Pieter Herthogs, Niels De Temmerman, Yves De Weerdt, Wim Debacker

Onderzoeksoutput: Conference paperResearch


Sustainable urban development is increasingly studied within the framework of dynamic theories such as resilience, adaptation or transition - concepts based on the acknowledgement of an uncertain and changing future. However, the use of dynamic concepts in the development discourse is not reflected in the approaches used to materialise our urban environments - conventional approaches mostly lead to the creation of buildings, infrastructure and public spaces that are unable to accommodate changes over time.
In order to study the effect of a more adaptable built environment on long term urban development goals, there is a need for methodologies linking dynamic theories on the urban level to concepts of adaptable materialisation. Using complexity theory as a theoretical framework, we have developed such a methodology: the Lab for Urban Fragment Futures. This paper discusses the aim to balance theory and practice, illustrates the methodology based on an urban regeneration project for a social housing estate in Mechelen (Belgium), and discusses its potential use and merits.

In essence, the methodology is a design charrette. The goal is to 'refurbish' an existing urban development project and adaptable variants of that same project, based on a hypothetical future scenario. Afterwards, the refurbishments of the existing project and its variants are evaluated in terms of their long term sustainable development goals. The development of the methodological framework and resulting theories is an iterative process, evolving case by case (similar to a grounded theory approach).
On a theoretical research level, the Lab could be useful to explore the benefits and drawbacks of adaptability on the neighbourhood level, to formulate theory, to create preliminary tools and guidelines, and to explore if there are planning principles to optimise the distribution of adaptable capacity in an urban fragment. At the same time, it could function as a decision support platform for policy makers, designers and other stakeholders of urban projects by demonstrating the importance of adaptable materialisation in supporting longterm sustainability goals.

The next stage in the development of the Lab for Urban Fragment Futures is testing the methodology in practice, which will be done in an ongoing redevelopment project in the city of Turnhout, Belgium. The results and experiences of the test case will then be used to explore and assess the methodology's strength in terms of verifying hypothesis about urban fragment adaptability.
Originele taal-2English
TitelProceedings of the XXV UIA World Congress
RedacteurenAmira Osman, Gerhard Bruyns, Clinton Aigbavboa
Plaats van productieDurban, South Africa
UitgeverijUIA 2014 Durban
ISBN van geprinte versie978-0-86970-783-8
StatusPublished - aug 2014
EvenementInternational Union of Architects World Congress - Durban, South Africa
Duur: 3 aug 20147 aug 2014


ConferenceInternational Union of Architects World Congress
Land/RegioSouth Africa


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