Integrated service provision
We offer clients a wide range of professional services within the broad field of urbanism.
BUUR Part of Sweco always develops a customized approach for the project, as a function of the client´s expectations. In so doing we take a fresh, critical and constructive look at the assignment. We put it into perspective and dare to reformulate the challenges where necessary.
Our services are based on the innovative development of methodologies and instruments. The overview is below. Consult swecobelgium.be for an overview of all services within Sweco.
BUUR focuses strongly on urban renewal projects; from attractive mixed urban developments to village-friendly construction. We prepare master plans for public and private clients. Sometimes on the scale of an urban block, sometimes for an entire district, but always with a view to an integrated approach and the collective added value of these projects.
The role of our master plans can vary widely. From a master plan that forms the basis for the concrete development of a site to strategic master plans in policy-preparing vision formation. Master planning is also an excellent means to spatially test ambitions and ideas within an integrated area development.
We specialize in urban design and design-related research. A customized interactive process harmonizes the ambitions and starting points of clients and stakeholders. This allows us with our designs to formulate innovative and broadly-supported solutions to urban challenges.
In our master plans we combine analysis and design of built-up and open space with customized procedure and stakeholder management, financial feasibility, program research, planning support, mobility, ecology and water management, district-level energy systems … Where our master plans are focused on realization, promotional designs are for the concrete development, our strategic master plans define ambitions, strategies and frames of reference for vision formation and short- and longer-term policy.
We find it important to guarantee continuity and quality assurance, from the master plan through implementation. BUUR likes to support the client in the selection and/or accompaniment of the architects and has all the necessary expertise in house for the study‐assignment for laying out the outside space. The environmental permit for subdividing lands can also be entrusted to BUUR.
Both construction and infrastructure projects and urban and rural development projects require in every case a proper weighing of environmental factors and preconditions. We map out a project´s opportunities and challenges, without losing sight of the requirements set by the owner or initiator. BUUR conducts a multidisciplinary study of the financial, technical, spatial and environmental aspects of a project. We actively help look for solutions that increase a project´s feasibility.
The feasibility of a project depends on the degree to which it relates to its environment: a good landscape and spatial integration, balanced access; in short, with a scale and dimension that does not divert any impacts.
We specialize in the analysis of environmental and mobility impacts. By mapping out the ecological and health effects on human beings and the environment from the very start of a project, we also think immediately about attenuating, mitigating or compensatory measures. This makes it possible to integrate them into the project in good time and to adjust the project or to provide alternatives. This approach offers a major guarantee for a feasible and realizable project, with the necessary support base amongst the residents involved, advisory bodies or permit-granting authorities.
A proper place of establishment for economic activities, balanced opening and the embedding in a broader social fabric are the key factors for a sound and dynamic local and regional economic climate. For BUUR, the importance of the spatial organization of the economic fabric, as well as the knowledge of the spatial economy, is self-evident. Our specific approach is distinctive, however.
We study – together with the key private and public players involved – the social integration and added value of economic development projects. The interweaving of functions and circularity plays a crucial role here. On the basis of e.g. program studies, scenario development and cost-benefit analyses, we support vision and coalition formation around projects such as circular economy, integration of the manufacturing industry and the combination of living and working.
The quest of cities for new forms of production and services and their integration into the urban fabric is complex. We note that the usual linear trajectory of design – implementation – use doesn’t correspond to the rapidly evolving programs of requirements tailored to the economic players. In order to achieve sustainable economic development, we work on different scale levels, with attention for both bottom-up and top-down processes. This requires a broad knowledge of and an integral approach to urban development with attention for spatial design.
Our team sees the role of the urban developer in this type of project shifting from ‘master planner’ to ‘partner in transition’. The end product isn’t a blueprint that proposes what the built-up space will look like, but a transition strategy with concrete strategic actions.
On the local, provincial and regional levels, BUUR conducts strategic research and we work on ambitious visions and policy plans. We are strong in strategic spatial plans and always approach them with an interdisciplinary perspective and approach.
We formulate strategies for center reinforcement, densification and interweaving, or we focus on ecological, recreational and mobility networks in a broader region. Because a city or region can be conceived not only by experts, we always follow an open research and participation trajectory for this. Local and regional knowledge of a wide range of users is crucial in the process of forming a strategic policy plan, since it must create the framework for concrete projects of private and public owners.
Strategic planning processes are usually policy-preparing or policy-forming studies. Via data analysis, stakeholder surveys, sectoral visions and design-related research, we develop scenarios and lay out potential strategies. We also like to help clients think about how these strategic visions can be converted into policy instruments, investment programs and concrete actions.
