort – extension plan for the marina
Noord-Holland woonmilieus – guide for the transformation of existing residential areas
Amsterdam Gezond Ingerichte Stad – contribution to the workshops
Arnhem Zuidelijke Binnenstad – drawing up the projectdescription
Katwijk Locatie Valkenburg – development strategy
Eindhoven Strijp-T – sustainable development strategy
Eindhoven Space-S – public space design
Beijing Qinghe Station – work week TOD
Brabantstad – workshop adaptive programme
Klimaatbestendige Stad (‘climate proof cities’) – Meekoppelmetro (connecting system for projects)
Klimaatbestendige Stad (‘climate proof cities’) – Instrumentarium
Stede Broec – market consultation shopping mall Streekhof
West-Friesland – needs assessment for business sites
The Hague Binckhorst – vision north west quarter
Stede Broec Het Voert – urban design survey
Amsterdam Oostenburg – spatial contribution for the zoning plan
Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge – contribution to the Amsterdam concept (finalist)
Noordzeekanaalgebied – wind potential in the North Sea Canal Area
Amstelveen – work book revision Tracébesluit A9
Bloemendaal Hendrik van der Graaflaan – assessment rooftop extension
The Hague Binckhaven – Urbanisator
Maarssen Planetenbaan – inspiration for transformation


Almelo Indië – supervision
Visualisations support for APPM
Delta programme – practice locations climate-proof cities
Stadsregio Amsterdam – visualisation of the future public transport system A9
Hoorn – development concept for recreational homes on water
Utrecht Cartesius – development vision
Eindhoven Space-S – urban design
Noordzeekanaalgebied – vision 2040
Maassluis Kapelpolder – feasibility study for redevelopment
Arnhem Rijnboog – spatial principles
Amsterdam Zeeburgerpad – vision and design rules
Amsterdam Slotermeer – urban design Airey strip
Zaanstad Poelenburg – vision op on renovation of the apartment buildings
Amsterdam Plantagebuurt – area vision new style
Hasselt – water plan
Arnhem Nieuwstraat – development strategy
Amsterdam Oostenburg – work up of the development plan
Utrecht Kruisvaartkade – development framework
Washington Barry Farm – urban renewal plan (invited competition)
Amsterdam Oostelijke Eilanden – area vision new style
Emmen Bargermeer – Urbanisator
Amstelveen – alternative for an A9 tunnel
Twente Netwerkstad – workshops development programme Network City
Groningen Corpus Den Hoorn – Urbanisator
Regio Holland Rijnland – investment programme public transport network
Veldhoven – development programme for the centre
Heerlen MijnSpoor – vision (invited competition)
Noordzeekanaalgebied – perspectives 2040
Langedijk – integrating the N504
Papendrecht Rembrandtlaan – quick scan development opportunities
Tiel Westluidensepoort – support for the tender procedure
Langedijk – vision for the linear town


Oaxaca Puente IV-Centenario – 2e fase design of the bridges and solution for the traffic
Stadsregio Amsterdam – impression Amstelveenlijn Beneluxbaan
Rotterdam Alexandrium – – urban integration of the shopping mall
Zaanstad Poelenburg – supervision
Regio Holland Rijnland – investment programme bicycle network
Oaxaca Puente IV-Centenario – urban design for of 2 bridges and park
Designing the Spontaneous City – research in co-production with PBL
Delft Spoorzone – ambition document
Halfweg town centre – TFR assist perspectives
Rijswijk Prinses Beatrixlaan – vision
Bussum Crailo – strategies for development
Hoogeveen Mauritsplein – urban design
Amsterdam Zuidoost – Improvement plan for the markets
Delft Schieoevers – various advise for the Kabeldistrict
Huzhou Tulip park – urban design advise
The Hague Robertaland – scenarios for urban regeneration
Schiphol Areas of Employment – development strategy REVS
IABR – Upload Eindhoven
Shenyang Blue Sea Manrong Changbai – contribution to urban design concept and landmark
Zaanstad Bannehof – workshop programmatic possibilities
Eindhoven Brainport Region – research urban agenda
Amstelveen Stadshart – advise for structure vision
Oaxaca Rio Atoyac – vision and master plan
Amsterdam Oostenburg – work book for the development
Den Helder Gemini hospital – TFR assist vision redevelopment
Hoogeveen – vision on housing in the centre
Stadsregio Amsterdam – impression Amstelveenlijn
Aalsmeer Hornmeer – master plan
Utrecht 2e Daalsedijk & Cartesiusdriehoek – design research organic development
The Hague Binckhorst – Binckubator, a joint approach
Vlissingen-Den Helder – organization of workshop
A4 zone west – advise on eye catcher
Shenyang Shen Fu – master plan
Delft Spoorzone – strategic advice on the urban design


Alphen aan den Rijn – work up of the structure vision
Arnhem Zuidelijke Binnenstad – spatial assessment
Tiel Westluidensepoort – ambitions document for tender procedures
Oaxaca – diagnosis for the city
Arnhem Nieuwstraat e.o. – urban design
Shenyang Movie Town Xiu Lake – urban design sketches
Antwerp Emiel Vloorstraat – regeneration of a working area (invited competition)
Zaanstad Schildersbuurt – spatial vision & community planning
Schiphol Oost – masterplan Aerospace Exchange 2010-2015
Amsterdam Amstel III – Urbanisator, a development instrument for transformation
Amstelveen A9 zone – sketch book for alternatives of the highway tunnel
Oaxaca – organization concerning the content of a forum on public value
Shenyang Hunhe River – contribution to competition entry
Regio Holland Rijnland – quick scan public transport models
Leiden inner city – vision on the accessibility
Ningbo CiXi Xin Tang District Block – masterplan (invited competition)
Amsterdam Oostenburg – sketch masterplan (winning design invited competition)
Haarlem Harloheim – competition
Shenyang Citizen Square – urban design (invited competition)
Alkmaar Overstad – detailing of plots and parts of the masterplan
Shenyang Hunnan Baita River – Masterplan
Leiden – Quickscan urban and economical dynamics RijnGouwelijn
Shenyang Hunnan – advise green structure and central square
Uden Kastanjetuin – detailed urban design
Leiden – visualisation accessibility
Amstelveen Zone A9 – support of project organization area vision
Haarlem Bavodorp – urban design analysis and recommendations
Amsterdam Oost – visualisation participation vision
Delft Spoorzone – redefinition of the Masterplan
Harbin He Jia River – Masterplan
Amsterdam Slotermeer – vision and spatial models Aireystrook
Zaanstad Station Koog-Zaandijk – vision junction development & railway crossing
Hasselt Noord – Open Oproep Vision Kempische Poort (invited competition)
Shenyang Puhe River – Masterplan
Leiden inner city – assessment traffic circulation


Delft Schieoevers – transformation strategy Kabel district
Tiel Westluidensepoort – location concept for a cultural cluster
Almelo Indië – public space design
The Hague Binckhorst – development framework
The Spontaneous City – Publication
Alkmaar Overstad – structure plan (in association with West-8)
London Croydon – masterplan Wellesley Road & Park Lane
De Wolden – urban design for Neuzendijk Ruinen
A4 zone west – concept development plan (invited competition)
Harderwijk Stationsgebied – structure vision
Ouder-Amstel – scenarios for De Nieuwe Kern
Uden Kastanjetuin – feasibility study
Alphen aan den Rijn – workshops for a structure vision
Utrecht Overvecht – detailing of future vision and supplementary design guidance
Shenyang Hunnan – vision on the master plan (invited competition)
Amsterdam Cruquius – competition entry ‘Freehaven Cruquius’
Uden Kastanjeweg Oost – structure vision
Arnhem Nieuwstraat e.o. – inspiring vision (winning design invited competition)
Amstelveen Zone A9 – area vision
Amsterdam Riekerhaven – spatial and programmatic concept
Eindhoven Region – inspiration for housing polocy document
Province of Zuid-Holland – inspiring vision staande mastroute (recreational sailing route)
Amstelveen Piet Heijnschool – study for otions
Zandvoort Sandevoerde – sketch urban design
Tilburg Paletplein – study
Hoofddorp ‘De Groene Hoek’ – investigation of conditions for development
Amsterdam Overtoomseveld Zuid – detailed urban design Spoorstrook Zuid XL
Arnhem Rijnboog Havenkwartier – urban design
The Hague Binckhorst – location study for an industrial building
Arnhem Rijnboog – supplementary design guidance


The Hague Binckhorst – integral development plan
De Wolden – optimalisation of the urban design for Neuzendijk Ruinen
Arnhem Rijnboog – urban survey for the Oeverstraat
Amsterdam Indische Buurt Zuidoostkwadrant – development scenarios
Willemstad (Curacao) Scharloo – contribution to the structure plan
Amsterdam Noordoostelijke IJ-oevers – ‘Noorderveld’ (contribution to the Biennale 2009)
Aalst Siesegem – study for the Masterplan (invited competition Vlaams Bouwmeester)
Antwerp Jos van Geellaan – concept for Masterplan (invited competition)
Amsterdam Nieuw West – vision Jan Evertsenstraat and design for entrepreneurs spaces
Tynaarlo Oude Tolweg Zuidlaren – urban lay out plan, public realm design and supervision
Gouda Goudse Poort – competition entry for transformation of an industrial area
The Hague Binckhorst – study for catalysts
Rotterdam Stadshavens – quick scan ‘metro communities’
Almelo Indië – development plan for an industrial area transformation
Hamburg – input for a masterclass
Zaanstad Poelenburg – urban design
Amsterdam Slotermeer Noord, Zuid en Noordoever – urban renewal plan
Arnhem Rijnstraat – investigation for development of the Blikken Bioscoop location
Zaanstad aan het IJ – exploration and inspiring perspective
London Croydon – design concept for Wellesley Road and Park Lane (winner design competition)
Hoofddorp De Hoek – supplementary design guidance and public realm
Zaanstad Bloemstraat – urban design
Arnhem Rijnboog Havenkwartier – study for otions for the harbour area
Amsterdam Indische Buurt Zuidoostkwadrant – investigation for a Community Centre
Utrecht Kruisvaertkade – urban design and public space design
Amsterdam Noordoever Sloterplas – visualisation of the ambitions
Amstelveen A9 Zone – scenarios for development around the A9 highway
Amsterdam Slotervaart – investigation Westland
Arnhem Coehoorn Noordoost – optimalisation of the plan concept
Zoetermeer Boerhaavelaan – urban design
Zaanstad Cypressehout 100 – supplementary design guidance and prelininary public space design
Amsterdam – workshop ‘Denkbare Stad’
South London – housing intensification study in seven town centres
Almere Hout Noord – Masterplan (invited competition)
Tynaarlo Oude Tolweg Zuidlaren – Masterplan
Amsterdam Muiderpoort Noord – investigation for small scale industrial spaces
Heemskerk De Velst – sketch urban design (invited competition)
Amsterdam Indische Buurt – spatial ambition for the south east area


Alkmaar Overstad – urban design (winner European tender procedure)
De Wolden – concept urban design Neuzendijk Ruinen
Den Haag Binckhorst – intensification studies and design investigation for the south area
Zaanstad aan het IJ – inspiring presentation to Zaanstad City Council
Hoofddorp De Hoek – Masterplan
Almelo De Velden – 1st fase of development of the Indie terrain
Dordrecht Zuidpolder – housing study
Copenhagen Nordhavnen – Water Republic (competition entry)
Delft Schieoevers – development strategy for the Blauw area
Amsterdam Overtoomse Veld Zuid – urban design vision for Spoorstrook Zuid XL
London Barking William Street Quarter – public realm design
Tiel Stationsgebied – mass study for section A
Arnhem Rijnboog Coehoorn NO – design investigation for development possibilities
Dordrecht Binnenstad – programmatic scenarios
Rijswijk Bomenbuurt – planning vision (invited competition)
Hoofddorp West – planning vision
Arnhem Rijnboog – help desk
Bedford station quarter – urban development vision
Amsterdam WaterRepublic – exploration for a water transport system
De Wolden – urban framework plan Neuzendijk Ruinen
Flevoland Markermeer-IJmeer – visualisation of a sustainable ecological system
London Barking William Street Quarter – Masterplan
Amstelveen-Amsterdam Zuidoost – development scenarios around the A9 highway
Arnhem Spijkerbroek – planning vision
Genk – Masterplan Groot Sledderlo (invited competition)
Zaanstad Cypressehout 100 – urban design
Rijswijk Gijnstraat/Frijdastraat – urban design investigation
Schiphol Elzenhof & Badhoevedorp Zuid – vision for office environments
Almere Poort – investment strategy for a location along the beach


Almelo ‘Parkstad’ – vitalization of the city’s green character
Haarlem Connexxiongebied Leidsevaart – urban design for an open tender
Rijswijk Havenkwartier – urban framework plan
Spontaneous City – investigation how greater influence can be exercised by users of the city
Noordzeekanaalgebied – planning vision ‘Vergezicht 2040’
Peterborough Station Quarter – development brief
Stadsregio Rotterdam ‘oeverboek’ – vision for the Rotterdam waterfront developments
Rotterdam ‘Living City’ – spatial plan and vision Ahoy-area
Rijswijk location Productschap Vlees en Vis – design guidelines
Amsterdam Arena-Duivendrecht – urban design vision
Arnhem Rijnboog Paradijs – location study
Arnhem Rijnboog De Krul – design exploration for a pedestrian route
Badhoevedorp – sketches for a planning vision
Amersfoort – competition entry pavilion BOEK750
Arnhem Rijnboog Havenkwartier – 3 designs for the Preferendum
Amsterdam Heesterveld – competition entry ‘Heesterveld zoekt bewoners’
Deltawonen – from quality to perspectives for taking action
Rijswijk parkeergarage Plaspoelpolder – spatial and programmatic models for a plot of land
Zwolle Voorsterpoort – urban planning vision / Masterplan
Amsterdam Venserpolder – design for enterprise zone with self-building projects
Stedelijke woonmilieus – urban residential districts: inspiration and information
Blaricummermeent – urban layout plan (invited competition)
Symposium urban designers and integration
Amsterdam Zuidoost – competition entry for the temporary use of a built parking facility
Arnhem Rijnboog – plan book


