About Design as Politics
This is the archival website of Design as Politics, a former chair at the Faculty of Architecture at Delft University of technology that was initiated in 2008 by the Dutch ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment (Ministerie van Infrastructuur en Milieu) and was led by Wouter Vanstiphout. In 2020, the chair, its ideology and legacy has been integrated in the Independent School for the City – A post-graduate educational institute that is initiated by Crimson Historians and Urbanists and ZUS (Zones Urbaines Sensibles), based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
Design as Politics has been exploring, researching and defining the boundaries, commonalities and tensions between the fields of politics and design. It understands politics in the widest sense possible and has defined it as the level in society on which conflicting interests between groups of citizens become visible and are being solved, oftentimes through debate and negotiation, but possibly also by exerting power or using physical violence. Politics as an adjective means, to be able to formulate a vision of society in which certain interests are consciously given higher values than others, and to know how to use the available tools to turn this view of society into action.
Design as Politics considered politics to be an important dimension of design and, simultaneously, design as an equally important tool for practicing politics. This means that looking at the realm of politics will renew the toolset of the designer, while the spatial perspective of developments in society will be considered to enrich the existing set of political instruments. With this premise, the chair has been explicitly looking for alternatives for classical top-down planning methods and control mechanisms, through which governments have manifested themselves in the 20th century. This was done against the political background, in which a strong emphasis is placed on decentralisation of governmental duties and the greater involvement of citizens in the so-called civil society. This called, and still calls for alternative models and tools, which allow us to let emerge greater differences on a smaller, regional and even local level. Through research projects, design studios and a series of lectures, the chair has been exploring the consequences of this changing system in relation to design and how spatial quality can best be created, now and in the future.
About Wouter Vanstiphout
Wouter Vanstiphout is an architectural historian and founding partner of Crimson Historians & Urbanists. As a researcher he has written extensively on urbanism and spatial politics. He held the chair Design & Politics at the TU Delft from 2009 to 2020. Previously he has been Visiting Professor of Geography, Landscape & Cities at the Akademie der Bildende Künste, Vienna (2008–2009) and Professor of Architecture and Urban Planning at Technical University, Berlin (2004–2006). As a practitioner he has directed the renewal of the Dutch industrial satellite town of Rotterdam: Hoogvliet and advises municipalities, the national government, housing corporations and Project Developers on matters relating to urban renewal, cultural heritage and spatial and urban politics. From 2012 to 2016, he was a member of the national advisory council on the environment and infrastructure (RLI).
Mike Emmerik, Nurul Azreen Azlan, Jan van Ballegooijen, Samir Bantal, Jelte Boeijenga, Nina Bohm, Dominique van ‘t Hof, Rachel Keeton, Roderick van Klink, Lena Knappers, Els Leclercq, Jan Loerakker, Tim Peeters, Marta Relats, Toon Stallart and Ekim Tan.