How it all started

World of Walas was founded in 2010 by Gerben van Straaten after over 25 years of experience working with cities, academia, governments and business on large, complex developments. Inspired by the Earth Charter and the likes of economist Jan Pen and urbanist Jane Jacobs, Walas has proven models that retain the DNA of communities with significantly less investment upfront, and financial returns that are comparable or better. We listen to communities and bring innovations and partners together for them in ways that produce exponential results. Working primarily in North America and Europe, we continue to build on our successes and are growing exponentially through ongoing projects, partnerships and acquisitions.

A fundamentally different approach

We have a fundamentally different approach to traditional development. World of Walas believes that cities start with people. With new ideas for old buildings and sound business practice, we create places where people want to live, work, produce and participate. Finding that balance in ways that are economically, environmentally and socially sustainable is a unique challenge every time. We engage in all aspects of urban development and redevelopment including concept and design, development and construction, project management, property management and access to innovations.

“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”
-Jane Jacobs

Urban development

Our job is urban development in the broadest sense of the word. For Walas, urban development means  more than real estate and area development. Urban development brings the activities, wishes and interests of people and cities together for a vital and lively whole. Our core business is effective, sustainable programming in close connection with the residents and users of the cities. We’ve proven this leads to multiple value development: economic, social, cultural, sustainable, ecological and financial.

Walas carefully works to balance all the components of urban development and redevelopment. This is a challenge every time. Why is one area attractive and effective and the other is not? Why does one city function better than another? When is redevelopment successful?

Walas understands the complex of physical, structural, social and economic conditions that help areas develop in to vital and dynamic living communities. Authentic elements hold the DNA of the community. Multi use, effective density and diversity create a compact melting pot of people and their activities, of functions and buildings that keep neighbourhoods lively. Places to live, work, shop and relax. Learn, create, entrepreneur and participate. Grow, develop and be productive. Old and new buildings. Young and old people.

The current practice of urban development is characterized by a series of highly specialized stakeholders, who are involved in the development for just a short period of time to maximize the profit of their own company quickly. Players are Last in, First Out. This does not benefit the developments and has led to rampant property development, inflated prices and high vacancy. The development of buildings has become a goal in itself. Walas goes back to what is actually needed for the city: true urban development where the needs of the city and her residents are served and monitored in order to succeed.