Amsterdam Venserpolder – planning vision
Schiedam Groenoord Zuid en Midden – urban layout plan
Amsterdam: La Gamma Colori – realisation of a mixed use building in co production with the users
Utrecht Kruisvaertkade – urban design investigation
Arnhem Rijnboog – optimalisation of the Masterplan
Veghel Buiten – planning vision (invited competition)
Zwolle Voorsterpoort Oost – planning vision
The Rhythm of the City – investigation of the characterizations of urbanity
Industry in the City – typological and functional research for intensification and functional mix
Arnhem Rijnboog Rijksgebouwen – design research
Naarden Ravelijn – feasibility study
Tilburg Fabriekskwartier – urban design
Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth – urban renewal plan
Rijswijk Landtong – functional investigation and design studies
Tiel Stationskwartier – development plan
Salford Pendleton – Area Action Plan
Aalsmeer Plassengebied – pilot study for site transformation
Rotterdam Zomerhofkwartier – development plan


Almere Hout, Rekenen en Tekenen – innovation study, catalogue of examples
Rijswijk Plaspoelpolder – planning vision and business park transformation
Rotterdam Stadsregio Landelijk Wonen – extension project housing policy document
Ruimte voor Ruimte – quality framework and supervision
Zwolle Hanzenland – urban layout plan
Wien Flugfeld Aspern – Masterplan (invited competition)
Schiphol ‘Vlekkenplan’ – contribution to a strategic framework
London Wembley – spatial scenarios for a city block
Schiedam Nieuwe Damlaan – strategic vision
Almelo Indië – urban design concept for an industrial area transformation
Hoofddorp West – planning vision & housing environment study
Zeist Vogelwijk – detailed urban plan
North London Town Centre Enhancement – intensification study and design proposals
Alkmaar Schelphoek – Masterplan
Halfweg-Zwanenburg – planning vision
Rotterdam Pompenburg – urban design investigation
Amersfoort Nederberg – planning vision
Rotterdam Stadsregio Pakhuizen & Uitzicht – extension project housing policy document
Amsterdam Indische buurt – planning vision for urban renewal
Amersfoort Woonvisie – local housing strategy document


NS Helpdesk – consultation, urban design and regional visions
Den Haag Stationsbuurt HS – planning vision
Utrecht-Zeist A12-zone – regional vision
Luxembourg Porte de Hollerich – planning vision (invited competition)
Co-producent in de Zuidvleugel – essay
Lelystad Schouw Oost – urban design vision
Blaricummmermeent – spatial strategy (invited tender)
Metropopenstudie – research on metropolitan environments
Zuiderzeelijn Ontwikkelingsperspectieven – Masterplan and development scenarios
Spontaneous City – research proposal, planning vision
Leiden Groenoordhallengebied – urban design investigation
Leerdam Stationsweg Fase 1 – typological study
Flevoland Kaarten Contourennota – regional plan
Arnhem Rijnboog – Masterplan
Amsterdam Het Schouw Oost – urban design and service concept
Amsterdam Zuidelijk Veld Kolenkitbuurt – detailed urban design
Schiedam Schieveste-station-binnenstad – strategic vision
Bunnik-Houten-Werkhoven – study analysis and spatial scenarios
Antwerpen Eilandje – water plan and programmatic study
Amsterdam Ringspoorzone Kolenkitbuurt – detailed urban plan
Flevoland Toekomstperspectieven – regional planning vision
Utrecht Utopia Workshops – design study
Duivendrecht stationsomgeving – preliminary strategic planning scenario
Alkmaar Schelphoek – concept Masterplan


Anpin e-wharf Taiwan – competition entry
Haarlem 023 – Masterplan
Velsen NAM terrein – preliminary urban design
Vught Johan Frisolaan – urban layout proposal
Zeist Vogelwijk – urban renewal plan
Amsterdam Noord – feasibility study SS-Norway
Amsterdam Buurtfabriek Ruimzicht – urban framework plan and typological study
Almere Flevo Perspectieven – contribution to the Regional Action Plan
Amsterdam Overtoomse Veld – urban framework plan
Almere Buiten Oost 3KNS – development plan and example book
Luxury housing in the Dutch Delta Metropolis South – publication
Amsterdam Het Schouw – urban design
Zuiderzeelijn Prospects – Masterplan phase 1
Den Helder Stadshart – preliminary study for the Masterplan
Emscher Lippe Region – competition entry
Heerlen Meezenbroek, Schaesbergerveld en Palemig – Masterplan
Rotterdam Stadsregio – housing policy document
Rozendaal, locatie Rhedens Lyceum – scenarios and building typologies
Wonen à la carte – publication
Leiden Groenoorhallen – preliminary design
Amsterdam Jeruzalem – urban renewal plan (invited competition)
Alkmaar Schelphoek – development strategy
Amsterdam Bellamybuurt – planning vision and public space plan


Den Haag Kalvermarkt – design study for an inner-city block
Amsterdam Noordzijde Oosterdokseiland – urban design and public space design
Rotterdam Zuidplein – development scenarios
Amsterdam Kolenkitbuurt – urban renewal plan
Arnhem Rijnboog – concept Masterplan
Amsterdam Coen- en Vlothaven – urban design vision
Amsterdam AjaxCity – urban design investigation
Amsterdam ABN-Amro Rembrandtplein – conceptanalysis existing building
Waterford North Quays – urban plan (competition entry)
Ruimte voor Ruimte Kwaliteitskader – conceptual framework and analysis for rural housing
Amsterdam Entreegebied Paasheuvelweg – urban framework plan
Amsterdam Eenhoorn – plot study
Ruhrgebiet Impulse! – strategic Masterplan Emscher-Lippe region
Amsterdam Jan Toorop – visualisation and framework plan
Amsterdam Geuzenveld Zuid – urban design
Amersfoort Stadsentrees – analysis
Amsterdam Sportfondsenbad – urban design investigation
Amsterdam Sint Jacob – investigation of possibilities for revitalisation of a residential complex
Haaglanden – assessment of possibilities for consumer-friendly developments
Amsterdam Sloterplas Stadscentrum – study
Amsterdam GVB locatie – study for the transformation of an industrial area


Amsterdam Molenwijk – urban renewal plan
Kwaliteit Werklocaties – Dutch working areas research
De knoop voorbij – essay for publication “Leve(n)de Stad”
Legenda stads- en dorpsmilieus – classification report for urban environments
Delft Poptahof – urban survey to revitalise a post-war residential area
Haarlem Van Schalkwijk naar Schipholweg – preliminary urban design
Amsterdam Noordzijde Oosterdokseiland – sketch design for the Euronext-building
Amsterdam Westpoort – Masterplan for a data hotel
Enschede Boddenkamp – Urban design investigation Cobercoterrein e.o.
De Toekomst van het Wonen – contribution to a national exhibition ‘6,5 miljoen woningen’
Food Valley Region – competition entry E.O. Wijersprijsvraag (honourable mention)
Amsterdam IJdoornlaan – project investigation
Badhoevedorp dorpskern – planning vision
Amsterdam Amstel – design study for a multi purpose buiding ‘ Floating Space’
Amsterdam Het Schouw – urban design investigation
Amstelveen Bovenkerkerpolder – development scenarios
Amsterdam Overtoomse Veld “Jordaan van de 21e eeuw” – renewal plan
Amsterdam Chassébuurt – urban renewal plan
Noordpoort Drechtoevers – regional planning scenario
Amsterdam Mercatorpark – spatial and programmatic vision
Transforming Amsterdam, the Dutch way of redevelopment – exhibition & workshops in NYC
Amsterdam Confuciusplein – urban renewal plan and building typology
Woonmilieus en Stedelijke Vernieuwing Amersfoort – contribution to workshops on urban renewal
Amsterdam ABN-Amro Rembrandtplein – layout and programme for a prominent location
Amsterdam Delflandplein/Staalmanbuurt – development investigation


Amsterdam New Chinatown – spatial plan and programme
Almere Buiten Oost Stadsstrip – development plan
Lemmer-Delfzijl Kanaal – Masterplan for a 150 km long canal
Almere Woonvisie – contribution to the structure plan
Almere Zakencentrum – urban design exploration for a business centre near the station
Amsterdam Ligplaatsen Binnenvaart – water use plan
Huizen Holleblok – redevelopment vision
Amsterdam Noord Centrum – preliminary urban design and various studies
Almere Poort Euroquartier – design exploration
Diemen De Sniep – urban design scenarios
Amsterdam Floralocatie – urban design exploration
Amsterdam ABN-Amro Rembrandtplein – concept programme definition
Amsterdam ParkStad – revitalisation programme for the post-war garden cities of Amsterdam
Emscher Lippe Region NewPark – regional development strategy 4×4 (invited competition)
Zutphen – report on the skyline
Amsterdam Geuzenveld Zuid – urban design investigation
Leeuwarden Zuid – investigation of housing environments
Amsterdam Jan van Galengenerator – re-development (invited competition)
De woonwijk van de Toekomst – inspiration book for future neighbourhoods
Amsterdam De Eenhoorn – planning vision
Amsterdam Gein II – urban renewal plan
Wonen in de Deltametropool – publication
Amsterdam Eenhoorn – preliminary design


Amsterdam Nieuwendam Noord – urban renewal plan
Apeldoorn Woonmilieus – study on Urban environments
Corridor Amsterdam-Bedra-Venlo – ‘6 x Ontkoppeling’
Almere Hout – strategy ‘van centrum naar centraliteit’
Noord-Brabant – research on recreation and tourism
Amsterdam New Chinatown – study analysis Oosterdokseiland
Almere Hout, working in Almere – urban design vision
Amsterdam Schellingwoude – urban design investigation
Almere Zakencentrum – urban design
Amsterdam Westelijke Tuinsteden – workshops Vitale Stad
Almere Buiten Oost ‘Van Evenaar naar Parkway’ – urban design investigation
Apeldoorn Zuidbroek – issues report
Post War Housing – 20 options for re-use


Amsterdam Noordzijde Oosterdokseiland – study analysis for a location for the AEX stock exchange
Antwerpen Marina Willemdok – design for the marina and the public space
Utrecht Papendorp Transferium – study
Amsterdam New Chinatown – programmatic investigation
Amsterdam Noord – planning vision Waterlandplein
Gooi en Vechtstreek – contribution to the Area Action Plan
Almere Hout – investigation of possible environments
Amsterdam New Chinatown – preliminary urban design Oosterdokseiland
Amsterdam Noord Centrum – concept preliminary urban design


Milieutypen en Transformatie – Woonverkenningen MMXXX Wonen in 2030
Amsterdam Geuzenveld Buurt 9 – urban framework plan
Reisverslag van een expeditie langs twee netwerken – strategic examination
Amsterdam Noord Centrum – public space design
Amsterdam Nieuwendam Noord – planning vision
Urban Environments – international investigation part 1, Paris
Voorbeeldenstudie bedrijventerreinen – study on industrial sites
Amsterdam Polderweggebied – urban renewal study
Heerhugowaard Stationsgebied – urban renewal vision
Utrecht Kromhoutterrein – urban design vision


Amsterdam New Chinatown – urban design study for 2 locations
Amsterdam Geuzenveld Buurt 9 – urban design vision
Strategie voor Stedelijkheid – publication on urbanity
De consument van de ruimte – research for durable ure of space
Utrecht Talmalaan – redevelopment
Amersfoort noordzijde station – spatial and strategic principles
Amsterdam Amstelstation e.o. – renewal vision
Heerhugowaard Zuid – planning vision for the HAL hub


Amsterdam Westerdokseiland – density study
Hilversum – urbanisation possibilities 2005-2015
Den Haag Wateringse Veld – investigation of urban environments
Ruimte voor orde en chaos – exhibition on order and chaos
Amsterdam Houthavens – a vision on the developments
Stedelijke Milieus – research for the principles of urban environments


A Pattern Image, a typological tool for quality in urban planning – publication
Spijkenisse, meer dan de som der delen – urban design analysis
Amsterdam Osdorp – MAP Deelgebied 2
Almere Stadscentrum – urban design for the city centre (invited competition)
Interacties – investigation of the interaction between city and countryside
Milieudifferentiatie in de Randstad – environmental differentiation in the Randstad
Tilburg Moerenburg – urban plan for suburban housing


Amsterdam Centrum Amstel III – bottleneck analysis
Locaties aan Sporen – comparing analysis
Atlas of urban environments for VINEX-locations


Amsterdam Amstel I, II en Weespertrekvaart-Noord – issues report
Amsterdam Nieuw Oost (currently IJburg) – design for the urban space
Almere Stad – design study for the southern part of the city centre
Heerhugowaard-Alkmaar-Langedijk – urbanisation study
Amsterdam IJ-oevers – typologies for office buildings


Haarlemmermeer – concept for the renewal of the Area Action Plan Haarlemmermeer & Schiphol region
Amsterdam Centrum Amstel III – 4 scenarios
Amsterdam IJ-oevers – 4 studies for public space
Amsterdam Houthavens – water use plan


Urhahn, an office for urban design and strategy

Urban design is about more than drawing up well-considered plans. For us, its essence is about creating opportunities for residents, entrepreneurs and visitors. As an urban design office, we link plan and strategy inextricably to each other.


We listen, inspire, imagine and connect. To us, these are the core competences of the urban designer. Working together is part of our genetic makeup. Working with fellow professionals who understand financial feasibility, legal affairs and other areas of expertise. Involving residents and entrepreneurs is not an inconvenient hurdle in a planning process, but is in fact a great source of local knowledge that can enhance the quality of plans.


Integral vision of the Haarlem station area

The Haarlem public transport hub is reaching the limits of its capacity due to various challenges in the area. The Province of Noord-Holland and the Municipality of Haarlem see the optimization of the junction as a joint task, and have selected the collaboration of Urhahn, APPM and Goudappel-Coffeng to draw up an integrated vision for the area around Haarlem station.


The aim of the vision is to create an area that the residents and visitors of Haarlem are proud of. A nice place to stay, to start or end your journey. There are opportunities to make better use of this entrance to the city as a business location and to make it a business card for the city. One of the most far-reaching choices that has been made during the process is that the increase in bus traffic is no longer facilitated in the station area. A bus hub in Haarlem Southeast is proposed for this. Pedestrians and cyclists are given priority around Haarlem station.


