The future is urban (POPIN, 1994)! Besides large compact cities, also smaller municipalities in Flanders are challenged with densification-processes that are mostly solved by exporting dense inner-city models or building typologies, that not always harmonize with these peri-urban conditions. We use research by design to explore alternative densification processes, using alternative housing types and to rethink classic urban tissues which are more adapted to open space structures.

In Flanders, cities like Antwerp are facing the limits of their administrative boundaries and count on smaller adjacent municipalities to participate in the regional (Flemish) policy-objective to address the envisaged population growth. Although it seems a very simple assignment, it soon becomes clear that simply copying dense urban models or typologies (as eg. the figure of a building-block or high-rise (apartment) buildings, … ) is not adequate to the complicated context of these peri-urban area’s with their seemingly unordered heterogeneous landscapes and the juxtaposition of all kinds of uses. Densification therefore, needs to be rethought with new urban models and building typologies.

The studio’s aim is to explore how peri-urban conditions can lead to alternative densification processes. Alternative forms of living (eg collective housing) and (open) urban structures will be investigated. By mapping the peri-urban condition, research by design will be used to question densification as a tool to create a different  kind of urbanity.

In 2013 the city of Antwerp and 13 municipalities organized themselves within an interregional collaboration ‘De Zuidrand’. The objective is to explore how a regional (Flemish) policy-objective to house 120.000 new households projected by 2030 can be implemented in the southern part of the Antwerp region. As a complement for the ‘building block book’, which is an instrument for the city to deal with inner urban developments, the interregional collaboration is working on a new policy supporting manual for more peri-urban developments. The studio results, obtained by a research by design, will be a base for this policy guide.

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