urban density

The Netherlands is being enriched with new environments that we hitherto knew only from abroad. Sometimes with high towers, but more often in high-density blocks of about eight floors. With a variety of amenities, pleasant green streets and squares, and good connections elsewhere.

As an office, we come into our own with these complex tasks. We are involved in the construction of towers and the development of high-density areas, we make plans for station areas or build in the middle of the city centre. We are working on these kinds of plans from The Hague to Berlin, and from Amsterdam to Groningen.

It isn’t about the tallest tower, but about the best street life. It’s about a pleasant place to work or live in, partly because of the great diversity of facilities that you can simply walk to, via pleasant public places with water, vegetation and people.

In these areas, large and small buildings can mix well. More importantly, the city at eye level – what you see at street level – has a certain fine grain. We call this a 'high-frequency plinth'. Put a front door, a different address, every ten metres. These plinths preferably have a morning, afternoon and evening programme. So that they are pleasant and socially safe at any time of the day and week. This creates dynamism and leads to expected and unexpected encounters. That is real urban life!

The best way to create such an urban environment is through a high density and a mix of functions. High density does not automatically mean that we have to take to the air. The most efficient way is to switch to about eight floors. These types of high-density blocks, which we all know from Paris, Barcelona or Berlin, are fairly function-neutral. Over time, you can easily turn them into hotels, schools or apartment complexes instead of offices. That is an enormous advantage. Of course, high-rise buildings fit in every now and then. Although they are relatively expensive and extremely visible. High-rise buildings must therefore be exceptionally good. High-rise buildings often require a larger footprint than you might initially think, in connection with wind nuisance, shadow effect, parking and the 'what goes up must come down' factor.

The urban mix of functions is best achieved by mixing at the level of a building block or a street. In a mixed building block or street, different buildings, each with their own function, stand side by side. This prevents complex vertical ownership situations and results in a mixed street. The ground floor of these buildings also has a mix of functions that are accessible directly from the street. This easily creates the desirably varied street scene.

>> see also mixed-use