Five ambitions, three variants

In the vision, five ambitions bridge the gap between mobility and a meaningful place in the city. We describe guiding statements for each ambition. These form the basis for further planning. Defining these ambitions has created clarity about the possible development variants. Some combinations are not possible.


Three variants for the development of the property and the layout of the inner-city side of the station area are in line with the ambitions. The names for the variants, “good marriage”, “good neighbours” and “good friends”, refer to the relationship between the bus terminal and buildings. The way of collaboration between these programmes is crucial for the choice of a variant. The ambitions form the foundation and the cement of the elaborations. A distinction is made between the bastion side and the town centre side, both as part of a representative entrance area of ​​the city. For the bastion side, the vision describes the most important urban design principles and for the inner city side we show various variants and examples.


Development strategy

The development strategy focuses on how development can take shape. The choice of a variant is determined by which stakeholders are willing and able to participate. In addition, short-term actions are described, the so-called “no regret measures”. These fit in all variants and can be tackled while no choice has yet been made for a variant. These concern, for example, the downgrading of the through route to Zandvoort and the organization of extra space for bicycle parking.

Development framework De Hoef West

The municipality of Amersfoort aims to transform De Hoef West from a business district into a modern and lively city district. Urhahn, in collaboration with Karres + Brands, drew up the development framework, which was adopted by the city council in September 2019.


De Hoef West is a transformation area with a lot of development potential. The area can accommodate up to 2,500 homes, in both new and existing buildings. The starting point is also the preservation of the economic significance: at least 5,000 people will continue to work in the area and existing education clusters grow into fully-fledged campus environments.


Many different developers are active in the area, each with their own pace, interests and ideas. The development framework ensures coherence in overarching ambitions. It also provides clarity about the development possibilities at the plot level. In consultation with the active parties, we have drawn up a set of spatial and programmatic rules.


We were previously involved in the Structural Vision for De Hoef-West and we have prepared a manifesto for the station area on behalf of a number of developers/owners.


Read more about this project and download the development framework on the website of the municipality of Amersfoort.



Areas where working, living and urban facilities come together are the most popular. But in practice, in the transformation of inner-city employment areas, housing usually wins, and mono-functional areas are re-emerging. On the FixTheCityMix platform Urhahn | urban design & strategy investigates which mechanisms in real estate development impede mixing of functions, in order to contribute to a more successful approach to mixed use developments. How can housing strengthen working?


Urhahn and transformation

Urhahn has been working on the transformation of the city for years. In recent years we have gained a lot of experience with the transformation of urban employment areas: from Amstel Business Park in Ouder-Amstel to Middelland in Woerden, from Oudorp in Alkmaar to De Hoef-West in Amersfoort. In almost all assignments in which we are involved, housing is the driver for transformation. Even before municipalities decide to draw up a vision, a framework or rules, there are initiatives. In an overstrained housing market, developers see plenty of opportunities in the areas of employment that are located in or close by the city centre.


Housing threatens to push away work

It is a challenge to steer towards (spatial) cohesion within the fragmented playing field of parties. No two tasks are the same, yet there are a number of overarching lessons to be learned from our experiences. In our research, we will be sharing those experiences. Perhaps even more important is our wonder about the state of affairs. Everyone agrees that creating a city in which working, living and urban facilities go together are the most vibrant and liveable cities. But in practice, the commercially strongest function, usually housing, pushes the other functions away, which means that monofunctional areas are once again emerging.


How do we make a mixed city?

Much has been written about the why of mixed areas. In the coming period, we will focus on the ‘how’. What mechanisms are hidden behind the world of real estate development that impede mixing of functions? What obstacles do governments experience? What is the secret to successful mixing? Who is paying for area transformation? We hope for an open debate beyond the level of nice references.


The chain letter

Urhahn debates with various experts. The interviews can be considered as a chain letter. Each interview leads to a series of new interviews with which we delve deeper into this issue. With this process we hope to gain new insights and inspiring ideas that will lead to a successful approach to mixing functions.



Areas where working, living and urban facilities come together are the most popular. But in practice, in the transformation of inner-city employment areas, housing usually wins, and mono-functional areas are re-emergencing. On the FixTheCityMix platform Urhahn | urban design & strategy investigates which mechanisms in real estate development impede mixing of functions, in order to contribute to a more successful approach to mixed use developments. How can housing strengthen working?


Urhahn and transformation

Urhahn has been working on the transformation of the city for years. In recent years we have gained a lot of experience with the transformation of urban employment areas: from Amstel Business Park in Ouder-Amstel to Middelland in Woerden, from Oudorp in Alkmaar to De Hoef-West in Amersfoort. In almost all assignments in which we are involved, housing is the driver for transformation. Even before municipalities decide to draw up a vision, a framework or rules, there are initiatives. In an overstrained housing market, developers see plenty of opportunities in the areas of employment that are located in or close by the city centre.


Housing threatens to push away work

It is a challenge to steer towards (spatial) cohesion within the fragmented playing field of parties. No two tasks are the same, yet there are a number of overarching lessons to be learned from our experiences. In our research, we will be sharing those experiences. Perhaps even more important is our wonder about the state of affairs. Everyone agrees that creating a city in which working, living and urban facilities go together are the most vibrant and livable cities. But in practice, the commercially strongest function, usually housing, pushes the other functions away, which means that monofunctional areas are once again emerging.


How do we make a mixed city?

Much has been written about the why of mixed areas. In the coming period, we will focus on the ‘how’. What mechanisms are hidden behind the world of real estate development that impede mixing of functions? What obstacles do governments experience? What is the secret to successful mixing? Who is paying for area transformation? We hope for an open debate beyond the level of nice references.


The chain letter

Urhahn debates with various experts. The interviews can be considered as a chain letter. Each interview leads to a series of new interviews with which we delve deeper into this issue. With this process we hope to gain new insights and inspiring ideas that will lead to a successful approach to mixing functions.


Do you have tips or suggestions?

Follow our progress on social media via #FixtheCityMix or go to www.fixthecitymix.nl

‘Activity scan’ Antwerp

Car use is gradually changing and the switch to shared cars and electric driving is already more self-evident than five years ago. This trend will continue to develop slowly, and at the same time there is an important task for Antwerp to make the city more climate-proof. With more and more residents in the city, there is a proliferation of available (public) space. That means not only making room for traffic, but also for playing, sports and meeting places – in such a way that it also benefits the climate.


Urhahn has drawn up a strategy for Antwerp that offers tools for making an active friendly city. It requires action, but it also shows that minor interventions are just as important as major interventions. You create an active city together. It requires good cooperation between different interest groups (mobility, green, sports, games) and between city and residents. Clear choices must be made that increase the readability of the different street profiles.


To show how you work on a more active friendly city, we have investigated four different neighbourhoods: Ekeren, Deurne, Universiteitsbuurt and Oud-Berchem. For each neighbourhood, together with stakeholders, we carried out an exercise scan of the neighbourhood, in which potentials and opportunities for active friendliness were uncovered.


These studies show that creating an active friendly city requires customization; every neighbourhood has different points of interest (the diagnosis) which lead to different ambitions. These choices have been made transparent in exemplary elaborations, which show the spatial benefit of the various interventions.

Development vision Overgoo, Leidschendam-Voorburg

Urhahn | urban design & strategy have drawn up a development vision for Overgoo. The area is on the eve of a transformation from a working area to a mixed living-working area. An area in which living, working and facilities come together and mutually reinforce one another. Impact Real Estate has various real estate positions in the area and the ambition to be the leading party in this transformation process. The municipality of Leidschendam-Voorburg and Impact have worked together with Urhahn on the development of a development vision for Overgoo.


Ambition and identity

The preconditions for redevelopment are set out in the development vision. In addition, the development vision explicitly addresses the overarching ambition: what type of area should Overgoo be in the future? What is the identity? For which target groups is the area interesting? How is the area connected to the rest of Leidschendam?


Careful deliberation

The transformation of the area will take time. It will be a step by step process, with the final image gradually coming into being. The development vision acts as a compass. It gives direction to developments over time and it ensures coherence and flexibility. This flexibility is necessary for complex transformation with various stakeholders and owners. The essence of the vision is robust and future-proof, in its elaboration it is adaptively able to move along with changing (market) circumstances. It forms an intermediate product on the road to more concrete planning, the basis for establishing the rules of development.


Co creation

There has been intensive dialogue with the stakeholders through broad work sessions. In addition to representatives from the municipality and the developer, entrepreneurs from the area and residents on the edge of the area also contributed their ideas. And through various open environment meetings, interested parties have given a critical and constructive shape and content to the vision. The municipality has worked simultaneously on principles for the development of Overgoo. The development vision is approved at the municipal level and provides the basis for further plan development.

Middelland, Woerden

Urhahn is working on behalf of the municipality of Woerden on the transformation of Middelland. After making ‘opportunity maps’ and a development vision, Urhahn has drawn up rules. The Structure Vision, which is made up of the Middelland development vision and the Middelland Noord development framework, was adopted in February 2019.


Urgency and potential

The Middelland work area in Woerden is struggling with structural vacancy and an outdated appearance, and the municipality’s ambition is to make transformation possible into a high-quality urban district. The potential for this is excellent: in the middle of the Randstad, near the characteristic city centre and well connected with the recreational qualities of the green heart.


Initiatives and rules …

Allowing new functions and a higher building density makes it attractive for entrepreneurs to start a redevelopment. There is, however, a side note: the quality must match the high-quality ambition level. That is why, in co-creation with owners and entrepreneurs, rules have been drawn up that new developments must meet, such as the appearance of the facade, plinth functions or parking solutions. In some places, co-operation between owners is aimed, and financial rules regulate, for example, the payment to an area investment fund.


We have developed a spider web diagram, which contains a number of main objectives in the area of ​​space, mobility, sustainability and programme. A developing party will never score 100 percent on everything, but the goal is that ultimately there is a result that is in balance. The spider web is a means of communication between the municipality and market parties, and a consideration framework at the same time.


Strengthen structure

In parallel, interventions have been proposed at the level of the framework that improve the quality of the urban space and the connection with the surrounding neighbourhoods. A new bridge, a connection to the centre and rules about the design of the private outdoor space help to strengthen the area as a whole and make it part of the city. The location and sequence of the transformation is determined by the dynamics of the market and might start with promising initiatives such as the redevelopment of the Town Hall or densification plans on the hospital grounds.

Havenstad-ZaanIJ: coherence in urbanization

On behalf of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, Urhahn has conducted a design study into the coherence in urbanization and accessibility in relation to the redevelopment of HavenStad-ZaanIJ.


Around 250,000 homes will have to be built in the Metropolitan Region of Amaterdam in the coming years; areas such as the Achtersluispolder, Hembrug and HavenStad play a crucial role in this. HavenStad offers a capacity of up to 70,000 homes and 58,000 jobs in an attractive, mixed area. The municipality of Amsterdam has drawn up a development vision for HavenStad and the municipality of Zaandam has also designated various development locations along the IJ. However, there are still uncertainties as to what type of living and working environments can be realized here and what effects they have on transport networks (rail, main road network and underlying network). Urhahn was asked to give advice on how this area can be gradually transformed, which choices in urbanization and infrastructure are interrelated and what possible positive or negative consequences this may entail.


Invest in transformation

The transformation of this large-scale work area into an attractive high-urban living / working area requires visionary plans, smart adaptive development strategies and different development speeds. The accessibility of the area will change considerably: from an area where freight traffic is dominant to an area that is inseparably linked to the urban areas of Zaanstad and Amsterdam for all modalities. This requires substantial investments in public transport, water connections, infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians and for adequate car infrastructure; investments by municipalities, province and central government.


Eight recommendations

Urhahn organized three workshops with employees from the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, the Interior and Kingdom Relations, the municipality of Zaanstad, the municipality of Amsterdam, Port of Amsterdam and ORAM. During the workshops the relationship between the area and urbanization ambitions and the multimodal accessibility were key focus. Discussions were held on the main developments, ambitions and policy documents relating to the transformation of the area, about the possible development scenarios and about the positive and negative effects of these development scenarios. Eight recommendations followed from the workshops, for which a development path forms the basis.

Living in a park in the middle of the city

Urhahn has been involved in the redevelopment of Weezenlanden Noord in Zwolle since November 2016. Commissioned by Housing Association Stichting Openbaar Belang, work has been done on the redevelopment and densification of the location while maintaining the current open and green character.


Until spring 2019, we developed an urban design in an interactive design process together with the housing association, municipality, province, water board and the current residents. We travelled through the neighbourhood with three ‘cargo bike moments’, so that we were easily approachable for residents, who therefore did not have to leave their houses in the evening.


By taking all interests into account at an early stage, a complex but rich task has arisen in which the urbanization ambitions of the city are integrally combined with tasks in the field of energy, mobility, climate adaptation and water safety. It also led to the adoption of the Centrum-Oost vision for Weezenlanden Noord by the municipality of Zwolle (November 2018). At the beginning of November 2018, a broader information meeting was held for residents, interest groups and other stakeholders in which the urban development plan and the vision of the municipality were presented.


The urban design for Weezenlanden Noord focuses strongly on connecting and reinforcing the green qualities of the location. The greenery on the Almelose Canal and the Singelgracht are connected to each other through a central green space in the area. A coherent and continuous ground level creates a welcoming entrance area for the city. Individual buildings on the Schuurmanstraat and the Almelose canal create a fordable green structure. The other buildings together form compound blocks with collective courtyards. The buildings consist of different building types and sizes, which reinforces the open and separate setting, now so characteristic of the area. Underneath part of the buildings (and partly under a deck) a parking garage is provided for residents and visitors. As a result, the area is car-free, which means that the public space can be optimally used for playing, meeting, cycling, walking and healthy exercising. The layout of the public space is climate adaptive due to large trees for shade and lowered parts for temporary water storage. The green roofs and courtyards also participate in the climate adaptive and water system. The public space has been partially increased and meets the new water retaining height of + 2.65 meters NAP.


During the process, Housing Association Stichting Openbaar Belang decided to launch a tender procedure to further develop the project. The urban development plan that was established in an interactive design process with the municipality and stakeholders was then passed on as an ambition to the contracting parties. In August 2019, the consortium of Nijhuis bouw B.V. – Explorius real estate development B.V. were selected as the winning party. The winning design by Karres + Brands & Barcode Architects is based on the urban development plan by Urhahn.

