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This academic research explored the Dutch urban shopping arcade from an urban design perspective. Many words have been written about urban arcades, each from their own perspective, such as architecture, real-estate or anthropology. But how do urban arcades work inside a city? How do they fit into their urban context? And more importantly, how does this context help these arcades succeed?


In cooperation with the Multi Development Corporation, this research has studied sixteen shopping arcades in ten medium sized Dutch inner cities. These arcades were analyzed on three scale levels: the city, the block and the arcade itself. On these three levels, a range of analysis methods have been used to gain insight into their location, integration, connection and design. These analysis methods vary from quantitative methods such as Space Syntax and Visibility Graphs, and qualitative methods such as morphological studies, and townscape analyses.


After the arcades were analyzed, a conclusion has been given on their performance from an urban design perspective. Also, recommendations were given in order to improve their performance. Using proxy indicators, the performance from an urban design perspective was compared to the performance from a real-estate perspective: are urban arcades that are well located, integrated, connected and designed actually successful investments?


The conclusion was clear: measuring performance of an arcade from an urban design perspective closely correlates to its performance from a real-estate perspective. The combined set of analysis methods proved to be able to give a balanced and precise statement about its performance in reality.

The observations and conclusion from this research were translated into a set of strategies to increase the performance of an arcade from an urban design perspective. The results from this research have been well received and are still used in the development strategy at Multi Development.

The urban shopping arcade