Working on the strategic level demands an extensive process approach, where stakeholders, policy makers and the general public are brought together in a carefully-conceived process in working groups, discussion circles and decision-making boards. Bringing people or organizations together often also plants the seeds for later collaborations and pilot projects.
BUUR has the expertise to deploy the right spatial instruments in order to give strength to a vision and make it achievable. After all, challenging projects generally have a broad scope and it is necessary to harmonize them with the preconditions deriving from environmental law and the interests of the stakeholders. Every local situation is different and demands a targeted approach and the proper use of instruments.
Our many years of experience in spatial planning, urban development and the environment have allowed us to build up wide-ranging expertise concerning numerous instruments in Flanders, Brussels and Wallonia. By accompanying various government authorities we have amassed excellent knowledge from the practice of spatial policy plans, spatial implementation plans, regulations, environmental impact reporting, environmental permits, as well as nature tests and appropriate assessments.
For complex assignments we go through the complex projects procedure, or we opt for a process architecture that brings together all of the necessary instruments in an integrated planning process.
It is crucial to carefully define the problem and clearly formulate the policy assignment, because from this follows the achievement of a policy objective or development project and the overall efficiency of a process. BUUR gives strategic advice in this crucial beginning phase of a project. We help to establish the framework, interpret the preconditions, map out the context and set the priorities.
A first step is the proper definition of the question, selecting the key issues, exploring obstacles and searching for levers and partners, in order to then proceed with vision formation, solution directions, scenario testing and advising for the short and longer term. In this way we propose well-considered and future-oriented choices.
We accompany the strategic communication vis-à-vis stakeholders and also lay out a carefully considered trajectory for the smooth implementation of the project.
Data and knowledge underpin every step in a project. Using GIS and FTE, we collect geographical and other quantitative data. On the basis of surveys or open data platforms, we also support participation in data collection and quality assessments. This enables us to create a clear cartographic underlay, but also to develop spatial models for scenario research.
Together with research institutes, strategic partners and other divisions, BUUR focuses on systems thinking and addressing complex social tasks. This requires integration of data systems and interactive processes for evaluation and monitoring. Innovation in the area of data scraping, modelling and visualization are central to this effort.
Design of public space
BUUR designs public spaces both within and outside of cities and municipalities: from parks, squares and streets to integrated visions about the open space in a whole district or center. In so doing, we accompany the entire process from analysis & vision through to implementation.
Our public spaces give a physical form and manifestation to our society. They are places where a large share of public life goes on and people meet one another, hence it is extremely important to assume responsibility for the identity, character and appearance of our parks, squares, and streets and their significance in our collective memory. They are precisely where a healthy social fabric can grow that binds communities together.
We therefore pay careful attention to the specificity and the history of the place and integrate into each project the climate-adaptive measures that are necessary in order to create a pleasant and healthy living environment. The design process demands a respectful approach which is closely linked to the expectations and values of residents, visitors and users.
Landscape visions and ecology
BUUR creates visions about the layout of landscape and public space at the level of a district, municipality, city or region. In so doing we put integral ecosystems at the center and strive for an optimal interweaving of water and nature, food production, built-up space and soft networks. In so doing we see several landscape challenges, such as the lack of open space and/or the fragmentation of this open space, climate adaptation …
That is translated firstly into visions about the integration of urban programs, renewable energy, infrastructure into the landscape and secondly into visions and designs of new landscape and nature developments. Our added value lies in the bringing together of urban development, landscape, ecological heritage, hydrological and technical and process-related aspects.
BUUR designs infrastructure for all modes of transport. The spatial design of the infrastructure begins from approaches of equal value: the design and quality requirements of the infrastructure and its users and the environmental characteristics. We build up the infrastructure based on a multimodal approach and integrate it into the environment.
Infrastructure design is not merely the design of the road, bicycle path or tram line, but also the creation of new places and public spaces. Therefore addressing infrastructure demands an interdisciplinary approach with a strong interaction between the social aspect, urban planning, urban development, landscape and ecology, mobility planning and modelling and the technical feasibility. This integral working method contributes to the formation of a social support base and ensures that the procedures advance smoothly.
Design of structural works
Within the framework of laying out public spaces and infrastructure design, BUUR creates architectural structures (canopies, bridges, tunnels). We do this in an integral manner that is embedded in the urban development and landscape context. We define the program of the structural work and give it meaning within the context. Together with our infrastructure and building experts we follow an integrated construction methodology and translate this into an appropriate architectural design. The ambition is to design integral and contextual structural works.