The gardens of Zandweerd, Deventer

On the north side of Deventer, on the site of the former ice rink and soccer fields, there is room for a beautiful new neighbourhood. The ambitions are high, in respect of the quality of this place. Near the city centre, steps away from the beautiful IJssel river and a place with beautiful trees and ponds. Our concept for the site is called The Gardens of Zandweerd: a neighbourhood with high ambitions with regard to sustainable energy, food production, water, mobility and collectivity. Small clusters of around 10-15 homes form a unit that perfectly matches a new energy concept whereby heat is collected and used collectively, the small clusters are linked and connected to external sources such as the adjacent sewage treatment plant. Sustainable energy generation also uses sources present at and around the location such as wind, sun and the currents of the nearby IJssel river. The neighbourhood is free of the use of gas. Other sustainability themes such as food production, social cohesion / meeting, sustainable mobility (a car-free neighbourhood) and sustainable water have also been worked out. The sustainability themes take shape in the ‘garden concept’, and opt for a conscious lifestyle. The concept is circular and offers all the space you need to build your own home or to build something together. There is also room for innovative living concepts such as tiny houses.


More information about current developments can be found (in Dutch) on the ‘op je stek’ website.

Dashboard for the added value of urbanization

The Board of Government Advisers have asked Urhahn and Rebel to develop a dashboard that provides insight into the social effects of urbanization on a regional scale. The Amsterdam Metropolitan Area has been used as an example. We developed urbanization principles that have been used as input for the dashboard. This is based on a task to add around 230,000 homes to the region. Urhahn developed three development perspectives for this study for the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area. The development perspectives form the input for the dashboard. The dashboard provides insight into the effects of developments near public transport hubs on sustainable mobility, agglomeration power, economic structure reinforcement, sustainability and sustainable energy. The development perspectives are distinguished by urbanization choices (inner-city, hubs, or on the outskirts of the city). Logical infrastructural measures are linked to urbanization choices. Each development scenario thus displays a coherent picture of urbanization and infrastructure choices. This has been worked out in various maps and schemes.

Can the bridge become part of the city?

The development of the Stork site in Noord is part of the Hamerkwartier. Eigen Haard housing association and the municipality of Amsterdam are working directly on the area development. The development is complex due to a number of elements that come together at the location: the monumental halls, including the Kromhouthal, the park on the banks of the IJ and the bridge over the IJ, the position of which is not yet certain.


The ambition is to transform this area into a high density urban neighbourhood with room for special programs that do not alienate Hamerkwartier and the surrounding neighbourhoods. The programming of the Kromhouthal is essential (concept development Kromhouthal, Urhahn 2017), but also the arrival of a high school and the desire to give existing tenants a permanent place in the area.


The public space plays an important role in the connection of the Hamerkwartier with the Vogelbuurt and IJplein. A bridge over the Motor Canal, good quays along the Motor Canal and bicycle routes are important in this, but also simple things like a place to fish on the IJ. When fitting in the bridge, should it land on the Eigen Haard lot, fitting in the landing of the bridge and overcoming the differences in height is a complicated but also exciting task. It is being investigated whether the bridge can become part of the city as much as possible, with the ramp becoming a sloping street.

The Story of Lelystad

The Story of Lelystad is the first step in the development of the environmental vision of Lelystad. An environmental vision (omgevingsvisie) is one of the new instruments within the Dutch Environment Act. In the environmental vision, every municipality regulates how it wants to develop in the future. This thus functions as an assessment framework for initiators and the municipality itself. The environmental vision replaces the structural visions and is really different: the realization is done in collaboration with everyone who is effected by the vision: residents, entrepreneurs, social organizations, politics, etc. Furthermore, other domains, such as the social domain, are integrated into a physical spatial plan.


Borders versus existing city

Lelystad is doing well. Economic centres such as Bataviastad, Lelystad Airport and Flevokust Haven are being developed on the outskirts of the city and attractive green residential areas on the outskirts of town attract new residents from outside. On the coast, the city seeks a relationship with the water to develop attractive, varied areas for living and recreation. There is space in Lelystad, and Lelystad has given these developments space.


The developments are good for Lelystad, but unfortunately the relationship with the existing Lelystad is still limited. The strategic main tasks therefore put a lot of emphasis on the development of existing residential areas and the City Centre. The 70s and 80s have had serious problems for years, the town centre is depreciated and has a lot of vacancies. For Lelystad these are the tasks for the coming years.


Four perspectives

In the Story of Lelystad, Urhahn portrayed the DNA of Lelystad and relevant trends and developments. The position in the MRA, energy transition, aging population and changing mobility offer opportunities but also challenges for the future of Lelystad. In an interactive process with stakeholders, we developed four perspectives for Lelystad: the scenic city, the city of water, the connected city and the active city. On the basis of the tasks and ambitions as they are mentioned in the Story of Lelystad, the municipality will start work on the elaboration of an environmental vision.

20 million for Eindhoven Central Station area

Urhahn has drawn up the strategic vision ‘Eindhoven Centraal’ for the municipality of Eindhoven. This vision serves as the basis for large-scale area and infrastructure investments in the city center and the station area. Based on this vision, the central government, the province of Noord-Brabant and the municipality of Eindhoven decided to invest around € 20 million in the large-scale development of the station environment, in December 2017. The international train to Düsseldorf becomes reality.


Brainport Eindhoven is doing well. The economic growth figures are impressive. In recent decades, a powerful economic ecosystem around technology, design and knowledge (TDK) has emerged in this region. Brainport Eindhoven is of great value for the Netherlands as an economic engine and explicitly positions itself as part of Brabantstad. In order to remain competitive and remain attractive for knowledge workers and companies, the city must improve the business climate of the city center. ‘Eindhoven Centraal’ forms the basis for this. The development of the station environment, the ‘International node XL’ is the major task: a high-quality station environment with (inter)national train connections, fast connections to Eindhoven Airport, distinctive living and working areas and beautiful public spaces. The sign of Brainport Eindhoven and a high quality urban environment that fits in with the high ambitions of the city.


The city center is developing rapidly, but still has insufficient autonomous appeal. An important task because ‘knowledge, skills and capital’ is not only seduced by a well-functioning economic ecosystem but also by a high quality of life, good connections, attractive urban living and working environments, a healthy city and an urban culture.


Eindhoven ‘International node XL’ is an important project for Brainport, for Brabant, but certainly also for the Netherlands as a whole. It is not for nothing that it is one of the crucial projects in the Spatial Economic Development Strategy (REOS). It contributes to the spatial-economic structure strengthening of the Netherlands. The station will be an efficient transfer machine: from international trains, national and regional trains, high-quality public transportation, first & last mile connections to (fast) cycling and walking routes. The station environment is the place for the new knowledge and services economy: a mixed, activity-friendly, attractive living and working environment. A high quality urban environment with room for living, working and relaxation.

The active city

A lot has being spoken about healthy, active cities, but how do you make them? We show this in our new book! Now available.

A city with pleasant places to play, a city that functions as one big sports school, a city where you can grow up and grow old safely, and a city where you can naturally cycle everywhere. The Active City shows how such a city looks like, offers inspiration, design tools and contains articles by different experts.

The growth of the city demands urban densification and transformation. Simultaneously, the public space and spaces for walking, cycling, sports and playing are under pressure. The densification issue offers opportunities as well; opportunities to make the city more active friendly. Amsterdam wants to be an active friendly city, a city that invites to move. A city that offers space for cyclists and pedestrians and a city where everyone – from young to old – can sport, play and relax.

In The Active City, Amsterdam examples a city where physically moving is a natural part of daily life. With smart interventions – from introducing tapping points and lockers alongside running routes, up to making schoolyards more public – Amsterdam works on a more active city for all inhabitants, visitors and employees. A metropolis can also be a cyclist friendly city.

With contributions from amongst others Marco te Brömmelstroet, Elger Blitz and Vincent Kompier, activating inhabitants in the public realm is shown from different perspectives. The book offers inspiration and designtools for citymakers, designers and other professionals that work on improving the city on a daily base.

The book is unfortunately sold out, but it can be viewed here (or read the dutch edition):


Organic area development Oostenburg Amsterdam

Transformation into a mixed use area

Housing Association ‘Stadgenoot’ acquired the artificial island Oostenburg, with the intention to develop a mixed use area with a wide variety of developers. Anyone with entrepreneurial spirit can participate. And everyone is entrepreneur: resident too are participants in making city. The challenge? Developing a plan that facilitates gradual, organic development with a small grain and a mix of working and living. The principles of the spontaneous city are being put to practice in Oostenburg.


Flexibility versus security
In the planning process a balance is to be found between security for the neighbours – both round and in the area – and providing freedom in development. In the workbook the ambitions and development path were captured. Keywords are: open and enterprising, open towards the city, open to the water, open to everyone. Entrepreneurial, with the typical Amsterdam ratio of 1:1 between living and working, with room for entrepreneurship in the broadest sense of the word. Subsequently, the framework of streets and the basic principles were defined for development.


Organic development and the zoning plan

How to define a zoning plan that meets organic area development? Along with the urban planners of the Central District we proposed spatial constraints. In three sessions in Pakhuis de Zwijger we collected information from future residents and the neighbourhood. Their input changed the plan: it adapts more to the neighbourhood and at the same time it offers more flexibility.


The next step is the design of public space and development of passports for the plots. The industrial identity forms the leading theme for the public space: emphasis on the utilization of space by residents and entrepreneurs, with industrial pavement where cars are only guests. The plot passports always provide a balance between freedom in development, and consistency and security.


From ambition to city

The workbook, delivered in March 2012, defines the ambitions and main features of the plan. With the translation by the central city district into a memorandum of principles, the ambitions of Stadgenoot became the ambitions of the city. In collaboration with Urhahn the general zoning plan was developed. The framework conditions and the ambitions for the public space were laid down in the guidebook, summer 2014. Currently Urhahn works on the subdivision plan.


How Urhahn works

Our philosophy is based on the principles of the Spontaneous City, but each assignment is different. That’s why there’s no such thing as an unchanging Urhahn recipe. We tailor our approach, our team and the possible involvement of other experts to suit each assignment. That enables us to work with everybody involved to draw up plans, to get everybody committed, and to ensure everybody supports the final result.


For us, every project is unique. A number of recurring elements characterise our way of working. We always work closely with clients and stakeholders through working sessions, studios and other interactive methods. In addition, we involve various disciplines. Listening carefully is a basic skill required by urban designers, enabling them to incorporate the story behind the assignment. We also work closely with local authorities to smoothen the decision-making process.


Read more about our philosophy of the spontaneous city, meet our team and our clients, see with whom we work together, or read about the three decades of experience of Urhahn | urban design & strategy.

What do we offer?

We are at our best when area development has not yet been precisely defined, yet there is an intuitive sense that something is possible. We are, of course, more than willing to help you work out a development strategy if a plan already exists. Issues of concern include the involvement of parties, the speed of development, and dealing with the uncertainties that are part and parcel of every development process.


We feel at home at any scale, whether it’s a region or city, or a district or neighbourhood. We also master the subtleties of urban design in terms of public space and housing typologies.


We are working on a series of area development projects, ranging from regional visions to development strategies, from area concepts to plans defining the appearance of development, from master plans to sketch designs for public space, and from urban design plans to bid books.


We are expert at leading workshops and regularly address congresses and symposiums. On occasion, we also take on a supervisory role during the execution of a plan. We work on behalf of both public and private parties.



Urhahn | urban design & strategy

Henri Polaklaan 42 – 1018 CT Amsterdam – The Netherlands

+ 31 20 421 74 40 – info@urhahn.com – www.urhahn.com

Follow us on Twitter @spontanestad


Chamber of Commerce (KVK Amsterdam) 33226810 – VAT number (“BTW”) NL807338722B01

IBAN: NL14ABNA0445968672 – BIC: ABNANL2A


Download our Privacy Statement (pdf in Dutch, September 2018)


Job opportunities: Urhahn occasionally offers internships to Dutch speaking creative and ambitious urban design/architecture students of university or post-graduate level. Experience with Autocad, Vectorworks and Illustrator is desired. Interested? Please email your motivation, CV and portfolio to Jessica Tjon Atsoi (jessica@urhahn.com).


Colophon: this website is designed by Urhahn and built by Grip Multimedia.

Tess Broekmans

Tess enjoys working with residents and entrepreneurs in the knowledge that users know an area best. In her opinion, city development is about making cities full of vitality, based on existing economic and social strengths. She views design as a means rather than a goal. Her strength lies in formulating an assignment and finding practical solutions to complex problems. Tess is a specialist in the field of inner-city development. She embraces the challenge of inclusive and complex urban projects such as central areas. She offers a broad view of the city and, thanks to an abundance of experience, she is highly knowledgeable about housing, retail and accessibility.


Tess studied urban design at Delft University of Technology and then worked for the Spatial Planning Department in Amsterdam. In addition to her urban design work, she is a visiting lecturer at the Amsterdam Academy of Architecture and at the University of Lund in Sweden. She is also a member of CAWA, the Amsterdam municipal committee for studios and living/working facilities in the creative sector.


Send Tess an email or call her: +31 20 421 7440


Sjoerd Feenstra

Sjoerd is a capable and communicative project manager who focuses on collaboration. Sjoerd has over ten years of experience as a creative supervisor and leader of complex projects involving various stakeholders and often conflicting interests. His quality lies in reconciling differing perspectives and maximising creative energy. This results in widely supported, innovative and practical solutions. Sjoerd puts people first, and design and technical solutions are subordinate. Thanks to his strong analytical ability, he knows better than anyone how to structure and deepen complex projects.


Sjoerd is one of the motivational figures behind the philosophy of the spontaneous city. As co-author, he compiled the publication ‘Vormgeven aan de spontaneous city’ (PBL & Urhahn, 2012), about experiences with organic area development, and he lectures frequently on this theme. In addition, he lends substance to the ‘Urbanisator’ concept that tackles vacant office properties. By forging new coalitions between market and government parties, he is able to put the spontaneous city into practice. Sjoerd studied social geography in Groningen.


