Functional Ambiance at work

Functional Ambiance introduces a new vocabulary, that brings together the world of flows and the world of places in the design of urban infrastructures. Since the completion of our research in 2013, the Functional Ambiance methodology proves its value in the practise of street design. We have explored the possibilities of Functional Ambiance in projects in the cities of The Hague, Utrecht and Zwolle.

In all projects, we actively use the tool of the Functional Ambiance Spidergraph. This is done in a workshop format, to analyze the current situation and to share the ambitions for the future street design. Our approach confirms, that a cross disciplinary language helps to properly start an integrated process of street design. The vocabulary is easy to use for both professionals as well as non-professionals. This is a real asset of this new approach: it creates a framework for an open discussion between people with different expertise and backgrounds.

In Utrecht, the municipality of Utrecht has set the goal to improve the spatial quality of its city infrastructures. The Functional Ambiance method proved to connect very well to this program. At the ‘t Goylaan, we were asked to redesign the street, now dominated by traffic, as a part of the ‘city boulevard’ ambition. Following our Functional Ambiance approach, we sketched the ‘t Goylaan as a part of a lush green boulevard and as a place that connects neighbourhoods. At the Maliebaan on the other hand, the atmosphere of the street is already special and needs to be cherished. The wish to create comfortable routes for bicycles led to a set of possible new profiles. The result of the workshops is now input for the next step in the municipal design process. And at the Adriaen van Ostadelaan we sketched on how to go from a junction to a square together with stakeholders in the area.

The methodology has proved its value in a broader context. In Zwolle we were asked to support the first design phase for the southern station area. The station and its surroundings are in a process of complete renewal. We used the Functional Ambiance methodology as a tool for analysing three comparable station areas. We studied the behaviour of people and traffic on the squares, and translated this into a possible organisation of the new square that integrates large traffic flows with the square as a meeting place.