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DETAIL 9/2017 - Concept: Concepts for Mixed Uses

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Cities, Buildings and Their Uses

In the post-war era, metropolitan districts were planned according to strictly functional considerations. There were neighbourhoods for living, for working and for leisure. Anyone who grew up in the 1970s, as I did, will recall the satellite towns that sprang up on the outskirts of conurbations. During the day, they were deserted; the inhabitants drove to work in other areas of town and returned to their places of residence in the evening. The urban centres, where shops and offices were located, were full of life by day, but empty after closing time. What sense would there have been in strolling through deserted pedestrian zones at night or over the weekend?

This strict separation of functions can ultimately be attributed to the Congrès Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne (CIAM) and led to great distortions in the fabric of cities. In Le Corbusier’s rationalist urban utopias, districts were ordered strictly according to function. Even visionary architects like Frank Lloyd Wright failed to recognize the far-reaching problems this implied. Today, however, we are aware of the negative effects of monofunctional metropolitan areas and appreciate interactive neighbourhoods all the more. We have gained new insights into the everyday life 

of cities, which has undergone profound change. Modern concepts combine housing, work and leisure – not just in a particular neighbourhood, but often within a single building – and “mixed uses” has become a magic formula that fascinates architects almost as much as urban planners.

In the September issue of Detail, we present groundbreaking concepts in which housing and shopping, work and leisure are linked, or where a library is combined with a railway station in a single building. With her assiduous choice of projects, Claudia Fuchs demonstrates that virtually no mixture of uses beneath a single roof would be impossible.