BURA urbanism is an internationally operating office for urban design, research and (landscape) architecture. We focus on socially relevant projects and urgent spatial challenges. Our office provides solutions for the sustainable development and transformation of the urban landscape, through focused urban design strategies, innovative research and architectural interventions. BURA adopts an exploratory and cooperative design approach in bringing together parties and supervising spatial processes from idea to implementation. We search for synthesis between orgware, software and hardware in urban environments. Our office has expertise in the following areas: complex urban developments, new residential and working districts, station areas, landscape visions, re-use and transformation, urban and regional economy, energy transition, healthy urbanisation.
BURA stands for:
- Designing sustainable urban environments
- Research and design
- Urban craftsmanship
In 2020 the former name of the office ‘marco.broekman urbanism research architecture’ evolved into ‘BURA urbanism’ as abbreviation of Broekman Urbanism Research Architecture. After five successful years of ‘marco.broekman’, the office was ready for its next step. Next to the new name, Floris van der Zee was appointed as partner of Marco Broekman in BURA. The new name also reflects the teamwork that this office stands for. BURA works with a team of 15 urban planners, architects and landscape architects and is based in Loods 6 in Amsterdam.
Designing sustainable urban environments
BURA has the mission to develop sustainable solutions for urban issues. The office wants to design environments where people can work and live in a healthy and sustainable way, in balance with a resilient ecosystem. The 21st century city has many challenges that require spatial changes. In doing so, we see the city as a problem cause (air pollution, congestion, inequality etc), but at the same time it is also the place of innovation and renewal. The existing city with its users, location-specific features and historical development forms the basis for our plans. The task of contemporary urban transformations requires a multidisciplinary and integrated approach, in which the designer must also have insight into the spatial, financial and organizational context of a project. In our view, a sustainable city is also a learning city that is open to experiments, where connections are made between places, people, disciplines, sectors, governments and other parties involved.
Marco Broekman has over 20 years of experience in designing complex urban plans. After Kaap3 (Riek Bakker) and Karres and Brands, he started his design office 2014. Here urgent assignments and societal challenges are linked to concrete design projects, in which the complexity is made intelligible and the solution directions clear from a spatial perspective.
Research and design
The office works on various types of projects. In addition to urban plans and spatial strategies, design research forms a complementary part of the work. This diversity is essential for knowledge improvement, innovation and renewal. The urban plans we work on are concrete projects such as: Merwede (Utrecht), Hembrug (Zaanstad) and Schieoevers Noord (Delft). Our approach in spatial strategies is characterized by an open process form where assignment and solution are often not entirely clear at the start. By means of interactive workshops and the development of (spatial) scenarios we arrive at widely supported strategic visions. Examples are the urban exploration Houten, Landschapspark Zuidvleugel and Station Almere. In addition, BURA is working on various projects where, through research by design, new urgent themes are questioned and spatial opportunities and impact are represented. In this way we continuously develop new knowledge and insights through projects such as the Circular Beurskwartier (Utrecht), the Energy Transition MRA (Amsterdam), The Productive City (MRDH), KAdE (Eindhoven) and FLEX TEST ROC (Amsterdam). Research by design always takes place on different scale levels and with a variety of stakeholders. The knowledge improvement in these projects is used in concrete urban plans. In addition, we are able to place urgent assignments on the agenda and we can also develop new design methods such as scenario techniques and mapping based on data application and GIS.
Urban craftsmanship plays an important role within our office. Spatial transformations must deliver pleasantly functioning and attractive urban spaces for the long term, leaving space for the unexpected. The history of the place, its (future) users and the (in)visible structures give reasons for new transformations, which are part of a larger story. With the help of imagination, clear visualization techniques and analytical skills, we can communicate and substantiate our message. Often we design the urban development plans to a typological architectural level, to test how the urban development plan works. We therefore design urban plans with architectural knowledge, but do not want to make any architecture ourselves. That makes us independent, because we can always be open within a project for different forms of architecture that fit the context of a project. From the various quality teams BURA operates in, he has experience with guiding different architects, and he can very well switch between different levels of abstraction. Part of the craftsmanship is also the strong relationship between urban planning and the planned economic knowledge needed to make plans feasible.
Our attitude is characterized by the will to realize sustainable spatial quality through co-operation, in which we want to create progressive plans with social support, while paying attention to detail and local sensitivities. That is why we start each project with an open attitude to the task, the process and the stakeholders involved. For us, content and process are strongly intertwined. We use the design to get parties on board, but also to identify dilemmas and choices. To this end, we have developed various methods and we stand for an integrated approach in which multidisciplinary co-operation is important. The time has passed that some parties can develop a blueprint vision from above. We must actively involve parties so that acceptance, renewal and enrichment of the plans can take place. Our projects often have several clients, including the municipality, and a variety of types of stakeholders such as users, entrepreneurs, residents and future residents and collectives. In such a complex process it is of great value that we can operate from an independent role. Such a complex project requires a clear and structured process in terms of steps, but also adaptive ability of the design team, to answer ad hoc questions in the interim or to review the process with the clients. As an office we are service-oriented and flexible to the client, but if necessary we will also be critical to the process and make this negotiable.