Alamar Travel Guide E-Publication

In the spring of 2016, Design as Politics and The International New Town Institute took a group of TU Delft Master students to Cuba in order to explore Alamar, a new town just east of Havana. Based on our research and on-site experiences, we have developed a travel guide for this mostly undiscovered New Town.

Alamar is one of those New Towns which look remarkably familiar at first glance. An abundance of standardized walk-up flats, modernist social housing off 5-6 storeys of a similar kind that Western European New Towns excelled in during the 50s and 60s. Organized in neighborhood units, each with their set of shops, schools and services. A lot of open, green spaces in between and ample provision for cars and traffic.

But no matter how familiar this cityscape looks: this is Cuba and everything is different from what it looks like. To start with: this New Town was not built in the 50s but in the 70s, in a quite extraordinary way, completely different than its European family members. Even if they share the same DNA, Alamar is not only shaped by the modernist canon of postwar new towns, but just as much by the revolutionary ethos of Cuba after the triumph of the revolution in 1959 and it even bears the marks of the pre-revolutionary period under the regime of President Fulgencio Batista. At second glance, this peculiar mix makes up the unique character of Alamar, New Town ‘at the sea’.

This publication is part of a series of Alternative Travel Guides initiated by the International New Town Institute. Other issues have been made for Milton Keynes (UK), Cergy Pontoise (France) and Nowa Huta (Poland)

De Rol van Ontwerp: Placebo, Therapie of Kwakzalverij?

In June 2016, the International conference ‘Building the future of Health’ took place in Groningen, discussing game changing concepts for healthy Ageing and the built environment. Design as Politics’ Wouter Vanstiphout was asked by the conference organization in collaboration with the Board of Government Advisors, to write a piece about the relation between architecture, urbanization and healthcare. A short version of the text was already published in Dutch magazine ‘de Blauwe Kamer’, but now it’s here for you all to read (if you understand Dutch). Edited by Cassandra Wilkins.

International Social Housing Festival: Migration and mobility in cities in the West

As part of the International Social Housing Festival, Crimson Architectural Historians and the ISHF research team are collectively organizing an event about Migration and mobility in cities in the West.

All over the world, cities are challenged to accommodate newcomers. This not only contributes to the current refugee crisis in Europe, but also to the preexisting urgent need for temporary accommodation for migrant workers and an increasing demand for flexible housing. Our cities are increasingly defined by the dynamics of temporary inhabitants: expats, refugees, international students, and migrant workers moving in and out. The influx of individuals to cities is expected to be a permanent phenomenon that requires a permanent strategy. How may cities better adapt to a phenomenon that has always shaped and defined urban development and will continue to do so in the future?

In the framework of International Social Housing Festival 2017 in Amsterdam, Crimson is presenting the first research results of their project A city of Comings and Goings, which runs parallel to our graduation studio about migration, mobility and the city.

The event will start with an introductory presentation, followed by four presentations on Aarhus (Denmark), Prato (Italy), Vienna (Austria) and London (UK), in which our international researchers will discuss the current migration challenges in these cities and the specific spatial solutions that are being offered.  The event will conclude with a panel discussion, in which Dutch professionals from different backgrounds will react to the presentations and consider what lessons can be learned for the Dutch situation. The panel will also reflect on what migration means for cities more generally, and how architecture and planning can contribute to migration challenges .

Experts include:
Achmed Baâdoud (Stadsdeel Nieuw-West Amsterdam), Perry Hoetjes (Stadgenoot), Payman Hanifi-Moghaddam (Seedz Rotterdam), Desirée Uitzetter (BPD Gebiedsontwikkeling), Hassnae Bouazza (journalist), Francine Houben (Mecanoo architecten), Cihan Bugdaci (Gentleman A.R.T.) Goof van Dormolen (VWN) and Michelle Provoost (Crimson Architectural Historians)

The event is free of charge and takes place on June 18, in Het Schip Museum, Amsterdam – Torenzaal. More detailed information on the program & registration at https://socialhousingfestival.com/events/migration-mobility/ Please note: there is only a limited number of spots available!

Graduation Studio 2017/2018 – A city of Comings and Goings – Part II

How can we design buildings, cities and landscapes that make the best of our restless, migratory, lives?

