17 May 2023 News

These design studios will tackle mixed-use areas

In already the third What if Lab in collaboration with Sweco, Starling Associates, Space&Matter, and cocosmos will each be working on their own concept or solution for future-proof living, working, and living environments in areas with friction. Areas where industry is opposed to housing, mobility to liveability or nature to agriculture, where mixed-use functions take place. In the lab ‘Rethinking shared space’ Sweco is looking for hybrid and adaptive solutions in which both social cohesion and connection with nature have their place. The designers will work together with experts within Sweco, each working on the issue from a different perspective. Want to know more about the selected designers? Then read on!

On 16 May at the Sweco office, in Eindhoven, the official kick-off of the lab took place. On this day the Sweco experts and the designers met for the first time. The three studios presented briefly about their design backgrounds and talked about projects they have done before. The designers were also presented with two potential client cases, actual mixed-use areas that can serve as a basis and inspiration for the lab.

Circular Living Lab
De Ceuvel


This design question will be approached by Space&Matter from a spatial perspective. Space&Matter is an architecture and urban design studio focused on circular and community-led design. They believe combining social and environmental responsibility is the only way to create thriving spaces. To ensure that they kept on innovating for positive impact, they launched their Research & Design LAB — rethinking and redesigning for future sustainable systems.

The studio designs innovative projects, developing future-proof residential, work, and living environments. Examples include De Ceuvel, a circularity playground with shared workspaces, and the Circular Living Lab project in Finland. The studio is experienced in facilitating action research and co-design processes like Co-Operate, and creating collective living communities such as Schoonschip and Wij_land.

“In our projects we aim to balance social, environmental, and economic values. Shared spaces have the potential for these integrated and adaptive solutions. The What if Lab is an opportunity to learn and collaborate with like-minded organisations to uncover innovative ideas in the spatial domain while integrating different layers in the built environment through systemic design.” – Space&Matter


Starling Associates

Looking at this design question from a digital perspective we have Starling Associates. Starling Associates is a spatial insight, strategy, and design studio that creates positive landscapes at the nexus of nature, humanity, and technology. They embrace the beautiful intricacies of our ecosystems through an understanding of the complex interactions between social and ecological actors. By combining innovative design and intelligent software strategies they integrate nature-based knowledge, foster spatial stewardship and create regenerative spaces.

As a newly hatched collaborative with fresh ambitions, Starling Studio develops new horizons for the landscapes of today and tomorrow through nature-based design solutions, such as Landslice. These projects are supported through the birds-eye-views given by the instruments in Starling Cloud, such as Valuescapes, that provides spatial insight into the ecological and social potential of our landscape.

“As nature shows us, creation is always a union, grounded within an evolving context. This What if Lab presents that very setting. Cohesion and connection are prerequisites for the balanced environments of the future. We look forward to creating multiscale solutions that integrate a multitude of qualities, through a collaboration with our fellow designers that fosters those very same conditions.” – Lars van Vianen (Starling)

Knoop XL


Last but not least, cocosmos is approaching this from a social domain. cocosmos is an Eindhoven-based design-research agency. cocosmos guides co-creation processes in urban development. They see challenges where they as designers – together with stakeholders – can contribute to shaping inclusive cities and societies and the ways in which people live together. The studio develops appealing instruments to investigate motives and bring together very different people and interests.

Previous projects include De Deelhub, where the studio explored incentives to get people to share transportation and designed a multi-functional hub for the public space. Knoop XL was an interactive exhibition for urban development that aims to stimulate the imagination of residents and visitors to the city, and was exhibited during Dutch Design Week 2 years in a row,

“How do we deal with areas where multiple purposes have to come together? This inevitably leads to conflicting perspectives, but as design researchers, we view these differences as productive and valuable. We bring these interests together through co-creation. By giving all stakeholders a voice and role in the development process we strive to realise potential added value when a spatial development takes place.” -Philémonne Jaasma (cocosmos)