In the mix: DIALOGers share their favourite examples of mixed use from around the world
What makes mixed use developments so interesting? We love this perspective from Tyler Dixon, principal and architect in our Edmonton studio:
“I find mixed use really interesting for a number of reasons: 1) the mash up of different uses allows us to further our understanding of what ‘amenity’ means when we want to create truly walkable, complete neighbourhoods; 2) our buildings need to evolve beyond a static, singular view of what they may have been designed for originally; and 3) the space between becomes something other that is more than the sum of its parts.”
We asked a few DIALOGers for good examples of mixed-use around the world, and here’s what they had to say:
Principal and Architect
A few years ago, my sister and her family were living in the Netherlands, and we had the good fortune to go and visit them. Across their street, there was a petting zoo/children’s park/senior’s centre. As I looked into this a bit further, I found that there were a lot of Dutch petting zoos that were strategically placed as an amenity for both young and old to enjoy with obvious benefits to community wellbeing. As a strategy, I found this absolutely fascinating.
For the classic ‘space in between’ becoming more than the sum of its parts, just think of town squares and great piazzas: A clash of history and often religion, but still being widely used in a contemporary fashion with food and beverage spilling into and out them, kids playing soccer, people peddling wares, transit hubs creating ebbs and flows of people, and tourists wanting to see and be seen in the action. A few great examples: Granville Island, Crosstown Concourse, Dairy Block (Denver) and NSCAD (in the historic properties).
Union Station in Denver – A renowned 100-yr-old historic landmark has transformed into the city’s living room. At any given time of the day, the place is bustling with citizens and visitors alike, taking its multi-modal transit system, shopping or dining at its various cafes, bars and restaurants; or, simply studying at a library desk or hanging out with friends over a game or on comfortable couches in mini living rooms. There’s a hotel opening into the great hall that was built into the existing structure, capturing Denver’s history. This building has truly revitalized the surrounding community.
Principal and Architect
I’m very interested in many of the new mixed use developments in The Arts District in Downtown Los Angeles. If I had to pick a specific project here, it would be ROW DTLA.
The ROW DTLA redevelopment is a great example of adaptive reuse, transforming the old L.A. Terminal Market into a neighborhood that weaves together a variety of retail, restaurants and creative offices spaces, with amenities, festivals and onsite events.
The whole Arts District is such a unique redevelopment in itself; with a diverse mix of uses, interesting transformations of new builds and adaptive reuse, it feels like an organic process that is continually evolving.
While completing my architectural education at Dalhousie University, I did an internship with Barton Myers in Los Angeles and became interested in the Downtown areas and ended up doing my Masters thesis project on a site similar to The Arts District. My focus was on how specific architectural interventions could help to trigger redevelopment and reinvestment downtown to generate community based redevelopment.
The Arts District is the real world case study of how this works and how it can lead to a new and exciting neighborhood. The whole area has been transformed into a new, livable, mixed use community.
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