We are very happy to announce that we will continue our research into the spatial dimensions of migration with a new edition of the graduation studio: A City of Comings and Goings – Designing for migration and mobility. This studio starts in September 2017 and is open for students of the Architecture, Urbanism and Landscape Architecture tracks at Delft University of Technology. Interested students can apply until April 23th!

Migration and mobility define how we use our cities and landscapes. Climate change, conflicts and a globalised economy keep us constantly on the move, whether we are rich ex-pats, hard working labour migrants, young international students or refugees. Looking at the world around us, there is no reason to think that migration will remain at the same level or even decrease. Our cities will increasingly be characterised by a coming and going of people, population growth and contraction, the emergence and disappearance of amenities and enterprises, and a constantly changing racial profile. In this studio we challenge you to develop new perspectives, new solutions, new utopias or new research into this topic. How can we design buildings, cities and landscapes that make the best of our restless,migratory, lives?  That profit from the constant exchange of people, that can withstand the pressures of a growing and shrinking, ever changing population?

This studio is framed within the approach of Design as Politics; critical, bold, research-based design with a strong narrative. While focusing on the theme of migration we will give you the freedom to develop your own project based on your own fascination and interpretation. We will organize lectures, workshops, a field trip and group discussion to feed you with new ideas and inspiration for your project, while at the same time challenge you to take your own position.

Are you ready to become a Design as Politics Graduate, willing and able to dedicate yourself to a studio that is at once rigorous and experimental, freethinking and super-pragmatic, individualist yet with a strong team spirit? Then apply for this studio! Send us an email (designaspolitics-bk@tudelft.nl) explaining your motivation to join his studio or project proposal in max 1,5 A4 ( 600 words). Also include some examples of your previous writings and designs. Deadline for application is on Sunday 23 April 2017. Only limited places available. We will inform all applicants about the selection before may 1st.


Course Code Architecture students: AR3DP110
Course Code Urbanism students: AR3U100

AirportCity or #FortEU: Workshop with FailedArchitecture

In December we asked Michiel van Iersel, Rene Boer and Mark Minkjan of the research collective Failed architecture to organize a workshop for our graduation students taking part in the studio  ‘A City of Comings and Goings’. They came with the idea to focus this workshop on the border landscape of Schiphol Airport, the main hub for migration to and from The Netherlands.

Together with the Rotterdam Harbor, Schiphol is one of the ‘mainports’ of the Netherlands. Since its origins, exactly one hundred years ago, the airport has become one of the leading aviation hubs in the world. Almost operating at full capacity, they process up to 500.000 traffic movements per year. Instead of just being as a place to get on and off planes, it has grown into an real Airport City, with a mixture of shops, banks, restaurants, meeting areas, hotels and even a casino –  a concept that is now shared with other airports around the world.

But this seamless shopping environments and transparent terminals, stands in sharp contrast with Schiphol’s security regime. During an intensive three-day workshop at Schiphol Airport and the Amsterdam Museum, students were asked to move beyond standard architectural analysis and to develop a statement or intervention responding towards schiphol’s border landscape – ideally hacking, reinforcing, subverting, breaching or visualize the (sometimes invisible) border of the airport. This resulted in three totally different proposals that shed a different light on Airport City Schiphol.

Choreographing Schiphol Airport – the Game
After visiting the airport, the first group of students stated that Schiphol is not a physical space with social and political consequences, but rather a social and political subject with spatial consequences. Its border landscape is not just outlining a physical territory, but a mode of existence. To translate this statement into an intervention, the group consisting of Yi Yu, Olivia Forty and Ramon Cordova, saw the limitation of movement at the boarding process as a planned sequence that hinders the opportunity to move freely. It is a scenario with a non-ending choreography in which everybody takes part of a pre-assigned role without being conscious of it. As in most choreographies, actors play different roles and not everybody can have the same degrees of apparent freedom. This is where the border landscape manifest itself and divide actors in two main groups: us and them.

But who creates this division? The choreography doesn’t have a single director but rather a set of them. To answer this question, the group developed ‘Schiphol Airport: the Game’, that attempts to show the reality of the airport, as well as a part of the society we live in. The game gives you a sequence of scenarios present in the process of taking an airplane. It points out that even contingency is planned, in order to make freedom of movement impossible. Schiphol Airport: the Game is not trying to solve a specific problem, but rather encourages players to engage in the question on how airports, borders and society can look like if we question the reason behind certain things.

