Research projects Urban Compositions

Basic principles of Urbanism

Commissioner/supporter/subsidiser: EFL foundation

Principal investigator: V.J. Meyer

Collaborators: Ir. J. Westrik, Ir. T. Bouma, Ir. M.J. Hoekstra, Ir. H. Venema, Ir. W. Smits

Participating organisations: University of Agriculture Wageningen, EFL Foundation.

The project concerns an extensive analysis of the basic principles of urbanism, focussing on the development of 19th and 20th century urban design practice and theories, related to the significance of this body of knowledge for present-day and future tasks and problems. The reason for this project is the domination of technocratic functionalism during the post-war decades, which has produced an absence of a collective memory of the basic principles of urbanism, developed in the 19th and early 20th century. The aim of the project is to revitalise this collective memory of the body of knowledge of the discipline, to be able to put present-day questions of urbanism in an historic perspective: In what sense is it fruitful to use some basic principles for contemporary questions, and for which problems is it necessary to develop quite new instruments, concepts and approaches? The research especially pays attention to the interaction between the five different aspects of the urban fabric and instruments of urban design (territorial conditions, parcelling, public spaces, building typology and functional zoning), related to the question of the coherence of the spatial system as a whole.

Dutch Urbanism Today

Commissioner/supporter/subsidiser: Netherlands Architecture-Stimulation Fund, City of Amsterdam, City of Rotterdam, City of The Hague, BVR Urban Planners, Palmboom & Van den Bout Urban Designers.

Principal investigator: V.J. Meyer

Collaborator: Ir. L.P.J. van den Burg

Participating organisations: City of Amsterdam, City of Rotterdam, City of The Hague, BVR Urban Planners, Palmboom & Van den Bout Urban Designers.

The project raises for discussion the approaches, concepts and instruments of present-day leading studios and public services: In what sense are these approaches, concepts and instruments building upon the 'body of knowledge' of the discipline? In what sense are they fundamentally new and innovative and in what sense can they be considered as fruitful answers to present-day challenges and problems? The project investigates this 'state of the art' of the discipline of urbanism at the beginning of the 21st century, by organising an annual exhibition and symposium concerning the work of important professional studios and public services.

Constructing the 4D city

Principal investigator: L.M. Calabrese

Participating organisations: K.U. Leuven; IUAV Venice; ETSAB Barcelona.

The European City is characterised by the rich layering of historical urban patterns, which nevertheless offer conditions for contemporary urban life and activities. The research will investigate how historic layering of patterns can be combined with new interventions. This position considers urban design as working at many scales simultaneously; urban design programmes as characterised by more than locally limited use-functions; and urban conditions as historically contingent. The research project concerns design research and research by design: the design research concerns an investigation of recent projects, which try to combine a new configuration of the urban structure at the local scale with the development of new spatial and functional structures at the regional and international level.


Commissioner/supporter/subsidisers: the Netherlands Architecture Stimulation Fund - Belvedere, Water Authorities

Principal investigator: V.J. Meyer

Collaborators: Drs. F.L. Hooimeijer, Ir. A.J. Nienhuis, Dr. S.P. Tjallingii, Ir. J. Tenani

Participating organisations: Research Centre Water TU Delft, Biennale di Venezia, Cities on Water - Venice The Dutch have a fine tradition in organising, technically orchestrating and designing water systems. Half of the Netherlands lies below sea level, though the Dutch have managed to make their territory profitable by building beautiful polders and urban water structures. The particular function of urban water, which characterises the Dutch territory and its urban artefacts, creates unique patterns. These express various and sometimes contradictory approaches to water. DUTCH WATER CITY challenges those visions by looking at the most meaningful examples of the 'fine tradition' in the light of current and future problems. Given the unreliable character of the climate and the unpredictable behaviour of water and wind, which frequently results in flooding, an innovative and less manipulative attitude towards the planning and design of the built environment is vital. The DUTCH WATER CITY project defines crucial design tasks and proposes an urban vision where water is no longer a purely technical problem, but an urban asset.

