We are very happy to announce that our New Towns elective course in collaboration with the International New Towns Institute will start again in April 2016! In this special edition, we’ll be focusing on Havana, the capital of Cuba. Enrollment for this course starts next Monday, 23 November.
Havana is a city at the cusp of enormous change; the communist government is gradually opening up its economic system, while the United States are relaxing their boycott. This means that one of the most beautiful historic cities, with one of the most spectacular positions around a deepwater bay on the Caribbean, is open for the forces of the globalized economy.
In its existence of more than half a century shielded from capitalist pressures, it has however developed some unique characteristics and strengths. It has one of the most complete systems of urban agriculture, managing to feed virtually the entire city. It has a healthcare system based on prevention which makes it both cheap and effective. And its beautiful 17th century downtown area is one of the most impressive examples of development through heritage conservation. When Havana will change, will these qualities survive, or will they be sacrificed to a neo-liberal redevelopment strategy? The question this project wants to answer is how Havana can have its own specific form of urban transformation, that will redefine its strengths,in the context of an open society and an open economy. With INTI we will try and answer these questions by focusing on one of Havana’s youngest and most adventurous areas, the New Town of Alamar, large urban area with mainly prefab apartment blocks with 90.000 inhabitants, on the eastern side of Havana.
The project will consist of a number of lectures, a two week study trip together with the International New Town Institute, the CUJAE University of Havana and the Embassy of The Netherlands in Cuba. More info here
Humanitas, a nursing home in Deventer, the Netherlands, accepts local students to live in their home for free, under one condition: the group of students must spent 30 hours each month with (some of) the 160 senior residents. The project aims to create positive social interactions, beneficial to all inhabitants of Humanitas, both students and elderly. By doing this, Humanitas intends to improve the liveability and ‘community feeling’ of the residents of the nursing home and neighbourhood. According to Humanitas managing director, Gea Sijpkes, ‘students bring the outside world in’.
Today, a trend of decentralizing healthcare can be recognized. Budget cuts by the Dutch government have made it increasingly difficult to get a subsidised place, with the paradoxical consequence that some nursing homes are left with empty rooms. This current ‘emptying out of the care homes’, the closing down of medical centres, and the shift to providing healthcare at regular homes instead of moving people into care homes, creates lots of vacant real estate in the middle of our cities and communities. As a result also social functions are disappearing. This has an especially large impact on areas built in the years after World War 2, in which neighbourhoods where carefully planned around nursing homes and other social real-estate.
Much international attention was paid in the news about the young students moving into the nursing home in Deventer. Considering this a social solution, would it also be possible to come up with spatial solutions in order to redefine buildings and places left open because of the transformation of the healthcare system? How can a neighbourhood be intensified as a meeting place? And how can architectural design contribute to social integration and innovation between the young and old?
The Chief Government Architect of the Netherlands (de Rijksbouwmeester) has asked Design as Politics to start a research and design project to explore the spatial dimensions of the changing health care system as part of his programme ‘Oog voor de buurt.’ We have involved some of our best students, the International New Town Institute and two talented young designers to conduct this research. Two locations have recently been selected as our case studies. In close collaboration with the involved municipalities, the health care organisations and other related insititutions we will look for option to find new ways to strengthen the relationship between the nursing house and the neighbourhood. The aim is to find solutions that can be applicable to other locations as well.
Read more about this project on the website of the Chief Government Architect (in Dutch): http://www.collegevanrijksadviseurs.nl/actueel/nieuws/2015/10/10/oog-voor-de-buurt-ontwerp-verbindt
We have two amazing public lectures coming up next week as part of our graduation studio Lets Work! – Industry, Architecture and the City.
The first is on Monday 29 September, by Design as Politics professor’ Wouter Vanstiphout about the theme of this year’s graduation studio and what this means for Architecture and Urban Design. Albert Kahn’s daylight factory, Cedric Price’s Fun Palace, the precariat, robotization, off- and onshoring, the share economy. It’s all part of this brand new Design as Politics lecture! So join us on Monday 28 Sept. at 08:45 in Room B at the TU Delft Faculty of Architecture.
