Everyone seems to agree: mixed use areas contribute to liveable cities. But why is it so difficult to achieve a mix of functions in urban area developments and transformations? This dilemma intrigues us and forms the basis for our latest research.

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.