The Dutch Urban Block

Commissioner/supporter/subsidisers: the Netherlands Architecture Stimulation Fund - HGIS

Principal investigator: V.J. Meyer

Collaborators: Ir. S. Thomaes, Ir. H. Venema, M. Risselada (Department Architecture); Ir. S. Komossa (Department Architecture)

Participating organisations: Department of Architecture TU Delft, Ecole d'Architecture Paris-Malaquais, City of Amsterdam, City of Rotterdam

The project concerns research into the development of the Dutch urban block. As Castex and Panarai stated in their Formes Urbaines - de l'ilot a la barre in 1979, the disappearance of the perimeter block and of the traditional street in modernistic urbanism resulted in the disappearance of an 'architecture of the city', and the disappearance of significant relations between private and public domains. The research aims to consider the urban block as the basic element of the urban fabric; the block concerns the scale at which the essence of relations between public and private sectors have been organised. By analysing different 'prototypes' of urban blocks from the 17th century onwards, the research endeavours to unravel exactly what happened to the relation between public and private sectors over the centuries, and in what sense the 'revitalisation' of the perimeter block results in a new significant relation between public and private sectors. The analysis will focus on the specific relationship between the morphology of the urban plan and the typology of the urban block, and on the specific relationship between the spatial organisation of the private domain and the spatial organisation of the public domain. Particular interest will be paid to the relationship between the urban dwelling, urban block and public space connected to the block.

Small Settlements in Urbanising Landscapes

Commissioner/supporter/subsidisers: the Netherlands Architecture Stimulation Fund - Belvedere; Provinciale Welstandsorganisaties

Principal investigator: Ir. H. Venema

Collaborators: Ir. L.P.J. van den Burg, Ir. N. Kr�¶mer

Participating organisations: Rijksdienst Monumentenzorg, Rijksadviseur voor het Landschap, Palmboom & van den Bout Stedebouwkundigen.

The project concerns research into the development of small settlements in the Netherlands: villages, small towns and hamlets. Since the end of the 20th century, there has been a great demand for small settlements in rural environments by a large percentage of the population. This has been encouraged by increasing mobility and a desire for 'authenticity'. Following the bankruptcy of the 5th Policy Document on Spatial Planning, which aimed to encourage a policy of concentrating urbanisation into 'red zones', the Policy Document appears to allow a more liberal development of the urbanisation of the rural landscape. Densification and expansion of small villages have been proposed as important possibilities for urban growth, in combination with proposals for building new villages. If this is to be the new reality of urbanisation, it will be important to be able to define the specific qualities of existing villages, small towns and hamlets in the Netherlands. Especially the relationship between the urban settlement and the landscape should be taken into account; after all, the urbanisation of the Dutch landscape has been interwoven with the exploitation of the landscape since the 13th century. An important question is: are the typical Dutch settlements really very 'authentic' and 'harmonious', as many people are stating, or in what sense are they the result of transformations in the relationship between landscape and society? Different 'prototypes' of these settlements from the 17th century onwards will be analysed; the analysis will concentrate on the specific relationship between the morphology of the urban plan and the territorial context, and on the changes in that relationship in different periods as a result of changes in the relationship between society and landscape. The result will be an atlas, which will be useful for urban designers and planners who ask in what sense the form of the present-day village can be considered as a result of the historic as well as the present-day relationship between society and landscape.

Traffic and the design of the Urban Fabric

Commissioner/supporter/subsidisers: Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management

Principal investigator: Ir. B. Bach SHO, T.M. de Jong

Collaborators: E. van Hal, Ir. M.I. de Jong

Participating organisations: CROW

Recent technical developments enable people to scatter activities over a region, to sprawl the human habitat and to erode the urban space by excessive use of the private car. In most Western countries, people working in the disciplines involved in the quality of the environment, urban life, public space and traffic safety understand that comprehensive planning is needed to combine urban quality and environmentally-friendly and safe traffic.

The 'Traffic and the Design of the Urban Fabric' project will supply a book for everybody involved in traffic safety and high quality urban space. It starts off with a reconnaissance of urban designs of the last fifty years that were intended to provide traffic-safe and liveable districts and cities. After this review, the book goes on to discuss design tools for designing a traffic-safe urban space and an environmentally-friendly urban fabric and networks. The book documents recent Dutch know-how and ?tools to design? for bicycle traffic, the design of a so-called ?Woonerf? (Home Zone), the positioning of 30 km/h areas and the promotion of high quality urban space around new transit systems, such as Light Rail.


Name author: sspek
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