Category Archives: Debate

Are We The World? – The Export of Dutch Planning

DasP#6 Zwijger - Screen

Join us on January 20th at Pakhuis de Zwijger for an evening around our new book ‘Design & Politics #6 – Are we the World?’ The event is part of the Urban Books program. Speakers include Wouter Vanstiphout, Henk Ovink, Markus Appenzeller, Saskia van Stein, Marta Relats, Ekim Tan, Michelle Provoost, Roberto Rocco and others.

Dutch Planning is conquering the world. Designers and planners from the Netherlands are being invited to solve complex questions with their combination of technical skills and especially the ‘Dutch approach’ of integral planning, wherein planning and process management are combined. Simultaneously the role of public design and planning in the Netherlands seems to be diminishing. Are we exporting something that we ourselves no longer believe in? Or is the world accepting the Dutch Approach as the way forward? At the same time the countries to which we export our tradition of planning, are hotbeds of some of the most spectacular urban developments we know.

Maybe Brazil and Turkey have more to teach us then we have for them. ‘Are We The World’ is a thought provoking polemic about the values of Dutch planning now that it is being internationally marketed. Central to the book is a search for a shared set of urban values that might unite the different countries, in order to create common ground for the exchange of design expertise. It is authored by a combination of Dutch People working abroad, and people from abroad working in the Netherlands.

Program
– Book presentation by Wouter Vanstiphout
– Short statements by Marta Relats, Roberto Rocco and Ekim Tan
– Debate with Wouter Vanstiphout, Carolien Gehrels, Henk Ovink, Markus Appenzeller and others.

Moderated by Saskia van Stein

Tuesday 20 January, 20:00 – 22:00, Pakhuis de Zwijger
Free entrance. Please RSVP

Els Leclercq and Marta Relats at Randstad Research Seminar Series #12

Advances in Doctoral ResearchDesign as Politics’ PhD candidates Marta Relats and Els Leclercq are presenting their research tomorrow 12 December at the Randstad Research Seminar Series #12: Advances in Doctoral Research.

Marta’s research ‘Pockets of reindustrialization in Europe: Regional planning and urban design impacts’ aims to investigate how to place the industry in the territory of western industrialised countries, in the foreground of a recovered interest in manufacture. The main hypothesis of her study is that design can contribute to two main societal goals at stake in today’s situation: one, the successful evolutionary breakthrough of the industry so that it is competitive, innovative and efficient. Two, that its placement signifies a quality increase of the whole environment it is set in, the physical and the social, henceforth political. It includes, among others, the comeback of manufacturing, reshoring, welfare paternalistic industrialist models, industrial and scientific parks, periurbanization, infrastructure and factory architecture”.

Els responds in her research ‘The perception of the user on the privatisation of urban space’ to the shift of responsibilities that were formerly regarded as seen as public, from local government to the private sector, public private partnerships or to individuals. Many examples can be seen throughout the Western world whereby maintenance is outsourced to private companies or to a group of local residents, and even cases whereby originally public spaces have turned into private hands. The gap that has been left by a retreating local government, with the emphasis on a more facilitating role rather than a leading role, is being filled with the arrival of private interests in all facets of the production of public space. This research analyses the public – private divide in three case studies in Liverpool in three different ways: from the producers, from the consumers (the users) and from the independent designer’s point of view.

The Seminar takes place on Friday 12 December from 12:30 – 14:00 in the Hugo Priemuszaal at OTB Building (Jaffalaan 9, Delft). Els Leclercq and Marta Relats are PhD candidates at the Chair of Design as Politics at the TU Delft Urbanism Department. Their promoter is Wouter Vanstiphout, and their daily supervisors are Dorina Pojani and John Heintz respectively 

Book: Are We The World? Available soon!

Available soonD&P#6 Are We The World

We are extremely proud to announce that our first book ‘Are We the World? – Randstad Holland, São Paulo, Istanbul & Rotterdam’ will be for sale from November 1st!

In this book we look at the export of Dutch design and planning, which has been exported for decades across the globe. After a successful period in which the polycentric Randstad model was held in high esteem, followed by the fresh, modern approach of the Super- Dutch architects, the resources and expertise of Dutch institutions have been employed for projects in Asia and South America.

But, are Dutch ingenuity, pragmatism and process management the ideals that the explosively expanding or shrinking cities of the 21st century are most in need of? Isn’t the city more of a political question – of accessibility, equality and democracy? What does the Dutch model offer global cities and what can the Netherlands itself learn?

‘Are We The World?’ is part six of the Design and Politics series, an initiativefrom the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, which examines the relationship between planning, design and politics. This part has been put together by the chair of Design as Politics, under the supervision of Wouter Vanstiphout at TU Delft. The book compares the Randstad with São Paulo and Istanbul, and speculates about alternative visions for city planning and idealistic architectural intervention for the cities involved. ‘Are We The World?’ is not only a plea for a central role for city planning, and an active exchange of ideas, but primarily for new political involvement.

