Impact story

Design to build upon rural identities in urban planning

The increasing urban sprawl (the rapid expansion of the geographic extent of cities and towns) in Europe is causing land-use conflicts. Nearly 73% of the European population lives in cities, and this proportion is estimated to reach 82% by 2050. As a consequence, rural municipalities tend to be engulfed by growing metropoles, at the cost of the typical rural character and the social identity of the local rural communities.


The municipality of Veldhoven is part of the Eindhoven Metropolitan Region in the Netherlands. It is an administrative cooperation between 21 municipalities in the southeast of the Dutch province of Noord-Brabant. In the second half of the twentieth century, the four former villages Veldhoven Dorp, Meerveldhoven, Zeelst and Oerle, became one large built-up area due to the construction of new housing estates. In a recent spatial plan, a new structure is being put forward: The Urban Axis. What does this Urban Axis entail and what will it look like?


During a two-day workshop, a joint basis was laid for the further elaboration of the Urban Axis concept by means of creative sessions. Policy Officers from the municipality, housing corporations, representatives from the culture sector and the business community, worked together and studied themes, such as: village character, 24-hour dynamics, variety and unity, 'green-space', connecting and inviting. In iterative sketching sessions the participants mapped out opportunities and bottlenecks. The overarching design of the Urban Axis is envisioned as a 'string of pearls', in which the characteristic locations (the pearls) are connected and strengthened through modifications to the existing infrastructure.

The urban axis is a sparkling design, like a 'string of pearls'

Impact and future perspective

The process has brought together the various stakeholders, while creating ownership of the jointly produced spatial plan. The plan has been incorporated in the inter-municipal structural concept.