For BUUR, mobility is about increasing accessibility while at the same time decreasing car-dependency. We achieve this by coordinating the expansion of the transport offer with a carefully thought-out spatial policy that emphasizes center reinforcement and spatial developments around nodal points in the network.
When planning networks, our priority lies on improving traffic safety, especially for pedestrians and cyclists. From this perspective, BUUR accompanies its clients towards a more sustainable mobility.
All too often, precious space is still being taken up by stationary cars. It is therefore crucial to accompany drivers in the shift from car ownership to combined use, so that there is more room for lively and attractive streets and squares. Transport planning on a regional scale offers us the possibility to implement innovative models for connecting public transport and cycling networks, multimodal transfer or nodal points and coordination between the mobility and spatial policies. Within these frameworks we guide behavioral change of users and encourage reduction in travel demand.
BUUR develops both local and regional mobility plans, as well as parking policy plans and circulation plans. BUUR conducts mobility impact studies within the framework of projects and plans.
BUUR uses objective data and calculation methods to analyze design- and policy-related scenarios and to justify decisions. Under the motto ‘measuring is knowing’ we use quantitative and qualitative research in order to objectify and interpret design and policy issues. This offers a foothold and insights to mobility planners and infrastructure designers, but also to policy makers and citizens.
Traffic-technical research includes e.g. designing traffic light rules, performing traffic simulations on the micro, meso and macro scales as well as pedestrian simulation, ITS studies and traffic and parking research (including with Mobile Mapping and ANPR). With such targeted studies we try to provide alternatives in the design process.
Under the ‘Less Nuisance’ component belong studies aimed at keeping the nuisance for road users as low as possible when road works are being done. Thereby we also implicitly encourage a modal shift towards public transport and active means of transport. All possible ‘Less Nuisance’ measures – from signalization through detours to temporary structures – are examined on the cost-benefit level and worked out in detail. During the works, the impact is monitored and the measures are adjusted as necessary.
BUUR accompanies clients through the complex design and development process that arises in connection with urban projects and visions. On the basis of their rich experience, BUUR’s process managers and project directors methodically steer policy issues and developmental trajectories. We are specialized in communication and participation in regional and project development, infrastructure projects, and nature and landscape design.
We personally examine possible programs and test their feasibility on the social, financial and technical levels. With cutting-edge knowledge of instruments and procedures, we make sure that complex projects have the best chances of success. We take an integrated approach when explaining the scheduling of a project. The potential study and implementation planning, the legal or procedural trajectory and the internal and external consultation moments are merged into a single process. Designing the architecture of a process is a critical success factor for every project.
Environment and stakeholder management
The implementation of projects demands a high degree of shared understanding between government authorities and citizens. Environment management seeks and creates a support base, brings interests into balance and eliminates obstacles. Our experts are well-grounded in methodologies for making such trajectories a success. We are specialized in handling communication and participation in regional development, infrastructure projects and the design of the living environment. We understand every project as a transformation process and in each case we custom design a process with sufficient interplay between the design and the participation.
Participation and co-creation
BUUR mobilizes broad participation trajectories, in an open dialogue with key players from the public and private sectors, from civil society and within neighborhoods. Participation is organized as early as possible in an assignment: from the analysis, conceptualization through to execution and management. If desired, city debates, design workshops, information markets or consultation meetings are organized. These participation moments are supported by digital platforms that promote interaction, knowledge exchange and inclusion.
In the framework of the projects we also look for potential quick-wins and bottom-up initiatives that we can initiate together with local partners as a form of placemaking. With our professional support we guarantee quality during the development process itself and we make sure that such initiatives are upscaled.
Sustainability and environment impact assessment
BUUR stands for an integrated approach to sustainability from the start-up of any plan or project. We strive for an optimal balance between the project and its impact on people, the environment and well-being. We try to make this impact as positive as possible and we combine it with a maximum of spatial and process quality. For this we deploy a variety of tools, depending on the project’s scope: an integral sustainability assessment, an environmental impact study, an energy balance or a more focused assessment of (e.g.) health effects and climate impact. In this way the impact study receives a central place in our procedure and its conclusions flow directly into the plan or project.
In an environmental impact study, after a first definition of the assignment, we immediately perform a screening of the potential environmental and health effects. Via this ‘quick-scan’ we identify as rapidly as possible preconditions and points of attention and we investigate how the project or plan can also take these into account or will have to be adjusted to accommodate them. This is an iterative process whereby the plan or project is in permanent interaction with the environmental study and is further shaped through advancing insight into the potential impact on its environment. In this way, attenuating or mitigating measures are avoided as much as possible or are directly integrated into the plan or project.