 

Parallel Runaways
Although there are no permanent residences on the terrain of Schiphol, the airport is frequented by a uniquely diverse community: business men, prostitutes, homeless people and employees. Jere Kuzmanic, John Lau and Lena Knappers were fascinated by the parallel worlds that exist at the Airport. Their project consist of a printed booklet and audio material for three guided tours, that will open your eyes and suck you into the at first glance invisible worlds of employees, security services and weirdo’s that dwell around Schiphol. Each of the stories is made in a way that it gradually engages the person who is doing the tour into these parallel realities until there is no way back.

The Serviced World – tour makes you realize that Schiphol Airport has more than 6500 employees. They are part of different services, like security, customs, commerce supply, cleaners, luggage handlers, runway services, cooks, administrative agents, undercover immigration officers and taxi drivers. There is a whole parallel labyrinth of spaces which are used by employees and prohibited for others. During the tour, participants try and find these spaces by discovering all the doors without signs on it or doors marked with a red circle with a white dash. Additionally, try to push your luck by actually pretending you are an employee, carrying out a task!

The From Safety to Detention – tour shows you the border landscape of the Netherlands and makes you aware that you precisely behave according to the script. Unless… The World of Strange People leads you to the bunch of weirdo’s who are in and around Schiphol. You wouldn’t expect it but there are homeless people, prostitutes and airplane spotters all around the airport. They are not visible for everyone – you can only see them when you really start looking…  

Border crossing
The last proposal from the group of Signe Perkone, Alon Sarig and Giulia Spagnolo illustrated the Schiphol border landscape by making illegal practices visible during the boarding process. The safety off-board brochure in your front pocket at your seat, informs you about your options for your ‘escape to freedom’. Offered packages provide different options to either dig, clip or make your way to freedom. To illustrate this proposal best, the text below goes over the speakers in the airplane.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the Captain has turned on the Fasten Seat Belt sign. If you haven’t already done so, please stow your ‘escape to freedom’ package underneath the seat in front of you or in an overhead locker. Please take your seat, fasten your seat belt, and act naturally as if you were not entering the country by stealth. If you are seated next to an emergency exit, please read carefully the special instructions card located by your seat. This is especially important, if you are stowed away by the wheels of the plane. If you do not wish to perform the functions described in the event of an emergency, please ask a flight attendant to reseat you, but at the same time we advise you not to draw attention to yourself. If you are using our economy escape package, we suggest you use the flight time to rest and gather your strength for digging. If you are using our luxury package, relax and enjoy the flight, while not forgetting to insert the bionic lenses and put on the identity mask before security checks upon arrival. If you have any questions about our flight today or about how to use any of the items in the escape package, please don’t hesitate to ask one of our flight attendants. Thank you and we wish you a successful escape to freedom.”

A special thanks to Failed Architecture, the Amsterdam Museum and our host and inspiration: Schiphol Airport. Text by Anouk Klapwijk and Lena Knappers

WE CARE A LOT! – Final report

In the autumn of 2016 we conducted a research and design project commissioned by the Chief Government Architect of the Netherlands (Rijksbouwmeester) as part of his program ‘Oog voor de buurt’. The topic was aging and healthcare in Dutch neighborhoods. Together with students of the architecture master track, two Design as Politics Alumni and the International New Town Institute, we took a closer look at two specific cases: elderly home Humanitas in Deventer and the assisted living facility ‘Buiten Zorg’ in Zuid-Scharwoude – a village in the province of North-Holland. This led to two reports, one for each area, in which we made recommendations and proposed design interventions for a better integration of healthcare in those neighborhoods – responding to the current and upcoming changes in the Dutch healthcare system which is aimed at living at home as long as possible. We also organized a symposium around this topic. Wanna know more? You can now find both reports on our issuu account here and here (in Dutch only)

Another 4 years!

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We are very proud to inform you that the chair of Design as Politics will continue for another four years! This was announced yesterday at the presentation of the new action-agenda on spatial design, titled Working together on the power of design (Samen werken aan ontwerpkracht) by the Dutch national government. As a consequence we’ll continue to spam you with our opinions, research projects, lectures, design studio’s, workshops, exhibitions and articles until at least the end of 2020. Whether you like it or not.

