- How can urban Projects have a strategic Influence?    click here to open paper content1125 kb
by    Vermeulen, Peter | peter.vermeulen@stramien.be   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
Without clear spatial concepts and strong architectural images, urban projects cannot work, they need more. Stramien will illustrate four extra principles: urban heritage, the programme, context-integration and aspects of sustainability.
How can urban projects have a strategic influence?

Discussions about urban projects as a tool for urban regeneration are focusing on spatial quality. That is correct. Without clear spatial concepts and strong architectural images, projects cannot really integrate in the urban morphology or in the ‘mental map’ of inhabitants and visitors. However, how inspiring and innovative projects may be, they also need a kind of evidence, an obvious character as if they had always been there on that spot.

Yet, it requires more to ensure that urban projects really have a strategic influence. The ‘inherent spatial quality’ and this ‘normality’ need to be underpinned by a rich vision and background. Therefore, Stramien tries to integrate four main principles in its approach of urban projects, presented here as a contribution to the ‘trialogue’.

The city is built up by different historic layers. It requires a balance between respect and discretion to value this richness, by adding new values and contents to the urban heritage and this urban history.

Without a well established programme, projects cannot operate as a strategic tool for urban renewal. The next commercial project is not sufficient, every good project demands a direct exchange with well chosen cultural infrastructure and other services, new housing concepts, a social basis integrated in that particular local area.

Integration in the urban context seems to be self-evident, but this is not always the case. New structures and infrastructures, pedestrian connections, new areas, space for loading and unloading, transits and passages, and the impact on the neighbourhoods behind as well: it all needs special attention and care.

Different aspects of sustainability (cultural, social, socio-economic, ecological and technical) have to be integrated in order to maximise the benefits of the project and to reinforce the multi-layer aspects of the city in a multiple approach.


This contribution aims to illustrate these four main principles by a number of ‘Stramien-projects’ in Antwerp and elsewhere.

The approach can be illustrated in an urban context (Permeke-library, competitions for the Spoornoord-area and the renewal of the Military Hospital-site in Antwerp, an historic environment in Tongeren, or some former industrial areas – Boom, Turnhout, Willebroek),
as well as at the outskirts of the agglomeration (Infrastructure and multimodality at Kontich, commercial strip Boomsesteenweg, sports-infrastructure in an urban park, new functions for the fortifications around Antwerp).

Stramien cvba
Peter Vermeulen
April 2007

heritage, programme, context, sustainability
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