Marianthi Tatari
Associate Director
UNStudio, Amsterdam

The top-down grand visions of modernism have proven to be insufficient to handle the complexity, diversity and dynamism of the contemporary city. With the world urban population rapidly expanding, novel design approaches must be sought out. By sensing human nature, thinking of inclusive, user-centric and bottom-up frameworks, cities can be made livable, connected and healthy.

Architects, designers and urban planners need to start working together with innovative developers, city councils and teams of experts to find and test real life, integral solutions to current challenges. Technology as a design tool can and will improve how we live, work, move and learn, in a more participatory way. Rather than prescribing a comprehensive plan for a city (based on assumptions about how people might live, work and play), as designers a responsive city can be generated through a range of systemic, scalar and future-proof solutions.

UNStudio recently completed an urban vision for an innovative and experimental new neighborhood (Brainport Smart District) in the town of Helmond, in the Netherlands. The new neighborhood is planned based on the latest insights and techniques in the areas of circularity, participation of future inhabitants, social cohesion and safety, health, data, new transport technologies and independent energy systems. Brainport Smart District aims to contribute to the creation of a unique, sustainable living concept, one that empowers people, embraces experimentation and “learning by doing.”