Haiko Cornelissen Architecten | Fasten Your City Belt
On March 8th the urban transformation strategy Fasten Your City Belt, designed by Haiko Cornelissen Architecten, will be exhibited and published as part of the Dutch Europan 11 exhibition by the Netherlands Architecture Institute, NAi in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. As an example of how lifeless office districts can be transformed into lively neighborhoods, Haiko Cornelissen Architecten has designed the urban transformation strategy Fasten Your City Belt. The current economic recession shines a spotlight on a troublesome urban post-war phenomenon; the mono-functional office district. Cities around the world are plagued with mono-functional ideas but the recent economic recession shows that the office district is especially troublesome. Typically, office districts become lifeless only after office hours. However, with global office vacancy rates at the highest level in two decades, mono-functional office areas have become permanent dead zones. Vacant offices surrounded by vacant parking lots have no other programs to hide these flaws, and become no-go zones in cities around the world. Fasten Your City Belt transforms no-go office districts into lively and diversified neighborhoods.
To show how the transforming strategy works, Haiko Cornelissen Architecten has chosen the Amstel III office district in Amsterdam for the Europan 11 competition – one of the most prestigious and renowned competitions for young European architects. Based on research, the most important factor for creating lively cities is the density of people, buildings and program. Because Amsterdam has a steady demand of residences for the niche market, apartment buildings with accompanying program (supermarkets, daycare, restaurant, etc) have been introduced. Secondly the existing spatial organization needs to be transformed to accommodate the increased density. Thanks to the oversize infrastructure, the perimeter of each plot can be used to introduce new program in belts around the plot. These belts are transformed in response to local conditions: pushed up to create an entrance, pushed down or in to create more space and light for the existing buildings, or twisted to create space for the parking entrance below. Parking spaces are moved underground to make room for semi-private gardens, and office lobbies are moved up to solve the office vacancy by allowing new program to move in on the ground level.
Finally it is essential that plot owners are given incentives to collaborate in a private-public effort to transform the area. Reducing the oversize infrastructure allows the local government to increase the plot size of the owner in exchange for redeveloping the plot. The resulting increase of building area and spatial quality increases the value of the plot and therefore the incentives even further. Fasten Your City Belt is a strategy that transforms lifeless office districts into lively urban areas through a combination of strategic interventions and incentives. With Amsterdam as an example, Fasten Your City Belt serves as a new paradigm for any city that wants to transform mono-functional areas into lively neighborhoods.Location: The Netherlands Architect: Haiko Cornelissen Architecten Project name: Fasten Your City Belt