Send Sjoerd an email or call him: +31 20 421 7440


Professional network

Network of people and offices
Our network consists of people and offices active in related areas of expertise such as financial planning, sustainability, participation and community building, legal affairs and structural engineering.

A few of the experts with whom we have worked together:


Who are we?

Everybody at Urhahn has their own area of expertise. With us, you will encounter designers with an eye for detail as well as strategists who can grasp the whole picture. Team leaders with a wealth of experience alongside young talents. Our team consists of project managers, designers and draftsmen. We also employ our own graphic designer because we attach great importance to the visual quality of our products. We share our passion for our work and are socially responsible. Tess Broekmans, Ad de Bont and Sjoerd Feenstra head our tight-knit team.


Meet our team:

Tess Broekmans – partner / urban designer

Ad de Bont – partner / urban designer

Sjoerd Feenstra – partner / strategic advisor

Jessica Tjon Atsoy – project manager / urban designer

Maarten Lankester – project manager / landscape and urban designer

Wendy van Kessel – project manager / urban designer

Frits Erdmann – project manager / urban designer

Rick Groeneveld – urban designer

Lieke Robben – urban designer

Milan Oosterling – urban designer

Mae-Ling Stuyt – urban designer

Sophie van Eeden – landscape designer

Harshita Vishway – urban designer

Alain Blom – urban designer

Josje-Marie Vrolijk – graphic designer

Noëmi Hartvelt – office manager


CV’s of all of the team members can be viewed on our Dutch website.

Who do we work for?

Our most important Dutch clients are central and local government, housing associations, property developers and community organisations. Area development means that these clients join forces to initiate urban transformations and developments. In addition, Urhahn regularly works for clients abroad.


Municipalities: Aalsmeer, Alkmaar, Almelo, Almere, Alphen aan den Rijn, Amersfoort, Amstelveen, Amsterdam, Apeldoorn, Arnhem, Beverwijk, Delft, Den Haag, Den Helder, Dordrecht, Eindhoven, Emmen, Enschede, Groningen, Haarlemmerliede, Haarlemmermeer, Harderwijk, Heemskerk, Hoogeveen, Hoorn, Katwijk, Langedijk, Leiden, Maassluis, Papendrecht, Rijswijk, Rotterdam, Schiedam, Stede Broec, Stichtse Vecht, Tiel, Tilburg, Tynaarlo, Uden, Utrecht, Veldhoven, Velzen, Wageningen, De Wolden, Zaanstad, Zoetermeer, Zwolle


Regions: Bestuur Regio Utrecht (BRU), Regio Haaglanden, Netwerkstad Twente, Samenwerkingsverband Regio Eindhoven (SRE), Regio West-Friesland, Samenwerkingsverband Regio Holland Rijnland, Stadsregio Amsterdam, Stadsregio Rotterdam


Provinces: Flevoland, Gelderland, North-Brabant, North-Holland, Overijssel, Utrecht


National authority: Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, General Government Real Estate Agency


Developers: ABC Management Groep, AM Concepts, Amvest, Ballast Nedam, BAM Vastgoed, Blauwhoed, Boele & van Eesteren, BPF Bouwinvest, Breevast Projecten bv, Burgfonds, Deltaforte, De Eendragt c.v., ERA Bouw, Fortis, HBG Vastgoed, Hendriks Bouw en Ontwikkeling, Hopman Interheem, Kristal projectontwikkeling, Libema, Lingotto Vastgoed, Maapron, NS stations, OPP/BNG, RaboBouwfonds, SADC, Schiphol Real Estate, Slough Estates Group (SEGRO), Ter Steege Vastgoed, TCN Property Projects, Verwelius, Volker Wessels


Housing associations: De Alliantie, AWV, Delftwonen, Eigen Haard, Kombinatie 86, Parteon, De Principaal, PWV Wonen, Rijswijk Wonen, Rochdale, SCW, Stadgenoot, Staedion, Stichting DUWO, Stichting Woonbron, SVU Wonen, Woningstichting PWS, Woonbedrijf, Ymere, ZVH


Other Dutch clients: Bank Ten Cate & CIE NV, Bestuursplatform Masterplan Noordzeekanaalgebied, CityCorp, Consortium Overstad, Fontis Amsterdam, Gebiedsonderneming Binckhorst, Gemeentelijk Havenbedrijf Amsterdam, Industrieschap De Plaspoelpolder, Gideonsbende (Amsterdam West), Van Keulen Bouwmaterialen, LAGroup, Ontwikkelingsbedrijf Spoorzone Delft, Ontwikkelingsbedrijf Noord-Holland Noord, Planbureau voor de Leefomgeving (PBL), Platform31, Projectbureau Stadshavens Roterdam, Projectbureau Zuidvleugel, Project Management Bureau (PMB) Amsterdam, SADC, Startgoed Amsterdam, Taskforce Ruimtewinst (TFR), Transforte


International clients: Agentschap voor maritieme dienstverlening en kust (BE), City of Aalst, City of Antwerpen, City of Bedford, Community Builders U.S.A., Curaçao Port Authority (CPA), English Partnerships, GLA (Greater London Authority) Government Office for London (GOL), City of Harbin, City of Hasselt, ICA Mexico, London Borough of Barking & Dagenham, London Borough of Croydon, London Development Agency (LDA), Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth Urban Regeneration Company Ltd, City of Luxemburg, City of Nieuwpoort, Ciudad de Oaxaca de Juárez, Peterborough City Council, Salford City Council, NV de Scheepvaart, City of Shenyang, Transport for London (TfL), Vlaams Bouwmeester, Province of West-Flanders, City of Vienna


Initiative takers: Van Keulen Vastgoed, Brian Boswijk



Job opportunities

Urhahn is currently not looking for new team members. Urhahn offers internships to Dutch speaking, creative and ambitious urban design/architecture students of university or post-graduate level. Experience with Autocad, Vectorworks and Illustrator is desired. Interested? Please email your motivation, CV and portfolio to Jessica Tjon Atsoi (jessica@urhahn.com).


Ad de Bont

As an urban designer and project manager, Ad has a wealth of experience in directing integral project teams. He brings together design, research and process at both urban and regional level, and at the level of urban design visions and development strategies. Ad operates comfortably in the decision-making process and frequently takes on the role of enthusiastic chairman of policy-making and interactive working sessions.


Ad is author of the book The Active City and co-founder of the Platform for Healthy Design and advises clients. He is an advisor to clients, gives lectures and conducts design research into the healthy design of our living and working environment. Ad is guest lecturer at the Academie van Bouwkunst Amsterdam.


Send Ad an email or call him: +31 20 421 7440



‘A Pattern Image’ and ‘Strategie voor stedelijkheid’ were essential reading for students at Delft University of Technology. ‘Wonen in de Deltametropool’ and ‘Wonen A La Carte’ also sold well in bookstores. We invested heavily in research into urban quality, building typologies and types of residential areas. The findings of these studies establish a solid foundation for our urban design work. In recent years we have focused our research on the development of the Spontaneous City. Our latest research involves the Active City.


Publications Urhahn

  • De beweegvriendelijke stad / The Active City
  • Strategiewijzer voor binnenstedelijke transformaties
  • Vormgeven aan de Spontane Stad
  • De Spontane Stad
  • Luxury housing in the Dutch Delta Metropolis South
  • Wonen à la carte
  • Wonen in de Deltametropool
  • Strategie voor Stedelijkheid
  • A Pattern Image


3 decades of Urhahn

Urhahn is named after its founder Gert Urhahn. After many years with the Department of Spatial Planning in Amsterdam, Gert was one of the first to establish an independent urban design office in the Netherlands in the early 1990s. After the office grew too big for his home in the south of the city, it relocated in 1996 to De Ruyterkade. From there it moved to Jan Luijkenstraat, Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal and Laagte Kadijk, before reaching its current location on Henri Polaklaan.


In 2010 Gert transferred responsibility of the office to a new generation, and focused on lectures, workshops and advice abroad, with The Spontaneous City International (SPcitI).


Even so, Gert’s influence goes beyond the office name. His quest to find a balance between order and chaos in urban design and his sources of inspiration are still important motives for the office. We are all members of the Urhahn family.


Design Workshop

Urhahn prefers to engage the client or other stakeholders in the planning process. In addition, once a week we discuss one or two ongoing projects with the whole team. This allows us to share the knowledge within the office, and to elaborate the projects. Everyone participates – board to interns – and sometimes we invite an expert to lecture or discuss about a specific topic. With this unique formula, we utilize the creativity and knowledge within the office to the max!


Vision for Hoorn city centre: an innovative process approach

What does the future of the centre of Hoorn look like?

Hoorn, a former town of the Dutch East India Company, boasts a wonderful historic centre that is undergoing sweeping redevelopment. For example, the station area is being tackled and a big urban beach is under construction. Combined with social trends such as an ageing population, changing shopping behaviour and increasing popularity of town-centre living, this forces us to consider the future of the centre of Hoorn. Who lives there? What employment opportunities are available? How accessible is the city centre? And what are the concrete projects that the municipality plans to implement?


More space for flexibility

The historical character of the town centre is and remains the most important core quality. But Hoorn wants to create space for qualitative growth: more space for small-scale, well-integrated infill schemes and above all, more space for flexibility. The time has gone when a city centre was made up of a large shopping district surrounded by nothing but residential neighbourhoods. Hoorn wants to create space for mixed-use schemes, more dynamism and more space for new developments. A city centre that grows in response to urban needs. In addition, Hoorn wants to tackle public space. The centre of Hoorn remains easily accessible by car, but a crucial opening in the system creates lots of space for pedestrians and cyclists. Shared space is the point of departure in the city centre.


Intensive collaboration between the city and municipality

We have opted for an innovative process approach. We do not advocate planning in which the opinion of the ‘populace’ is solicited after decisions have been taken, but an intensive process shaped by innovative instruments. At its core is the ‘week of the city centre’. During this week, Facebook polls are held every day. More than 1000 responses helped to shape this vision, which is the result of numerous conversations with residents, entrepreneurs and visitors to the city centre. That occurred not only digitally, but also is the form expert meetings and three ‘city centre labs’ held in special venues in the city. Another feature of note is that the vision was drawn up in close collaboration with the municipality: from the formulation of the vision to the elaboration of its substance. For example, the texts were mainly drafted by the municipality and the images produced by Urhahn.


A performance-oriented vision

The vision is aimed at implementation and concluded with a concrete list of measures that can be implemented from 2016 onward. This begins for example with the closing off (on a trial basis) of central areas such as Kerkplein. Moreover, the vision indicates how it can be carried through into municipal policy.


Participation process in Hoofddorp

Open planning process

Hoofddorp is gradually evolving into a resilient and more vibrant city that residents and entrepreneurs feel more attached to and involved in the developments. The area between the centre of Hoofddorp and the station plays an important role in realizing this ambition. A prominent position is occupied by Beukenhorst West, an office district with a 50% vacancy level.


The municipality works in an open process, based on the intensive involvement of residents, owners, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders, on the design and development of Hoofddorp Centraal. The sport hall on Prins Hendriklaan is the epicentre of this process. Building blocks for the development strategy were gathered during three working sessions supervised by Urhahn. In a follow up, Urhahn teamed up with those involved and with Stadkwadraat, landscape architects Dijk&co (park design) and Stipo (office complex) to draw up the design and development strategy for Hoofddorp Centraal.



The challenges are the creation of a logical and attractive pedestrian and cycle route between the city centre and station via the fruit gardens, the wooded Wandelbos, the tennis courts and Beukenhorst-West, the transformation of Beukenhorst-West into a mixed urban area, and the development of the station into a full-fledged transport interchange.


Development plan and development strategy

The development plan indicates the desired future character of Hoofddorp Centraal. This character is determined by a number of factors: functions, the appearance of buildings, dynamism, the quality of public space, the relevance for Hoofddorp as a whole and the region. The development plan is attractive and offers guidance for initiatives that contribute to the area’s ambitions. The development is therefore not a blueprint but consists of a main spatial and programmatic structure.


The development strategy responds to how the ambitions for Hoofddorp Centraal can be realized. It is about new forms of collaboration, about choosing priorities, about steps towards realization, about municipal investments that lead to investments from others and vice versa.

The new savannah in Emmen

An empty zoo in the city centre

The zoo in Emmen has relocated. Since the new zoo on the edge of the city opened in 2016, Emmen has a 12-hectare landscape in the city centre at its disposal. The centre of Emmen already has plenty of spaces and places for encounters: the Markt, the new Raadhuisplein. What can a park add to them?


A simple concept

Through intensive collaboration with the municipal project group, Urhahn developed a concept notable for its simplicity. At the heart of the existing zoo is the savannah: an open space separated from the surrounding paths by a ditch. This space will be retained and become the central open space in the park, enclosed by a pedestrian and cycle route. The ditch allows the savannah to be used in various ways: for grazing sheep in the winter, and as a bathing lawn and festival site in the summer. Bridges over the savannah mean the site is accessible and can also be closed off.


Space for initiative

The link between the market and the savannah is created by the cultural district. Here is space for the centre for visual arts, studios, music lessons and suchlike. They can start in the existing buildings and continue to grow in the new development. A lot more space for initiatives is available in the south-western corner of the park. A vital condition is that the green character of the park is respected and that initiatives contribute to the park’s vibrancy. That could include all sorts of things: a day-care centre, company showroom, education, restaurants, cafés. Emmen invites everybody to come up with ideas to turn the park into a lively and attractive place in the city.


Previously, Urhahn has drafted a vision for the entire centre of Emmen.


Innovation through interaction

The partners from the Northern Randstad, Southern Randstad, the Brainport region and the Central Government are drawing up a Spatial Economic Development Strategy (REOS). This is aimed at strengthening the international competitiveness of the Netherlands. Within this project, Urhahn has conducted design research into Interaction Environments.


This study underlines the importance of encounters and interaction for innovation, and therefore for the competitiveness of the Netherlands in the international arena. Urhahn outlined the challenge for the Netherlands by distinguishing five types of environment, such as station districts, campuses and city centres. With a combination of desk research, analysis of various national and international best practices and design research, Urhahn drew up a list of ten lessons that can help to strengthen interaction environments. These lessons are easy to understand and to apply on location, giving the REOS a toolbox that can genuinely improve quality.