Minister Schultz van Haegen of Infrastructure and the Environment (IenM) and Minister Bussemaker of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) came to our faculty yesterday to present their new agenda to a large audience of designers, students, policy makers and researchers from all around the country. Focus for the next 4 years will be on social-spatial issues that have to do with our changing world, whether it is climate change, the future of mobility, migration, the energy transition, healthcare or education. ‘These questions require an innovative approach and revolutionary new solutions, while at the same time the changing roles between government and society ask for new ways of organization and collaboration.‘ Also the new environmental planning law which will be enacted in 2019 (de omgevingswet) ‘requires new knowledge and skills for an integrated and participatory approach. The new Action-agenda departs from these changes and aims to contribute to the quality of our environment by means of design.

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25 years of architecture policy, 8 years design as politics
Already since 1991, the Dutch government has been making policy especially focused on architecture and the built environment. Through this policy, the government has supported the work of multiple institutions that are active in the field of architecture and urban development. This has led to an enormous amount of innovative design studies, educational programs, research projects, debates and exhibitions that fuel the Dutch architectural debate. The Chief government architect has therefore taken the initiative to organize a traveling exhibition about the history and influence of 25 years of architectural policy in the Netherlands. The chair has been proudly part of the last 8 years and we’re honored to remain part of this agenda for another term. The exhibition is currently on show at our own faculty @ BK-Expo and will move to the New Institute at the beginning of January.

Workshop: Democratic integration in Feijenoord, Rotterdam

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As part of the graduation studio ‘A City of Comings and Goings – Designing for Migration and Mobility’ a workshop was organized by Design as Politics PhD candidates Nurul Azlan and Els Leclercq about political and democratic integration of inhabitants with a migrant background in the neighbourhood Feijenoord in Rotterdam-South.

Just as in many European countries, the influx of refugees in the Netherlands is a prominent issue in the social-political debate. Opponents often refer to the failed integration of migrants who came to the country in the ‘60’s, of mostly Moroccan and Turkish origin. The long-term impact of inhabitants with a migrant background on neighbourhoods, the fear of losing the ‘Dutch identity’ and the rising tension between various groups in society is often a central issue in this debate. Feijenoord is one of those neighbourhoods that has changed a lot over the past decades and the group of non-western migrants has increased up to 76% of the total population. In addition, the district faces an accumulation of socio-economic problems such as high unemployment rated, a low education and income level and a high percentage of school drop-outs. Also there is a lack of services and amenities in the neighborhood and much of the public space is of low quality and underused.

While the Rotterdam authorities have received multiple subsidies from the Dutch government in order to improve the impoverished quarters of the city and a lot of money actually was spend on Feijenoord, it does not seem like the neighbourhood has improved much. Some public spaces were refurbished, but the inhabitants are still facing the same problems as before the regeneration, while the level of participation on any political scale remains low. In this workshop the students were therefore asked ‘how public space or the public sphere could contribute to, not the cultural but the, political/democratic integration of migrants? During a full day in neighbourhood centre ‘de proeftuin’ in Feijenoord, the students were challenged to design spaces or processes that could establish an environment for a new democratic public sphere in which (temporary) migrants (or all citizens) can feel part of the bigger system. Students could either concentrate on spatial design, or also develop apps that could trigger engagement with the public space. This resulted in three totally different, sometimes slightly provocative, proposals.

Vote For Space
The first group of students (Anouk Klapwijk, Giulia Spagnolo and Ramon Cordova) imagined a new way to approach participative design. They created a democratic device that allows people to directly choose and intervene in their own environment. The concept consists of an app that allows people to choose physical spaces for potential urban developments. Moreover, it also allows to choose the function that the space would get through a collective decision. The management work would be ultimately translated into a physical intervention based in a collaboration scheme. While the app is developed for Feijenoord, it leaves open possibilities for further development in the rest of the city, the country and even the world.

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The app is based on four steps of participation by the user. The first step is about marking empty spaces. Users take a picture of an empty public accessible space that they feel is suited for developments. This space then gets marked on a map. The second step is called brainstorming. Users can brainstorm about the activity they want to take place in that particular space. Three categories are provided to keep it simple and clear: nature, culture and sports. In order to inspire the user, for each category an example can be found. Step three in the process is voting. Users can vote on their preferences for the development of a particular empty space. The app also allows the users to see the statistics for this space, in order to encourage discussions and campaigns for the development of one space. After the voting process, a decision can be made about the favourable category in which the development for this particular empty space should take place. For the creation and construction of the new space, a responsible inhabitant needs to be assigned within the neighbourhood. The difference between a survey and a more participatory application like ‘Vote for Space’ is that the inhabitants are not only answering the “question”, but also choose which spaces are at “question”.

