Giving sense to urban fringes

The marketplace was traditionally at the hub of, and gave rise to, many of the world’s cities. However, in the last fifty years business models have led to a very stereotypical and homogenised commercial marketplace detached from the public spaces of urban centres.

The commercial zones on the outskirts of towns, resulting from outdated urban planning models, and now absorbed by urban sprawl, need to be readdressed. These areas, often underexploited but with great development potential, represent an opportunity to restructure a fragmented urban fabric, to upgrade and reconfigure whole districts. These car-designed zones can be reclaimed and reintegrated within the continuity of urban spaces at a human scale by reconnecting them to public transport networks. Mono-functional enclaves can be replaced by living and working hubs with increased urban mix and diversity.

The commercial aspect can no longer be considered in isolation of the wider context of urban centres. It must form an integral part, and contribute to, the creation of the urban landscape and the sustainable city.

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