Strategy indicator for urban transformation

In 2015 Urhahn completed a study of the new urban design instruments. The study can be seen as a sequel to the book ‘The Spontaneous City’ and focuses on concrete strategies and instruments for building a spontaneous city. The study forms part of the programme ‘Urban Development without Land Revenue’ from the Creative Industries Fund NL.


Practice at the centre: experimenting and reflecting

Many local authorities and development parties are in the process of defining other ways to make plans. Plans that take various uncertainties into account. Can you take time? Is there interest from the market? Is there an alternative to the often-unavoidable building envelope and land development that are guiding factors in new initiatives?


At the core of the study was practice: various practical examples were analysed and design research was also carried out on three locations. This offers plenty of insight into the strategies currently deployed in area development. A clear strategy did not materialize everywhere: new approaches often emerged, however, while experiments with innovative strategies were sometimes conducted.


The study focused on the process of arriving at a strategy. What approach is most appropriate for a location? The choice for a particular strategy depends to a great extent on the necessity, possibility and/or desire for plenty of guidance. To assess this properly, it is important to chart the potential of a location, the urgency of a development and the degree of influence exercised on the development by the planner.


A strategy indicator as a practical tool

What type of plan are you making and what strategy do you choose? When do you appoint a project manager? Or is a framework plan with plot types preferred? The study resulted in a clear assessment framework for choices of this kind: a strategy indicator. Not a conclusive indicator but a tool for conducting the right discussion. The key concepts of ‘potential’, ‘urgency’ and ‘influence’ have been elaborated in this strategy indicator.


A rich harvest: six strategies

Six strategies lie at the heart of the study. Every strategy contains a number of instruments: spatial, financial, organizational and legal. A strategy is not a fully materialized approach, but should be seen as a method. Achieving completeness is not an aim in this study, for more strategies could no doubt be imagined. These are the results at present. This study is not specifically aimed at one party. Everybody who works in area development can recognize and enrich their role. The urban planner is just one of the players involved. Looking at the profession in a broad way provides greater insight into when a spatial instrument is and isn’t relevant.


The Strategy indicator for urban transformation (book, PDF, in Dutch) or a summary on A3 (in Dutch, PDF) is available for download here.

Living with water: water safety and climate resistance in the IJssel-Vecht Delta

From harvest to realisation

IJssel-Vecht Delta is an economic growth region with an attractive business climate. But it is also a sensitive place in the water system. The area is influenced by both the IJsselmeer and the rivers IJssel, Vecht, Sallandse Weteringen and Zwarte Water. It is located on the border between the higher and lower lying regions of the Netherlands. Long-term perspectives were drawn up in 2013 to find out what the challenge is and what directions development could take. A lot has happened since then, and much has been learned from pilot projects and national policy. The aim of the strategy is to make the most of the results, present them in a comprehensible manner, and map out a follow-up strategy.


Harvest document and work studios

All insights gained have been gathered into a so-called Harvest Document, which provided the basis for the choices that could be made in the successive work studios. Do we opt to strengthen the main water system? Of preferably to design a water-defence landscape or raised mounds (known as ‘terpen’)? These choices were explored in three large working sessions attended by all official stakeholders and many market parties. In addition, the project considers implementation: because who is going to plant and maintain the greenery in a street profile? Participants were inspired to search widely for solutions by means of maps of opportunities featuring concrete reference projects from all around the Netherlands.


Connect and convey

The ‘Water safety and climate resistance strategy in the IJssel-Vecht Delta’ is a compact book that conceals a world of decision-making and policy. The substance of the strategy and the roles and responsibilities of the parties involved have been determined. This is summarized in handsome and clear maps. In addition, a brochure was designed to make it easy for aldermen and others involved to tell the story. This meets one of the most important goals of the project: explaining a complex story simply using words and images.


The added value of water in the ‘MIRT’

Part of this study  is a regional session in which the added value of integrating water and MIRT (space and infrastructure) is being explored in research by design. We do this in the area Varik- Heesselt. The lessons from this session will be translated into generic recommendations.


Posted on: 15-03-2015

For more information: Ad de Bont

Intensification or expansion of the port area?

Intensification is the leading theme in theVision North Sea Canal Area 2040, drafted by Urhahn. It shows how existing spatial qualities can be preserved whilst providing more space for development and thereby strengthening the international competitiveness of the metropolitan region of Amsterdam. To provide insight in the intensification for the coming years, Urhahn in association with Decisio developed the monitor and a baseline measurement.


Indicators for spatial development

To determine the right indicators for spatial development the pilot project IJmond-Zuid was selected. In a series of interviews with the Workgroup Space Intensification NZKG the most relevant indicators and methodology for a qualitative characterization of area’s were developed. The ideas were tested during a conference where many stakeholders from the region were present.


Strengthening metropolitan economy
The monitor and a baseline measurement  of IJmond-Zuid form the basis for the monitoring of the entire North Sea Canal area. Using the developed methodology, a periodic measurement can be carried out in an unambiguous way to see whether, why and how developments occur in the area. These insights enable the Governance Platform to make decisions to increase intensification or to allow expansion of the port area, providing space to strengthen the metropolitan economy.


Resident participation in Naarden

Urhahn is working on a vision for the Amersfoortsestraatweg in Naarden. We do this on behalf of the City of Naarden and in close collaboration with the well-organized residents, entrepreneurs and visitors in and around the area. User participation is the key to a broad support of the vision.


Lack of cohesion

The area between the roundabout on the Godelindeweg and bridge at the Fortress is highly dynamic but also incoherent. The dynamics is due mainly to the regional functions in the area like sports, health care institutions and a thriving supermarket, but the relationship between these functions is missing. The area looks messy and at peak times the car dominates the view. Now a number of real estate developments appear that could realize a improvement of the spatial quality.


The role of Urhahn

The vision will be the guiding compass for development in the coming years. Urhahn works together with Hans Karssenberg (STIPO) to shape the contents of the vision. Residents, users and other stakeholders are closely involved and with the use of big inspiration meetings in spring 2015, the vision is realized. Simultaneously the residents of Naarden get the chance to have their voices heard via the online platform amersfoortsestraatweg.nl.


What to do with the oversupply of employment areas?

Urhahn has developed a methodical approach and a regional strategy. Through a market-driven approach we have determined which locations in the region of West Friesland have market potential and which don’t.


Strong oversupply

West Friesland is facing a substantial oversupply of plan capacity for employment areas. The need appears to be significantly lower than estimated in the past. The clients were looking for an independent consultant who would come to objective advice based on knowledge of the market. A sensitive project because obviously there has been invested a lot of money in the land and planning. We note that this “over-supply problem” plays in many Dutch regions, whether it is about residential, retail or employment areas.


Objective proposals

In this project Urhahn has developed an approach in which we come to objective proposals through a market-oriented approach: which locations are suitable and which locations have little market potential? Analyzing the qualitative market demand leads to surprising insights. We talked to all kinds of enterprises in the region. This bottom-up approach gives a good picture of their wishes regarding location and thus the chances of development of the various industrial zones in the region. This approach is likely to succeed and does more justice to the spatial economic reality than a traditional quantitative top-down planning in which every municipality will have its own employment area. This project represents our approach: think from the side of the user and look at local and regional opportunities!


Building support

In our approach we organized interactive sessions in which we worked with large maps and models. Ultimately this has led to acceptance of the plans by the involved municipalities. We are currently drawing up the regional strategy.

More quality, less expansions

Developing an attractive centre

The Streekhof is regionally known as a comfortable, attractive shopping mall with a broad mix of shops and good parking. Years ago, the municipality had the ambition to significantly expand the Streekhof. Times have changed, however. The ambition has shifted into a qualitative expansion that contributes to an attractive town centre for the long term.


Opinion of the market

Urhahn sought cooperation on this project with Peter Oussoren (Tenman) and Ronald van Velzen (City Works). The first step was a market consultation. Developers, investors, retailers and council members were asked how they see the market. This was done through interviews and in a workshop with shopkeepers and councilors. This has led to a tightened ambition: more quality, less additional m2.


Urban vision and development competition

The new ambition is translated into an urban vision. A vision with a limited expansion, a nice completion of the mall, good parking, additional functions and a car-free village square. This vision is the basis for a development competition that starts in the coming months. Interested parties are challenged to achieve an attractive proposal (ambition and offer). Urhahn is working on the plans for public space.


How promising is an IBA for the Schiphol region?

The municipalities of Haarlemmermeer and Amsterdam commissioned Urhahn to explore the opportunities of the (german) planning tool IBA for the Schiphol region. The concept of the IBA has proven itself more than once in the German history. An IBA turns out to be much more than just an exhibition: it represents long term commitment and a structural quality improvement in areas. It is a method that generates major private investments with relatively small public budgets.


Urhahn analyses the factors of success and failure of some German IBA’s, before exploring promising theme’s and models for the Schiphol region.  This contributes to the decision whether or not, and how, to continue the initiative.


News item published: 01-03-2015


Development strategy Valkenburg: always finished

The former naval airbase Valkenburg will transform in several decades to a sustainable residential district composed of 5.000 houses, a business district and numerous recreational services. Urhahn shaped the development strategy, based on the masterplan. It addresses several issues: on which locations does the development begin? (the so called ’source points’). How can these source points be expanded further? Which role does the existing and future landscape play? And how to secure a ‘final quality’ at any point of time during the development?


Interactive process

The development strategy emerged from close collaboration with experts and stakeholders from the City of Katwijk and Central Government Real Estate Agency. During the working sessions, organised and led by Urhahn, the content was further developed out of the many disciplines and viewpoints. The thematic working sessions formed the building blocks of the strategy.


Preparations for implementation

The strategy has been adopted by the steering committee, consisting of the municipal council of Katwijk and the project directors of the Central Government Real Estate Agency. It forms the basis for continuation. The first ’source points’ and the framework of the plan will be prepared for construction, the first homes are expected to be completed in 2018. Currently Urhahn develops the first partial plans.


Healthy urbanisation

A city can contribute in two ways to the health of its inhabitants: by minimising health risks and by optimising health opportunities. A city can encourage healthy behaviour. Healthy urbanisation: an appeal to consider health benefits in all urban developments.


A long tradition

Urban design and health share a lengthy history together. Both the Housing Act and the Health Act were drawn up at the start of the 20th century: health ideals lay at the very heart of modern city planning. Hygiene conditions were poor in run-down urban neighbourhoods, good sewerage was lacking, and many people suffered from tuberculosis. Better and healthier living conditions led to the development of modern urban planning and architecture. The residential districts of the pre-war era are a legacy of that movement. Experiments with healthy neighbourhoods were conducted at home and abroad, leading to the English garden cities, the German Siedlungen, and the modernist experiments in Dutch cities. In the 20th century this relation between health and urban planning has taken many forms: in the light, air and space created in the post-war districts of the 1950s and 60s; and in the small-scale residential environments of the so-called cauliflower districts of the 1970s and 80s, which focused on social encounters.


Healthy city or healthy inhabitants?

Since the 1990s the awareness of health has largely translated into environmental targets: the creation of a clean and safe living environment. Much has been achieved in this area. Air has become cleaner, ecological zones now penetrate the city, and sustainable water systems have been developed. This has of course had a very positive effect on the city dweller. The question is, however, whether that city dweller has started to live in a healthier way. Various ‘diseases of prosperity’ have recently taken on epidemic proportions: the number of people with obesity, dementia, depression and cardiovascular diseases is on the rise, and this is partly explained by unhealthy lifestyles. Perhaps we should not refer to these as diseases of prosperity, since many of them are unfortunately linked to low education and income levels. The higher one’s socio-economic status, the healthier one’s lifestyle. We do know that the design of the living environment influences (healthy) behaviour. A clean and safe environment is good for health; movement is medicine. An urban environment can encourage healthy behaviour.


Movement is a choice

In the early 20th century sports amenities emerged and became an integral part of city neighbourhoods. The necessity coincided with the transition from an industrial society to a society based more on sedentary, administrative work. For many people, physical work was a thing of the past, and sufficient movement had to be achieved in another way. Today we see a comparable change as computers increasingly influence our lives. If we no longer want to move, we no longer have to move. Owing to forms of transport such as escalators, cars and mobility scooters, increasing prosperity and technological developments (computers, games, internet services and so on), movement has become a conscious choice. People have to be encouraged to start moving again.


A city that encourages healthy behaviour

A city can stimulate the health of its inhabitants in two ways: by minimising health risks and by optimising health opportunities. Traditional environmental themes such as air quality, safety and noise pollution concern minimising health risks. What is now desirable is to turn our attention to optimising health opportunities. A city can encourage healthy behaviour. More space for movement, sport and games. Priority for bikes (and E-bikes) and walkers instead of cars. Ensure that moving around the city is attractive. Luckily, the city is becoming popular again among young families with children, and elderly people remain living at home for longer. Design the city to cater for these groups.


Health-inclusive design

The era of large area development projects seems to be past. We now see more and more small interventions in the city. Alongside the existing institutions, new players such as housing associations, entrepreneurs and individual citizens are claiming a role for themselves and initiating developments in the city. We make the city together. Let these parties create health benefits as they improve the quality of the city. Let all parties contribute to the design, development and management of the city through ‘health-inclusive’ design: consider the health benefits that can be achieved!


Benefits often lie in small interventions that enable children to cycle more frequently to school, or wider pavements where they can play, or more greenery in the city. Moreover, social initiatives in which residents tackle the development and maintenance of public space can benefit health. Increasing a sense of ‘ownership’ encourages residents to use public space more frequently. This is an appeal to consider the potential to improve health in all urban developments. What this means in concrete terms depends strongly on the social and spatial structure of a place. Experience has taught us that health interventions in a deprived area differ considerably from interventions in a modern, suburban neighbourhood. Every neighbourhood, every place, is unique and calls for unique health-based interventions.


By: Ad de Bont (expert on ‘healthy urbanisation’ at Eindhoven University of Technology and co-founder of the Platform for Healthy Design).

Posted on : 12-02-2015

Images: TUe


Supervision renewal Emmen city centre

What is the identity of the city centre of Emmen? How can a dynamic centre arise that is not only based on shopping, but also on a sustainable mix of functions? Joop Slangen and Tess Broekmans of Urhahn are appointed for the supervision of the city centre.


