Urban development

languages: ennl

The development of a city holds a special dynamic. A city grows or shrinks. New times create different needs and impose different demands on the layout of the space in which the inhabitants coexist.

Pioneers, from artists to entrepreneurs, are constantly investigating these new needs, often at vacant locations in the city. They write new chapters in the history of the space that determines the identity of the city and the way people feel at home.

In a city, the inhabitants share more knowledge and experience on every conceivable aspect than can be obtained in the city hall. As residents they are happy to make that knowledge available as enterprising pioneers or as an articulate stakeholder.

This spontaneous development constantly challenges the existing order. Should a government enforce what was previously agreed or amend outdated rules? Who decides: administrators, experts hired by them, real estate financiers, the elected parliament with a four-year mandate or residents concerned with their immediate environment and current events?

In addition to increased expertise and self-awareness/empowerment of residents, there are two other developments that further this dynamic. A housing shortage not only provokes a discussion about expansion or densification but must not be at the expense of the required public space and social facilities. And due to the climate crises, it is no longer a matter of balancing interests between different societal groups, but also of balancing the interests of current and future generations.

How can a city maximize its use of the competencies of the players involved and take decisions that receive broad support, without losing sight of its roots? Who monitors the balancing of interests?

That is a challenge for democracy. But it is just as important to reflect on the need for a more integrated and inclusive approach to urban development.