Public Lecture by Jorge Peña Díaz


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.

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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 The historic harbour, dating back to the beginning of colonial time, has functionally been replaced by another harbour, leaving the old harbour to be redeveloped.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. 


The New Town on

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We have recently started again our public lecture series ‘The New Town – From Welfare City to Neoliberal Utopia” in collaboration with the international New Town Institute. Eric Burgers – A reporter from the independent Dutch platform attended the first lecture and wrote a nice piece about it:

On 21 April, Michelle Provoost (director INTI International New Town Institute) en Wouter Vanstiphout (professor Design as Politics) kicked off the lecture series at the TU Delft Faculty of Architecture. New town building is often associated with the post-war period, the 50’s and 60’s of the 20th century, when urban growth worldwide was often accommodated by creating new sizeable autonomous urban environments from scratch. But, as Vanstiphout points out, there are older examples of how entire urban environments are created purposefully (and top-down). As the planning structure of Washington D.C. and other capital cities clearly show, new states tend to plan and build new capitals as material symbols of state ideals. ‘Washington’s layout is the layout of US democracy.’

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Governments are however not the only forces behind new town planning and development. Social movements, looking for alternatives for institutional urban planning, are responsible for some of the most innovative planning developments in the 20th century. Prime example is the garden city model by Ebenezer Howard (1850-1928). Combining the qualities of urban and rural communities he designed a new type of residential area, away from the disadvantages and drawbacks of industrial society and based on specific notions of social organisation, such as self-sufficiency. Vanstiphout: ‘From the twenties and thirties onward, the garden city model was appropriated by governments of all political creeds at home and abroad and thus became a basis for shaping the post-war welfare state.’ The idea that towns, cities and even an entire country, can be spatially, economically and socially restructured and reorganised by building up society from the household upwards, became a central notion in spatial and housing development. In the Netherlands, new towns, connected by new infrastructure – from telephone lines to motorways – and with all the functions and amenities that go with the welfare state clearly designated, were for several decades destined to help shape and epitomise modern society, populated by more or less egalitarian communities, ‘the whole functioning as a single state-driven machine.’ Continue reading

New Publication: Bedside Manners

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Here it is: a brand new Design as Politics publication ‘Bedside Manners’ about the extramuralization of healthcare in the Netherlands.

In this publication –originally written for MacGuffin magazine – Wouter Vanstiphout explains how the Dutch health care system is currently shifting from large government controlled institutions to a system in which the amount of care given inside large facilities is being minimized, making sure that people can stay at home longer. Big institutions built to house the old and infirm are making way for healthcare new style with hospitals that resemble towns and homes fitted out like medical wards.

This developments mean an enormous challenge for architects: to redefine the buildings and places left behind by the transformation of the healthcare system, and to design new healthcare facilities that do not just work as isolated institutions, but that can intensify the role of the neighbourhood as a meeting place, a place of social integration and of course a place of innovation.

Also interested to take up this challenge and develop new concepts for Healthcare in three Dutch cities? Join our MSc2 Architecture studio ‘We Care a Lot!’ starting in September! More info here

UPDATE! Graduation Studio: Meet Your Maker – Industry, Architecture and the City

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We are very happy to announce the studio brief for our 2015/2016 graduation studio: Meet Your Maker – Industry, Architecture and the City!

Meet Your Maker: How an Industrial Renaissance can bring back business

The upcoming Design as Politics graduation studio is centered around the manufacturing industry; in other words, the making of things.

After the devastating effects of the crisis in financial economics, focus is gradually shifting back to the real economy, an economy of production. Western industrialized countries have seen increased offshoring over the last twenty years, but this tide is turning. Re-shoring, or bringing back production from low labour cost countries, is increasing in numbers. Combined with the retrofitting and embedding of existing industry, this is becoming one of the key programs of the future city.

This studio reflects on the political consequences of this emerging trend, both globally and locally. It examines questions related to the comeback of manufacturing, future work models, industrial paternalism, industrial and scientific parks, and factory architecture. It explores new models for work, renewed craftsmanship, and the factory of the future, and helps define the role of manufacturing in society.

What have been the consequences of offshoring for western cities and towns? What will the consequences of re-shoring be for western cities and towns? How will this development be integrated in our cities? And what are the consequences for workers in developing countries where goods are now being produced?

