The fourteenth edition of Europan, an innovative housing design competition for young architects, took ‘Productive Cities’ as its theme, addressing the negative issues around mono-functional urban neighbourhoods. From a series of sites across Europe we chose to develop a scheme in Amiens, France, a successful university city that struggles to retain students after graduation, and with an increasingly isolated aging population. Our urban strategy for the site – a post-industrial landscape of truncated railways, river and woodland – envisaged a more connected neighbourhood, where a satellite university department co-existed with housing and other uses.