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Urbanity

Creating both liveliness and tranquillity

A city is a concatenation of different types of areas, with different densities, uses and degrees of mixing. The 20th-century segregation between uses is very rigorous indeed. On the other hand, a mix of uses is not always appropriate. Mixing uses is not a goal in itself. The aim is to create a city with varying degrees of urbanization, with crowded places of exchange, easily accessible to a large number of people, and quiet places for living.

City centres and multimodal hubs are truly urban areas, which are meaningful at different scales at the same time, both for locals, people from the region or the country and even for people from abroad. A mix of uses, of cultural facilities, shopping and education, if possible also leisure and sports, reinforces the urbanity of an area. On the other hand, quiet residential areas are meaningful only to the residents and their families and friends: outsiders have no need to go there.

A city cannot be 100% urban. There are simply too many housing programmes and too few other uses, such as commercial and non-commercial facilities. So we have to handle with care the relatively little non-residential program. The main threat to the European city is in locating these non-residential uses in single-use areas, in isolated shopping centres, in gigantic campuses, in soulless business districts. The classic European city, the American urbanization model, the modern South American metropolis and the recent Asian megacity all need to be reassessed: how can urban change take place while retaining valuable characteristics?

Anna Vos Concepts for Urban Change addresses the challenge of developing realistic concepts for the renewal of inner cities, the optimization of existing suburbs, and the diversification of outdated industrial and office areas.

Optimization of land use must focus on the optimization of a city’s use. Sometimes this requires an increase in density and a mix of uses; at other times a decrease in density and single use are more appropriate.

Optimization of the use of a city is in the interests of public and private parties