Sam Jacob, Wouter Vanstiphout and Kieran Long in Conversation

MK Gallery

On October 9th, the MK Gallery invited Design as Politics Professor Wouter Vanstiphout and Architect Sam Jacob – the curators of this year’s British Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale – to discuss the development of their exhibition, A Clockwork Jerusalem, with Architectural Historian and Broadcaster, Kieran Long.

A Clockwork Jerusalem explores how the international influences of Modernism became mixed with long standing British sensibilities. and how traditions of the romantic, sublime and pastoral, as well as interests in technology and science fiction were absorbed to create a specifically British form of Modernism.

The exhibition focusses on the mature flowering of British Modernism; the moment it was at its most ambitious socially, politically and architecturally, but which also witnessed its collapse. A variety of large scale projects offer insights into the way architecture was central to manufacturing a new vision of society at a scale inconceivable in today’s Britain. It explores how the modern future of Britain was built from an unlikely combination of interests and shows how these projects have changed our physical and imaginative landscapes.

Reinier de Graaf: Why Mayors should not rule the world

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Cities and their mayors are increasingly put forward as The new forces in solving major global problems. While national governments seem to fail in addressing environmental issues, poverty reduction, food production and healthcare, cities appear capable to respond much faster, more efficient and -above all- more democratically. But not everyone agrees. OMA partner and AMO director Reinier de Graaf recently added an interesting angle to the debate by arguing why Mayors should not rule the world…

This weekend, the first planning session of the Global Parliament of Mayors took place in Amsterdam: a platform for mayors from across the world, triggered by Benjamin Barber’s book: If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities.

In this book the current political system and its leaders is dismissed as dysfunctional. Defined by borders and with an inevitable focus on national interests, they are not an effective vehicle to govern a world defined by interdependence. Mayors, presiding over cities with their more open, networked structure and cosmopolitan demographics, so the book argues, could do it better.

It is of no surprise that this book has been welcomed by the same political class as the one it praises: mayors. As was apparent during the first planning session of the GPM: a conference about mayors, for mayors, attended by mayors, moderated by mayors and hosted by a mayor, all triggered by a book about mayors.

I recognize many of the book’s observations. Many mayors are impressive figures and time appears to be on their side. Nation states (particularly the large ones) have an increasingly hard time and, in the context of a process of globalization, cities, and particularly small city-states, increasingly emerge victorious. Cities have first-hand experience with many of the things that occur in globalization’s wake, such as immigration and cultural and religious diversity, and are generally less dogmatic and more practical in dealing with them.

So far so good.

For me, the problem arises when it is suggested to project the success of cities as a blueprint for global governance. I would argue that the current generation of mayors, described in the book, is successful precisely because they do not rule the world. They are successful because they are allowed to focus on smaller, more immediate, more local responsibilities, which means that their efforts by definition generate quicker and more visible results. To remove that focus by attributing global responsibilities to them would (probably) quickly undo that success. Yes, mayors are popular, but how much longer would they continue to be popular, once they would take on responsibilities currently allocated to national leaders? In any case, it remains questionable if popularity automatically equals competence to govern. Kings and Queens are generally a lot more popular than national politicians, but few of us would want to return to a system in which they ruled.

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The Double Death of Welfare and the Nation State

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Invited by it’s curator Hans Ulrich Obrist, we took over the Swiss pavilion this week as part of the Swiss Summer School program “Lucius Burckhardt and Cedric Price – A stroll through a fun palace

Every week, from the opening of the Biennale until October 2014, another institution is invited to spend a week in the Pavilion, bringing their research on some of the most interesting changes that are happening worldwide to the landscape. At the end of the week, the institutes will leave behind the work they have developed, which will be used as a toolbox for subsequent visiting institutions, contributing to a growing archive of the Swiss Summer School.

Together with the students of our graduation studio New Utopias on the ruins of the welfare state, we will use this week to take a closer look at decentralization – the cross-cutting theme of Design as Politics this year. In the studio we emphasize the current progressive dispersion of the services once centralized by the welfare state, and the utopian thinking needed to create an alternative to that. Another angle of the same problem is the political configuration of the nation state. Inspired by the Scottish referendum, and being in the Veneto region -which also has a strong desire of autonomy– we will explore the Europe of regions under the heading  ‘The Double Death of Welfare and the Nation State.’ 

Play the City Talk Show

City Gaming15760-625-500Book Cover – Negotiation and Design for the Self-Organizing City

Former Design as Politics colleague Ekim Tan (teacher in our 2012 ‘We the People’ studio) will host the talk show ‘How City Gaming will Save City Planning’ on Friday 12 September in the Mediamatic Fabriek, Amsterdam.

The event is organized to celebrate the completion of her doctoral research earlier that day, and the publication of the corresponding book Negotiation and Design for the Self-Organizing City. In this book she describes the development of the method through the evaluation of six real city games. Each game was designed to support local city-makers, from architects to neighborhood groups, housing corporations, cultural institutions, and municipalities, in their joint efforts to evolve their cities. The Play the City Talk Show has a great line-up of professionals who gather to discuss the relevancy of City Games to Collaborative City Making, so don’t miss it!