The studio includes lectures, workshops, and a field excursion to Barcelona; to explore its highly industrialized metropolitan hinterland and to talk first hand with industrialists, policy makers, and designers involved with the manufacturing industry. What do re-shoring, factory design, and renewed craftsmanship mean to them? The results will be presented there to stakeholders both local and from the Catalan government. The studio is framed within the approach of Design as Politics; critical, bold, and design based research.

Ready to be a Design as Politics master graduate? send us an email telling us what you would like to design in the context of the return of manufacturing. Include your motivation to join this studio (max. 1,5 A4 / 600 words), and some examples of your previous writings and designs. NEW DEADLINE: 6th May 2015.

Design as Politics MSc2 Studio! We Care a Lot!

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Great news! We have an amazing new studio starting in September 2015, and lasting untill January. It’s a MSc2 studio within the Architecture Master, focusing on the transformation of Dutch neighborhoods through the overhaul of the Healthcare system. In this studio we will be working for the Office of the Chief government Architect of the Netherlands (Atelier Rjjksbouwmeester), with the International New Town Institute, and three fantastic architectural practices, on real locations, with real clients, and real results. Students can sign up from early May. We’ll keep you posted with updates. Click here for more info

NEW! Graduation Studio: Meet Your Maker – Industry, Architecture and the City

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We are very happy to announce our 2015/2016 graduation studio: Meet Your Maker – Industry, Architecture and the City!

With this studio we offer an intense Msc3 and Msc4 program, that gives you great freedom in defining and developing your own idea, but also collective workshops and lectures by specialists in the fields of architecture, planning, philosophy, art and politics.

So! are an MSC2 architecture or urbanism student at Delft University of Technology, willing and able to dedicate yourself to a graduation studio that is at once rigorous and experimental, freethinking and super-pragmatic, individualist yet with a strong team spirit, then send us an email describing your vision on what the return of manufacturing means for design. Also include your motivation to join this studio (max. 1,5 A4 / 600 words), and some examples of your previous writings and designs. Deadline: 6th May 2015.

Stay tuned for more info and for the studio brief!


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The chair of Design as Politics and Utrecht Manifest present Social Design of Cities – The International New Town Institute vs. the Urban Think Thank. The event starts with two presentations: one by INTI director Michelle Provoost and one by the UTT directors Alfredo Brillembourg and Hubert Klumpner. We conclude the evening with a conversation with a.o. Pieter Hooimeijer, professor of Social Geography at the University of Utrecht. The event takes place on the 1st of April from 17:30 – 21:30 at the TU Delft Faculty of Architecture. The evening is moderated by Design as Politics professor Wouter Vanstiphout. Sounds good? Click here to register!

The International New Town Institute and the Urban Think Tank: two practices, both constantly traveling the world from their European base stations. The first consists of historians, curators and researchers, the second of architects and planners. The INTI works in New Towns in all five continents, new towns that are being built or are in transition, and aims to improve their social and spatial qualities by starting projects in which local and international architects, researchers, activists, administrators and the local population collaborate. Urban Think Tank works all over the world, developing architectural solutions together with local groups, resulting in real interventions, often in unplanned, informal settlements in the developing world.

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Both INTI and UTT believe that despite their obvious differences, the far flung places in which they work have something in common in their needs, but also have local knowledge that they can share.

Michelle Provoost, director of INTI and partner of Crimson Architectural Historians, and Alfredo Brillembourg and Hubert Klumpner directors of Urban Think Tank, and professors of Architecture and Urban Design at the ETH Zürich are social designers in that they are primarily interested in the social outcome of their spatial interventions. Their presentations will show two distinct but connected attitudes to the challenges posed by working globally with local actors.

What is universal and what is locally specific in their work? What do the planned New Towns and the unplanned informal settlements have to learn from each other? Where does the work of the organizer become that of a designer and vice versa? How do you measure success when your goal is incremental social change?

Program April 1st:
17:30 h door open, reception with sandwiches and drinks
18:30 – 20:30 h presentation and debate
20:30 h drinks

Location: Oost Serre – TU Delft, Faculty of Architecture
Click here to register For more information