Development area

The city centre of Emmen is dynamic, despite the shrinkage in the region. The zoo, which lay in the heart of the city, is being moved. Therewith a lot of development area is being generated, but there also arises another relation to the biggest trigger of the city. This asks for a vision on the whole city centre of Emmen.


Opportunities and strategies
We have had conversations with all parties involved in the city centre of Emmen, from entrepreneurs to developers. This way we got a good impression of the city centre and its  opportunities. With the officials from the different sectors an integral vision was made, in which a spatial and socio-economic perspective on the city centre have been included. Motto for the vision is ‘urban facilities in a village atmosphere’. The vision consists of a reliable analysis, an incentive towards the identity and core values and some development strategies. In January 2015 the vision was approved by the city council and is converted to a concrete action plan. The vision has already been used as a basis for the supervision of the city centre.

Sustainable area development Strijp-T

Test case sustainable business sites
Employment area Strijp-T in Eindhoven is test case in the European research C2C BIZZ for the development of cradle to cradle in business sites. The location is introduced by our team, because the time has come to think with the owners and entrepreneurs about the future of Strijp-T. Sustainable area development is the opportunity for Strijp-T.


A vision that matches the wishes of the entrepreneurs  

With the entrepreneurs, owners and the municipality a vision is developed for the area. By combining the wishes of the entrepreneurs with the potency of the place a vision has arisen that suits the current firms and is a niche in Eindhoven: the ‘crafts’-campus of Eindhoven. Through interviews with the stakeholders in two work sessions a shared story for Strijp-T is developed.


Eyes opened

Now that the vision is ready, the next step is to organize the involved parties in a collaboration that matches the dynamics of the area. A lot of things must be picked up: collaborating on an energy production plan, make a strategy to attract new users, set up a traffic plan to safely interfere freight and visitors. The vision forms the basis for this and has opened everyone’s eyes to the opportunities of sustainable area development in the area.


Learn more about sustainable area development? Contact us.

A lively city centre

Integral vision

The city centre of Amstelveen is a well functioning, popular shopping centre. The centre was generously expanded and restored in the late 80s, and it has a strong regional potency. The most important owner, Unibail Rodamco, has the intention to invest in the area. The city council aims to revitalise the main square. And last but not least: the entrance from the A9 highway is going to be considerably changed in the next couple of years (Urhahn advised the municipality with the ‘Workbook Herziening Tracébesluit’  on that project). All these dynamics ask for an integral vision for the city heart.


Strengthening of the connections

Urhahn assisted the municipality of Amstelveen by formulating her vision on the city heart. The essence of our vision is to strengthen the connections between the adjacent neighbourhoods and the city heart and to improve the public spaces in and around the centre. Especially in the evening, as the shops are closed but the theatre and pop podium full of life, the city heart has to offer more. That improves the balance in the relationship between shopping and other urban functions. The vision came about in work sessions with the municipality.



The vision is introduced in workshops with Unibail Rodamco. Now the next step is to come together to an integral improvement of the city heart.

Delta programme: are the Dutch cities prepared for weather extremes?

Effective measures

The assignment differs enormously per location. A location like Paleiskwartier in ‘s Hertogenbosch has to cope with water quality and water shortage, whereas in Kockengen flooding and subsidence are the main themes. With teams of national experts together with locals, we explored by design research which measures are effective. Our method of working and the accompanying ‘game’ have been an eye-opener for all participants of the cases.



A handbook offers an inspiring opening towards a more sustainable method of working in urban management based on collaboration and participation. Our advice is attributing to what local organizations are capable of doing by themselves to implement solutions. Besides that the (Dutch) website meekoppelen.klimaatadaptatie.nl offers tips, backgrounds, examples and an action plan. The game can be downloaded as well. On the (Dutch) website handboekproeftuinen.nl the results of the workshops are published.


Space-S Eindhoven made by future tenants

Strijp-S is developing into one of the most characteristic districts of Eindhoven, a place for creative urbanites. In Strijp-S housing association Woonbedrijf develops Space-S: a place to live (social rental) for students, families and entrepreneurs. Future tenants were invited to join the design process of their new home from day one. Woonbedrijf asked Urhahn to make a design that takes the ideas of residents seriously and combines it with their own expertise.


‘Collected Sessions’

The DNA of the design was characterized by contrasts: joint versus private and urban versus green. Both qualities were combined in a design with urban towers and the intimacy of green courtyards within in the block. With the residents we made different varieties of this concept in ‘Collected Sessions.’ In these sessions the atmosphere and quality of the courtyards and the need for community facilities were also discussed. Despite the changing composition of the group a collective idea of ​​Space-S arose quickly. This process is continued in the design for the public space.


Rapid planning

A design has arisen that is supported by the whole group. The future residents are committed to make it work: one offered to maintain the collective garden, the other starts a jazz club. To avoid any drop-outs, the plan was quickly developed. The urban design concept was made in May and June 2013. A year later there was a preliminary design for the buildings and outdoor spaces. December 2014, the planning application was submitted. The first homes will be completed in 2016.


Value creation in small steps

Amvest and Boele & Van Eesteren proof that applying the philosophy of spontaneous city is not just the domain of the local government. In a vision for Binckhorst Northwest Urhahn examines how to improve the quality of this inner city area of employment in an organic area development process.


New Life

Commissioned by Amvest and Boele & van Eesteren Urhahn has done a survey on the future of the the area. Both parties have property in the area. In the Northwest Quadrant are a number of old buildings of the former gasworks. The site is within walking distance of stations HS and CS, a waterfront and at Binckhorstlaan, a major entrance to the city of The Hague. The exploration is to improve the prospects for the area.



Inspirations, programmatic scenarios and a development strategy form the cornerstones for the  exploration. The study was presented to the municipality of The Hague.


District 070 as a concept

District 070 is the working title of our exploration. District 070 represents an urban mix of cultural, working and residential functions. The sketch is an open invitation to The Hague to shape the future of this promising area in the city, together. The image is not a blueprint, but the result of a whole series of small and large steps in the time, which contribute to the creation of value. Motto: “start tomorrow”.

Integration of highway A9


The highway A9 has divided the urban area of Amstelveen for years. Amstelveen is a suburban city, originated from an old village, and located nearby Amsterdam. Directly next to the modernistic city centre the raised highway A9 is situated. The intended broadening of this highway provides for a reason and offers financial means to mitigate the division between the north and south of Amstelveen. This task is linked to the aim to expand the city centre and to anchor the centre better with the residential areas of the city. Urhahn also made a vision for the city heart.


Connecting two parts of the city

By lowering the highway, covering it partly and by adapting junctions new opportunities for the city arise. Urhahn has explored the traffic engineering aspects and has used them to give Amstelveen a new diligence. Next to the old village that is now situated alongside the road, a city park is constructed on top of the highway and a school gets a playground on this roof. In the city centre three sub-tasks are entangled in an integral design: the development of a public transport node, the transformation of a big office building and the reinforcement of the popular shopping centre.


Balance between affordability and efficiency for the city

Many variants have passed the previous years: from a complete tunnel to a half covered one. The current design focuses on the balance between affordability and efficiency for the city. Not the entire highway needs to become a tunnel, in some parts the noise reduction is sufficient with an uncovered road that is just a bit lower than ground level.


North Sea Canal area: together along the waterside

Divergent interests

The Province of North Holland, two ministries and five municipalities around the North Sea Canal have set the goal to develop together a future vision for the canal. The interests of the different parties diverge strongly. To support the economic development within the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area, space is needed for economic growth (harbours and employment areas), new residences and recreation. But the available space is limited.



In 2007 Urhahn sketched an integral spatial image of the possible future developments. Until that moment economic and other policy fields had only been imagined separately. This new,  integral prospect clarified the importance to set up an integral vision for the region.


In 2013 Urhahn together with Decisio set up spatial-economic perspectives that bring up for discussion the area of tension between urbanization, increase of employment and conservation of regional qualities. From these perspectives we distilled the ingredients for the integral Vision North Sea Canal Area 2040.


Essential for the process were the moments of discussion. By frequent meetings between officials, politicians and stakeholders an understanding arose of each other’s aims and constraints. This simplified the decision-making and enlarged the support. Beside the search for substantial focus Urhahn made a major contribution to the imaging for this strategic task.


Government approved vision

The final result of this process is a government approved Vision for 2040. Intensification has become the creed of the vision. The essence of the vison is to make decisions at the moment that they are needed. This make the vision a sustainable product.


Melanie Schultz van Haegen, minister of Infrastructure and Environment, quote from Blauwe Kamer Jaarboek 2013.

The vision on the North Sea Canal Area is an example of how it should be: an integral vision for a longer period that has worked out well. The province of North-Holland has taken the lead and has together with the five municipalities around the canal and the Ministry set up a vision in which choices are being made on urbanization, harbour development and improvement of the quality of life.”

Art by the River Rhine

Master Plan Rijnboog

The city council of Arnhem decided not to proceed with the construction of a new harbour in the inner city in march 2010. A harbour was one of the detailed plans of the Master Plan Rijnboog, designed in 2004 by Manuel de Sola Morales. Still, the municipality aims to continue the intention of the Master Plan: connecting the city with the river Rhine. Therefore the municipality decided to hold a multiple assignment for a design of the Nieuwstraat Area. Urhahn won this mini competition with a surprising new approach: an art cluster on the other side of the Rhine, directly connected to the city centre via a pedestrian bridge. Urhahn together with city and stakeholders developed an urban design that complements well the existing street pattern and at the same time adds its own quality and atmosphere to the inner city.


Alternative strategies

In the summer of 2012 it became clear that the plan for the Nieuwstraat was no longer feasible. Developers retreated and the cultural programme came under pressure. The municipality owns much of the property in the area and therefore had to search for a new direction. Urhahn showed on the basis of the principles of the Spontaneous City that there are good alternative strategies. By renewing buildings one by one, involving the users and investing in public space, the city grows slowly. The best example of this strategy can already be seen in Arnhem around the new library: here an office building has been transformed into hotel, an empty plot has been designed as a temporary park and the shopping street in this part gets more customers again.


Link between city and river

In 2014 it was decided not not realise the museum by the Rijn. The step-by-step strategy must now be carried out, starting with the church square as connecting link between the historical centre and the Rijn.

Water plan Hasselt (BE)

With the disappearing of the industrial functions around the dock of Hasselt opportunities arise for new urban programmes close to the historical centre.


Opportunities for water usage and development of the city 

The harbour of Hasselt protrudes from the Albertkanaal to the historical city centre. The surroundings of the harbour are currently transformed from industrial zone into an urban district. The design and programme of the water should complement this new environment and vice versa. Urhahn and Projectbureau Vrolijks were asked to set up a water plan to keep and design the nautical atmosphere and improve the relationship of the public space with the property development.


Harbour and city come together

Through the joint commissioning of the harbour authority and the municipality’s urban development department two interests are brought close together. The awareness that the common task is an opportunity for both parties, forms the basis of a series of workshops. The team Vrolijks-Urhahn have done several site visits and spoken to parties with an interest in and around the water. Hereby a common agenda has been set up. The conclusion was soon found that there is no space for all the desired programme. But by making smart use of the permanent and temporary spaces a desirable and effective format has come up. The space around the water is attractive and lively during all seasons.


Attractive harbour

With the determination of the Waterplan Hasselt the functional use of the water and the nautical atmosphere that evokes this come together with the design of the public space (bureau BUUR) and the property development. The harbour is redesigned in 2014. In 2015 and 2016 the water programme, public space and real estate will come to development.


A livable neighbourhood for everyone

Divided city

Washington is a divided city: the east side of the Anacostia River is black. The disadvantage here is great: unemployment, poverty, poor living conditions, broken families. With the Go Dutch Consortium Urhahn worked on a plan for Barry Farm, a neighbourhood with a rich history and many residents without perspectives. The aim of the Go Dutch Consortium is to not only improve the neighbourhood physically, but also to enable the residents to develop themselves.


Densification while maintaining the soul

Through the interweaving of the physical, the economical and the social a plan is created in which the improvement of opportunities for the residents is the central goal. Through education, support and opportunities for entrepreneurship, the neighbourhood is a place where the current residents to grow and the new residents feel at home. By making good outdoor areas and small apartment buildings the soul of the neighbourhood is kept whilst density is increased. The current residents all have a right to return to a place where they can develop into full-fledged citizens of the neighborhood.



Our solution was an entry in a multiple assignment, and was among the five selected plans. In the presentation to the neighbourhood, the plan was well received. Eventually another plan was chosen, but its implementation is now on hold.

Designing the Spontaneous City

Urhahn together with PBL (Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency) have taken the initiative to investigate the role of the government in facilitating organic urbanism. We consider this an important step in the further implementation of our philosophy of the spontaneous city, the philosophy that urban developments should be borne by local ingenuity, entrepreneurship and (small scale) initiative. The study focuses on the smallest scale, that of the initiator. From the concept of the aspirations of people we look at the specific constraints and conditions that they encountered in the process of realizing their initiative. This allows us to make general statements about the role of government.


Designing the Spontaneous City (in Dutch) can be downloaded from the site of PBL.

A new bridge for Oaxaca

Detailed implementation

As first concrete implementation of the Vision for the Rio Atovac (Urhahn, MAP & Deltares 2011) Urhahn designed a new bridge connection for ongoing traffic, the Puente IV Centenario. ICA, a big Mexican engineering agency, has asked Urhahn to make an integral plan for three components: an architectural design for a car bridge and a pedestrian bridge, a landscape design for the two riversides, and the urban planning and traffic engineering integration on both sides of the river.


An attractive place for passers-by and street vendors

In association with a local landscape architectural office a design is made that combines the technical knowledge of the Netherlands with the local knowledge of Mexico. A good example of this is the design of a site for the local street vendors at the base of the bridge in the Parque del Amor. The client wanted to use the redevelopment of the bridge as an excuse to chase away the street vendors, but with our design we ensured through a landscape integration that the site is made much more attractive for both the passers-by and the street vendors, making the design broadly appreciated. Also the design of the street-lightning was included in the plans.



The construction of the bridge is being prepared.


