Mix to the Max?

The quality of mixed-use territories and the relevance of diversity in urban configurations. (studio trajectory leader: Birgit Hausleitner)

Current urban challenges require a rethinking of how we work and live. Many cities worldwide, confronted with increasing pressure on land, embrace densification of the built environment and intensification of land use. Ideas like the 24/7 city and development experiments that push the mix to the maximum contrast with local processes and spatial and temporal needs of inhabitants, businesses and communities.

Reshoring tendencies, as well as transition towards circular economy, require a certain localisation of manufacturing and related value chains. This requires spatial configurations that integrate living and working on multiple scales. Types of buildings, urban blocks, neighbourhoods, but also street networks and the metropolitan urban system as such need a rethinking. Highstreets, walkable centers and mixed business areas are currently the main locations of different types of work. With increasing intensification enabled by trends of work, it is of crucial importance to rethink what is mixed in these places and how different types of work can be integrated into other places. 

Not everything works everywhere and not everything can be mixed with everything. Different functions and urban activities, people and businesses, require different urban and environmental qualities. From a buzzing mix of activities and people along main streets towards either more quiet and calm or just very noisy and messy areas, a diversity of conditions is possible, but also necessary. Urban green builds an integral component of livable neighbourhoods, as well as the urban mix. It contributes to mitigating climate change, provides high-quality leisure spaces and increasingly plays a role in mediating between less compatible land uses. Mixed-use neighbourhoods can face increasing rent prices and increasing levels of nuisances, but at the same time are considered safer than mono-functional areas. This studio will focus on how high livable mixed-use neighbourhoods and districts can be designed. Therefore, this topic has a multi-scalar component, understanding a place in its network and considering accessible and walkable densities.

The main questions leading this topic are:

  • Which urban and environmental (spatial) qualities are required by the different users? 
  • How can anticipated changes in future work, (digitisation, hybridisation…) be facilitated in current and new types of urban configurations? 
  • What role does diversification of the built environment play and at what scale shall we diversify?
  • How do we design the different urban spaces where mixed-use is facilitated in multiple ways?  From central mixed-use areas via high streets towards the integration of different functions into specialised functional areas? 
  • What is the relevance of the interplay of local and metropolitan structures and interconnectedness of local centres to facilitate qualitative mix? And how can they be designed?
  • On what scale and how do we design new and enhance existing local mixed-use centers?
  • How to design the transitions between different functions and areas of different degrees of mix?

Related research and publications:

Liveability, diversity, working and living and the built environment

vDorst (2005) Een duurzaam leefbare woonomgeving: Fysieke voorwaarden voor privacyregulering   

Talen (2008) Design for Diversity: Evaluating the Context of Socially Mixed Neighborhoods. Architectural Press

Howard (2020) Working Cities. Architecture, place and production.

van Gameren, Kuitenbrouwer, Schreurs (eds) DASH15 (2019): Home Work City. Living and working in the urban block https://journals.open.tudelft.nl/dash/issue/view/DASH_15

Unceta, P., Hausleitner, B., & Dąbrowski, M. (2020). Socio-Spatial Segregation and the Spatial Structure of ‘Ordinary’ Activities in the Global South. Urban Planning, 5(3), 303-318. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.17645/up.v5i3.3047

Diversification of built density (and physical space in general):

Berghauser Pont, Hausleitner, vNes (2011). Buiksloterham. A study on neighbourhood densification and urban programme

Hausleitner, Berghauser Pont (2017). Development of a configurational typology for micro-businesses integrating geometric and configurational variables

Hausleitner (2019) Mixed-Use City: Configurational Conditions from Urban Street Network to Building Plot

Hill, Adrian V (ed.). (2020) Foundries of the Future: a Guide to 21st Century Cities of Making. With contributions by: Ben Croxford, Teresa Domenech, Birgit Hausleitner, Adrian Vickery Hill, Han Meyer, Alexandre Orban, Victor Muñoz Sanz, Fabio Vanin and Josie Warden. Delft. TU Delft Open, 2020. you can download it here: Books BK


further references will be added before September.