For the second lecture we’ve invited Economic Geographer and Urban Planner Ronald Wall – head of the Urban Competitiveness and Resilience department at the Erasmus University. Ronald will give an interesting perspective to the topic of work and urban development. He will talk about the relationship between global and local economic development, urban competitiveness and what this means for the design of our cities. The lecture takes place on Tuesday 29 September at 15:45 – 17:15, , TU Delft Faculty of Architecture, Room B
Wall is specialised in urban economic development, city network analysis and urban planning. He worked for various mayor urban planning offices like OMA, MVRDV and West 8 as well as for the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment (VROM) – working on planning in China, Ghana, South Africa, South Korea and various European countries. He worked for the Berlage Institute / South Korean government on the development of a new town in South Korea and worked with Volume/AMO and the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council, on research concerning Middle Eastern cities and their economic networks with other cities around the world.
We have two amazing Design as Politics / International New Towns lectures scheduled tomorrow afternoon! We’ll start at 13:45 with a lecture by Design as Politics’ Wouter Vanstiphout about two late/postmodern New Towns: Milton Keynes in the UK and Cergy Pontoise in France, followed by a presentation by the architect and professor at the Technical University of Cuba, Jorge Pena at 16:00.
Jorge will not just talk about Havana as it is, but especially about the major changes it will go through and is already going through now that the country is opening up economically and politically, and the harbour will be moved from old Havana to another location, opening up huge development opportunities for this beautiful but fragile city. Jorge will be introduced by Michelle Provoost, director of the International New Town Institute – the co-organizer of this event. More info here
Hope to see you all tomorrow afternoon in room A
On Tuesday 2 June, Jorge Peña Díaz (architect and professor on Urban Design at the CUJAE University of Havana Cuba) will give a lecture about the recent past and near future of the fascinating city of Havana, the capital of Cuba, entitled: Havana 2015 – Paths and patterns of urban development. The lecture addresses the current patterns of urban development in Havana, using the results of the project Atlas Urbano de La Habana (Urban Atlas of Havana). This project consisted of the mapping of Havana as a research tool in order to understand both the specificities of the current urban situation and the milestones it has followed. This analysis allows to understand the impact of the economic and political crisis of the 90´s in the urban structure of Havana. It also shows the fabric on top of which both internal structural changes and foreign factors have been and will be operating.
The lecture also addresses the most pressing urban questions that Havana is facing at this moment, among which is the transformation of the harbour of Havana. The historic harbour, dating back to the beginning of colonial time, has functionally been replaced by another harbour, leaving the old harbour to be redeveloped. Now that Cuba is opening up to the outside world, which direction will the transformation take? Will it remain true to its heritage value and Cuban identity or follow the commercially profitable way of generic leisure harbour development?
Michelle Provoost will give an introduction to Jorge Peña’s lecture, on the links between Havana and INTI‘s students exchange program. The New Towns near Havana have an interesting background and urgent challenges to be solved. At the moment of Castro’s Revolution in 1959, the urban development of this bustling metropolis came to a grinding halt. While the city was in the midst of the transformation into a second Las Vegas or Miami, all investments were nationalised and development stopped. The only new part of the city built by the communist regime is the infamous Alamar, a Soviet-style New Town for ca. 100.000 inhabitants, which has become well known for its urban agriculture and its hip hop scene. Seen as a unattractive place to live, the crumbling Alamar is in urgent need of new ideas to connect it to the maelstrom of development that Havana will see.
Jorge Peña Díaz is an architect and professor on Urban Design at the Department for Architectural and Urban Design, Faculty of Architecture, CUJAE [Technical University Havana], Cuba. He is teaching on Planning and Heritage conservation and is also head of the Research Group for Urban Research and Action. Apart from his university work, Jorge is also a member of the Expert technical committee for research on urbanism and housing policy of the Ministry of Construction, a member of the experts advisory group for Havana´s city planning and guest Expert to the COST Urban Agriculture Europe Project, RWTH, Aachen.