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  • Author or Editor: Szabolcs Portschy x
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The city of Almere, which is one of the four main cities in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area, has been among the fastest growing cities in Europe ever since it establishment in 1976. The economic and demographic expansion puts significant pressure on valuable green areas around Amsterdam, and Almere has both space and potential for growth. Already at the time of its creation, the plans of a multiple-core structure city attracted mixed reviews, leading urban designers calling it ‘an anti-city’. However, with time it has developed into a mature, healthy and sustainable urban environment. With the new expansion that would add 60.000 new dwellings and 100.000 new jobs by 2030, the city faces new challenges, which require visionary strategic planning once again.

The intended growth of Almere is planned to take place in an ecologically, socially and economically sustainable fashion. To achieve this and to inspire contribution to future developments, the city has defined seven principles in concurrence with international sustainability experts.

Community participation is one of the strongest principals in this innovative place-making experiment. Creators of the new strategic vision imagine large-scale citizen involvement, bottomup community and private initiative through empowerment and ownership, from the design phase to the implementation. They aim far beyond the design character of the buildings, including among others the design of the urban fabric and the supporting infrastructure as well. This paper intends to describe and examine the potential growth and the urban development of Almere from a complex perspective, with a special focus on community design.

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Community approach in architecture — an active involvement of different stakeholders (customers, users) or a wider range of citizens in the planning — building — urban renewal process — has been present for over a half-century. This paper intends to provide a brief summary on the history of community design — university partnerships with an outlook on the Hungarian community design practice and, in particular, the work and teaching methodology of the St. Joseph Studio Collegium, a Hungarian education oriented community design center.

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