The Vital City

The City is not a Concrete Jungle it’s a Human Zoo

The vital city is alive. It’s always in motion and offers freedom, stimulates social contact, cherishes beauty and has its own identity.

In the history of Kraaijvanger Architects and in the many buildings and places we have designed for inner cities over the years, we see the effects that architecture and urban design can have in the long term. We make architecture that supports the vital city by creating, ordering and inspiring the right conditions.

The Vital City Offers Freedom

© Iris van den Broek

The Vital City Stimulates Social Contact

Now that social media influence our daily lives, ‘real life’ encounters are becoming increasingly important. The vital city not only accommodates planned meetings, but also facilitates unexpected encounters. In our designs, we pay extra attention to the value of the space between the individual dwelling and the communal public space: the zone in which people can experience a sense of collective ownership. Providing room for people to share – for work, sports, doing odd jobs or cooking, this intermediate space can compensate and complete the compactness of the individual dwelling.

In a city, people have to be able to move around effortlessly. But public space is always more than transit space. We always strive to create sufficient recreational space, where people can meet each other, sitting on a bench among trees and clean water that invite biodiversity, in the lee of the city’s dynamism.

The Vital City Cherishes Beauty

Beauty connects people to the city and its buildings. Beauty uplifts, raises awareness, amazes and inspires. Beauty is an important condition for the circular economy, as a thing of beauty is not demolished and cast away lightly. We create beauty by combining intuition and focus.

We focus on the broader arena in which architecture takes place. We focus by looking closely at the environment, by listening to clients and users. We focus on expertise and specialist knowledge and on design, materialization and detail. Our focus results in buildings that tick all the boxes; buildings that are meticulously detailed using healthy materials, that age beautifully and provide people’s lives with a peaceful backdrop while adding something to inspire and move them.

The Vital City Has Its Own Identity

The city is informed by meaning and identity. Vital is the city in which history is visible, yet where there is room for new stories. Besides beauty, the appeal of European inner cities illustrates the values of meaning and identity. As we build the city, we attach great importance to the recognizability of local identity and we provide it with a prominent position. We do this not by expanding and thematizing the city’s most striking features, but by critically examining the stratification of its identity and by anchoring the layers of that identity in its architecture and public space.

“The City is what it is
because our citizens are what they are.” (Plato)