Impression of the bridge and park, made by ICA BIM:



IABR ‘Making City’: Upload Eindhoven

Cat City

Eindhoven is a ‘cat city’. You have to know where to go to uncover the special spots, the city doesn’t give away it’s identity very easily. Only once a year, during the Dutch Design Week, a visitor experiences the city’s fizz. For the 2012 IABR Biennal ‘Making City’ in the NAi Rotterdam, Eindhoven wanted to show in an interactive way what the city has to offer and where the city is created.


Charging Pawn

With EDHV, one of those creative companies from Eindhoven, Urhahn made the interactive application ‘Upload Eindhoven’. With Upload Eindhoven, any interested party can contribute to an urban Eindhoven, the heart of design and technology in the Brabant region. On the game board, the player charges a pawn with individual establishing requests, and ‘walks around’ Eindhoven to find the most optimal match between supply and demand. Upload Eindhoven focuses exclusively on sites with possibilities for reuse of industrial (heritage) buildings.



From April to August 2012 ‘Upload Eindhoven’ was exhibited on the IABR in the NAI as part of the exhibition ‘Making City’. The data that is collected can be used by Eindhoven to find out what factors are important in creating creative environments.


Sustainable river becomes new public value in Oaxaca

Sustainable future

The municipality of Oaxaca de Juárez, Mexico invited Urhahn and MAP to organize a workshop and lecture in July 2011. The municipality aims to develop a sustainable future for the city of Oaxaca based on local cultural history. The municipality is also seeking solutions to some problems in the city such as the increase in traffic, uncontrolled growth and a shortage of public space. The cultural monuments and rich flora and fauna are under pressure from the new developments in the city. The workshop focused on the public value of the city.


Bottom-up participatory process

In the workshop, a bottom-up participatory process with local stakeholders and the municipality,  various themes of public value were explored, including the restoration of the river Atoyac, the informal neighborhoods (slums), the historic center, the Mercado de Abasto (central market) and congestion. A comprehensive survey of the history of public value of Oaxaca was used as an inspiration. The participants decided together that the improvement of the River was the theme that could provide the most effective contribution to the city. Urhahn, MAP and Deltares were then commissioned to developed a vision for the Atoyac River.


The vision for the revitalization of the river Ayotac brings a new relationship between the city and river. The water quality is restored and the banks will be transformed into a green corridor and urban space for encounter. The integrated approach involving water quality, traffic, nature, economy and urban development ensured that the plan for the river is more than a spatial design. The vision forms a development strategy, in which step by step improvements of the quality of the river and riverside developments contribute to the economic vitality of the city. In addition, the vision plays an important role in the development of local knowledge in the field of urban renewal, water and the creation of local jobs.



The vision is the guiding principle for long-term development. First step in the development is the construction of a new bridge and the parts of the river bank that meet here, for which Urhahn made a development plan. With this development, the knot directly next to the historic city is being addressed and the waterfront displays its firts improvement. In 2013 the project was presented at the UNESCO World Congress on World Heritage Cities on the theme ‘Sustainable Cities’.


Luis Ugartechea Begué, Mayor of Oaxaca de Juárez

“We are very pleased with the broad participatory approach. Urhahn and MAP showed us how to determine the greatest public value for the transformation of our city – the restoration of the river Ayotac. Thanks to the involvement of various stakeholders broad support emerged. The citizens feel ownership of the plan.”

The Spontaneous City

Small-scale ‘make-ability’ combined with Dutch entrepreneurial skill: that is the basic principle. That is why the authors of this book argue in favour of local resourcefulness, flexibility, and openness – in short, they argue for the Spontaneous City. The Spontaneous City is never finished; the Spontaneous City is about the user; the Spontaneous City is the result of supply and demand. This manifesto provokes discussion about the aims of urban planning in the twenty-first century.


The Dutch version of the book is sold out, but the English version of the book can be ordered from the website of Bis Publishers.










Factory intertwines with the city

Development plan

Commissioned by the owner Ter Steege Realty Rijssen Urhahn has outlined a vision for the transformation of a former textile factory. The municipality and TSVG have asked us to detail this vision into a development plan. This plan provides the framework for the architects that will make the detailed designs for the buildings. Urhahn also drew up a plan for the design of public space and John Breen of Urhahn is supervisor for the development.


Support and inspiration

As of the first sketches the credo has been to create support. First of all support from the municipality of Almelo. After a series of meetings and presentations an official working group was set up to guide further planning. This integrated team worked parallel on the development plan and zoning plan.


For the development of Indië Almelo Urhahn formed a think tank that was regularly involved in the development process. This group consists of people with regional background, strategic position in the local entrepreneurs network or with a particular affinity with this type of project.


Working and living a stone’s throw from the town centre

Over the years, several products have been composed. The development plan is a key document. On this basis, architects are selected and plans are judged. The document also gave context to the public space design. The document is often used for inspiration. Meanwhile, the first buildings are realized and an existing factory complex is transformed into a music rehearsal room. Meanwhile, part of the site adopted the new zoning plan from the municipality, which allows for the construction of dwellings. The first houses are delivered in the summer of 2015. Parts of the public spaces are are designed and delivered with material that was found in this area.


Bert Hallink – president Ter Steege Realty Rijssen:

“The planners of Urhahn were inspired by recycling and weaving themes of the Indië factory. Because they put people first at all times, it seems more like they are recycling and knitting. That does not sound cool, but it characterizes the true master. “

Redevelopment creates public and financial value


Croydon, a south London Borough of 350,000 inhabitants, was developed in the 70s as the second office center of London. The transformation of Wellesley Road and Park Lane, the central axis in Croydon, is one of the key projects for the regeneration. OKRA landscape architects, in association with Urhahn, Peter Brett Associates and Soundings have won the prestigious ‘International Urban Design Competition for Wellesley Road and Park Lane’. The assignment is to create a vibrant centre of the monstrous main infrastructure that nowadays divides the centre in two parts.


Connecting link

Our approach focuses on four elements: addressing the infrastructure and redevelopment of public space, temporary interventions to improve the livability, urban acupuncture and actions in neighbouring plots. The plan is not just about the public space, but also about the enthusiasm of stakeholders involved in the project. The approach to public space focuses on adding green and recreational places, a new vision of public transport and cycling and simplifying the infrastructure.



The current focus of the project is in the detailing of the plan for the road. This is a long process because of the large traffic engineering implications of the project. A number of subprojects on the street is now being implemented.

More green, identity, cultural history and human scale for Chinese cities

Together with Niek Roozen Landscape Architects and Niek Roozen International Design Team Urhahn contributes to the greening of Chinese cities and their expansions. An array of our co-operation in the northern Chinese city of Shenyang.

Shenyang is an industrial town about 600 kilometers north of Beijing. The city has an impressive history, where some emperors left behind monumental buildings and memorials.


Vision on 5750 hectare development area

Because of the speed of growth in China, there is hardly any time to reflect, and developments often follow trusted principles. But Shenyang asked 4 international companies to give their view on a (5750 hectares) master plan for Hunnan, a new town for the historic city. Niek Roozen and Urhahn implemented the characteristics of the area to give the master plan a more unique identity. Roozen introduces the ‘Green City’ principle which doesn’t erase the hills and rivers, but uses them for a solid structure with public value for inhabitants and visitors. Urhahn complements the grid by keeping some of the existing villages’ street patterns to introduce a friendlier scale and a cultural and historic soul. The presentation was received with enthusiasm and our team was asked to detail some of the ideas.


Public space in the new town

After drawing up the development plan for Hunnan, Niek Roozen International Design Team was commissioned to make a detailed design for the green structure. We defined several units that differ in usage and characteristics. Each component in itself contributes to the formation of a future new ‘address’ or local identity. The development of a new city hall and the provincial government’s buildings are situated at a grand central square of 3,000 by 300 meters. The project was delivered in 2012. Urhahn continued to work on the elaboration of the Baita river in the area.



In competition with a Japanese, Chinese and an Australian office Urhahn worked in a multidisciplinary design team on a square design with strong relation to two metro lines crossing the square. The square should be able to carry thousands of people during festivals and holiday traffic. On the other hand it should feel comfortable at low dynamic moments. Our team focused on green in the city, designed by arranging vertical gardens that make the connection with the underground program. Green provides an important contribution to the experience of the public space, the quality of the air and the regulation of the temperature. Urhahn’s contribution in the project was creating a smooth linkage between the transport lines underneath and the urban quality that needs to be found on top of it. Our design hasn’t been chosen. The complexity and the fact that there was little time for the development were part of the argumentation.


Movie Town Xiu lake

The Xiu reservoir in the mountains northeast of Shenyang supplies an important part of the drinking water for the city. Around the lake urban leisure programmes have been expanded. In winter one can skate, ski and swim (!). In summer the town offers workout areas, boat trips and amusement parks. A special programme along the shores is the location of a film set. A collection of historic buildings and a city wall form the backdrop for many movies. The film set will become an attraction in itself, and needs more facilities for that purpose, like restaurants, shops and a hotel. Urhahn was commissioned to make several urban design sketches. All developments should be in keeping with the size and atmosphere of the film set. This creates a true movie town.



Shenfu, east of the city of Shenyang, is a town that has grown because of the mining industry. With the closing of the mines space has emerged for housing. The municipality of Shenyang commissioned Niek Roozen International Design Team to enrich the potencies of urbanization by enhancing the relationship with the existing watercourses. Our team chose to develop the river in the area in a natural way, and adding sports as the main theme for the area around the canal, giving the developments distinguishing characteristics.

Your dream house between tree belts and ruts

Commissioned by the municipality of Tynaarlo, a town of 32,000 inhabitants in the Northeast of the Netherlands, Urhahn has made a development plan, urban design and public space design for a small residential neighbourhood expansion in Zuidlaren.


Zuidlaren is a very popular residential area, but it lacks supply. Urhahn made a development plan for about 60 ‘self build’ plots and 15 social houses. Identity and individuality form the starting point for the design. The spatial concept is based on the existing scenic landscape around the village with its so called ‘green chambers’, open areas surrounded by a belt of trees. Some of the existing tree rows are continued into the plan area. The shape of the roofs of the historic sheds in the area form another specific identity of the urban design. Buyers of a plot may build their dream house within the few rules of the urban design, or choose from one of the 50 architects that have made a design for the homes. Almost al plots were sold within two months, and most of the houses have been delivered anno 2015. The public space design by Urhahn is characterized by a modern version of ruts and wadis. The public space has been delivered, but needs a few more years to reach the desired volume.

Intensification with quality

800,000 new residents

London faces the huge challenge to find space for 800,000 new residents within the existing city in the next few years. Urhahn has done several projects for client London Development Agency in order to find an answer for this task.


Intensification in Seven South London Town Centres

The study ‘Housing Intensification in Seven South London Town Centres’ (2009) investigates how we can respond the challenge of housing intensification using differentiated strategies to suit the physical diversity and different aspirations of London’s towns. Far from being about housing alone, these strategies also focus on employment areas, the public realm and social infrastructure investment. Three design scenarios were developed for each of the 7 case studies, based on a range of typological and land use assumptions – thus showing that very different choices can be made depending on local priorities and needs. The scenarios also investigated how we can respond to a series of thematic issues that affect much of outer London, and how planning and design obstacles could be overcome.


TEN – North London Town Centre Enhancement

The study ‘TEN – North London Town Centre Enhancement’ (2005) focused on finding ways to add more housing while improving the quality of town centers. We conducted design studies for ten locations as a means of illustrating the scope of potential town centre enhancement strategies.



The design character of our approach is complementary to the usual formal and quantitative approach. The products were presented to all London Boroughs and were spread widely by Design for London.


Download Town Centre Enhancement in North London and the accompanying Design Catalogue (Urhahn, 2005) or Town Centre Intensification in Seven South London Town Centres (Urhahn, 2009).


Robin Buckle – project manager Design for London:

“I have found Urhahn to be a joy to work with; they have been stimulating in their exploration of the study topic, rigorous in their thought processes and analysis and clear in the presentation of conclusions and recommendations. They bring a European dimension to the work, adding value through their broad ranging European experience.”

Deprived neighbourhood on the rise

Integrated plan

The Kolenkit neighbourhood is one of the poorest neighbourhoods of Amsterdam consisting of 2000 small poor quality flats. 90% of the inhabitants are first of second generation immigrants. Urhahn developed an integrated plan, consisting of spatial, social and economic components.


The core of the renewal plan consists of the replacement of monotonous row housing with diverse blocks containing a semi-public space (‘encroachment zone’) on the street side. The Renewal Plan Kolenkitbuurt (Urhahn, 2002) was approved in 2003. After that, we made two detailed development plans.


Two detailed plans

For the Ringspoorzone, the location alongside the railwayline, the motto of ‘build first then demolish’ was carried out, so people could stay in the neigbourhood during the redevelopment of their block. Urhahn produced a plan which resolves the specific requirements and interests like noise problems for this location.


In the detailed development plan for the Zuidelijk Veld the ‘garden block’ becomes the building block for the neighbourhood. The urban design rules for the garden block provide for flexibility and create a varied streetscape. Each garden block includes a range of building types.


The first buildings have been delivered.

Housing à la carte

The study “Wonen à la Carte” was carried out within the framework of the “National Housing Quality Programme” for the Ministry of Spatial Planning, Housing and the Environment. We analysed a number of Dutch and international examples and discussed the main contemporary urban design themes. The book was widely distributed by the Ministry and was made available through bookshops. The book serves as an inspiration guide for policy makers, developers, housing associations, and individuals.

Read up on our other publications here.

Strategy for urbanity

The book ‘Strategie voor stedelijkheid’ (strategy for urbanity) highlights two questions: what is urbanity and how can it be achieved? Based on a thematic analysis, this book formulates spatial principles typical of urbanity. It also discusses promising strategic principles, in particular those that describe the relationships between three important parties: authorities, commissioner, and user. By means of an analysis of the Vondelparkbuurt in Amsterdam, and of recent projects in cities like Berlin, London and San Francisco, the book defines major spatial elements and strategic principles.

A Pattern Image

‘A Pattern Image’ sets out a broad range of built environments suitable for urban planning and studies the structures necessary to determine their visual success. It also intends to augment an image we already have, derived from recent urban planning policies, by presenting a wealth of material based on experience worldwide in the field. The book contains 24 examples and is useful both as a manual for specialists and as a reference for ordinary users. It is a welcome and indispensable aid in drawing up programmes for or designing new areas and urban extensions.