At edge Urban Design we love to explore new places!

We believe that it is crucial to focus not only on delivering results and projects but to get out and about to learn from others, meet people and collaborate! By exploring new places, we endeavour to understand how they function, what makes them great and take design inspiration back into our day to day work.

Over the last few weeks, Sarah and Hannah have been fortunate enough to explore two fantastic European cities – Lisbon and Nantes. Two very different cities, but equally inspiring in their own right.


Lisbon is a city showcasing a vibrant mix of forward-thinking design and a rich cultural history! It is a small city – a city of neighbourhoods – with a big personality where you can truly feel its antiquity clinging to every corner.

Lisbon’s nostalgia is characterised by the century-old wooden trams that lurch up and down the narrow streets and the ability to stroll off the beaten track and wind up in historic neighbourhoods where time seems to stand still. The Parisienne-esque boulevards and grand squares of Baixa are in complete contrast to the narrow, windy and maze-like streets of Alfama and the quirky, steep cobbled streets of Bairro Alto. Built across seven hills, nearly every street’s brow affords immensely satisfying views over the city.

Lisbon is well renowned for its urban street art and at some point over the years, graffiti that was once considered an eyesore graduated into intricate citywide murals. The city plays host to some of the world’s best street artists and makes for increasingly lively and unpredictable streets and spaces.

As with many European ports, Lisbon spent much of the late 20th century turning its back on the messy, and increasingly redundant industrial river banks, however over recent years it has been driving a riverside regeneration. Its gritty, industrial past is being celebrated with contemporary architecture such as the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT) by Amanda Levete and the repurposing of warehouses/workshops into creative hubs and spaces for startups, such as at the LX Factory. This revival has driven many artists and designers to the area, ensuring that Lisbon’s trademark charm is being retained.

Lisbon is a city that has everything and is well deserving of its ranking as one of Europe’s coolest capitals….a real must see!


Nantes is the cultural capital of western France. Arty and creative, it has completely reinvented itself over the last 30 years. Gone is the heavy industry along the Loire; and in its place are green and vibrant streets and spaces, packed with students, ambitious architectural projects and high-tech startups.

On the northern bank of the Loire river, the old quarter of Nantes contains a maze of Art Nouveau and Haussmann-style terraces, overlooked by the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany at the heart of the medieval quarter. Wide boulevards converge on elegant squares, whilst narrow streets are lined with numerous restaurants, cafes and bars, all intertwined with quirky art installations that can be found all over the city. This contrast of streets and spaces ensures Nantes is an architectural melting pot – new bold building projects sit alongside historic landmarks and ancient facades.

Île de Nantes is an island neighbourhood of Nantes located in the city centre, surrounded by the Loire River. The city’s main urban regeneration projects on the Île de Nantes have been at the forefront of planning over the last 20 years and are based on a strong political determination to restructure the city while fostering an economic and social climate that meets today’s needs. With its diverse, vast and widely available spaces featuring an exceptional industrial heritage, the projects offers a unique opportunity to control urban sprawl and build the city of tomorrow. The projects will accommodate all uses whilst focusing on sustainable development and innovation.

Once a bustling node for European shipping, former vast, industrial warehouses have been repurposed to become a hotbed of cultural and artistic expression, whilst contemporary and iconic architecture sits comfortably alongside riverside walks, piers and themed gardens with a number of fun and surreal attractions along the way.

Nantes’ perfect fusion of art, culture and fun lends itself to the creation of a very vibrant, diverse and forward thinking city.