Philosophy of the spontaneous city

In support of openness, flexibility and surprise in urban design

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.