Istanbul on the Maas – Feijenoord as a test case for an autonomous zone
The second group of students (Alon Sarig, Lena Knappers, Yi Yu) were fascinated by the pirate TV satellite receivers, that characterise the urban landscape of Feijenoord and that could be seen as the most visible physical manifestation of ‘binational urbanism’ in the area. The people who live in Feijenoord simultaneously divide their life between two worlds – the urban everyday life of Rotterdam and the cultural, political and social content from their previous home (in the case of Feijenoord mostly Turkey) that they receive on their TV sets. Untitled 3In the context of Feijenoord, the aim of this group of students was to explore a speculative scenario of a new form of autonomous zone. Instead of an ongoing reality where the migrants in Feijenoord are being forced to integrate in the Dutch society by forbidding for example the satellite dishes on the facades of their houses, they explored the opposite approach: ‘exter-grate’. An exclusive autonomy for the migrants. A place where the migrants of Feijenoord can develop their own distinct social, political and cultural environment (one that does not necessarily correspond to the Dutch or European values or norms). A symbol of local pride that at the same time creates new financial opportunities (such as new forms of tourism and media distribution).

The primary act of ‘Istanbul on the Maas’ was to define the Western part of Feijenoord as a physical and political entity. In order to express autonomy through geo-political operation, they transformed several of the existing informal activities (the informal beach, the community centre and pirate TV satellite receivers) that are already taking place in the island into formal attractions, institutions and landmarks. Ones that will eventually convert and declare the area as a self-governed neighbourhood-state.

The Burkini beach, that was transformed from the existing informal beach serves as a unique emancipatory space for the island’s women. As a reaction to the expelling of muslim women wearing burkini’s from European beaches. A public space that would shape a new political reality through emphasizing public realm.
The current community centre of Feijenoord, where inhabitants from the neighbourhood are meeting each other, where different residents are working together and where new ideas for the area are developed, could become the governance building of the island. This institution will play an important role in the political and democratic participation of the ‘Feijenoorders’. In the city-state democracy is brought back to the local community.
The TV tower, is formed from the existing three social housing towers at the entrance to Island. The buildings, once represented the welfare state integration oppression governed by the Dutch state, are now transformed into a huge telecommunication tower, that independently receives data from middle eastern TV channels and transmit it exclusively to the citizens of the island ‘Istanbul on the Maas’, will turn the migrant condition (that might be seen as an obstacle in the way for full integration) to a local symbol of pride and economical prosperity.

Come Dine With Me
The last group (Olivia Forty, Jere Kuzmanic, Signe Perkone and John Lau) took the fact that more than 40% of the people in Feijenoord is unemployed and that a correspondingly large amount of people report being lonely. People in this area lack access to common social structures, such as connection between the individual and society, opportunities and inter-personal connections. In particular, there is no public place, where these kinds of connections could naturally arise. The students argued that space needs to be democratised, in the sense that people need to feel that they are in charge of it, and can take full advantage of it in all its capacities. The question is then: what can connect all these people with their various backgrounds and problems? Their answer to this was ‘food’. Food is universal and it is the most easy and common way of engaging with other cultures – which is preferable in areas where people are less open to socialising. While consuming food is generally viewed as a social practice, making it is normally much more intimate, either done in private or with family. The premise is that, if people not only eat together but prepare the food together too, that will create more space for real interaction and productive encounters. For this it is necessary to take the private function – the kitchen – outside of the private realm – the house – into the public. In this way communal cooking and dining can become a platform for dialogue, a step closer to building a strong community that can fight for improvement.  This communal dining can be event-based, or rather in the mood of a festival or weekend-market, with the aim of building interest and encouraging self-organising and taking initiative. This can also involve healthy competition between members of different communities and cultures. The concept is inspired by the old-school game ‘snake’ with the idea that the dining tables can gradually move across the area picking people up along the way. In that way the tables and the dinner parties can become a physical link and an advertisement.

 

 

Research on Design and Legislation

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The past few months our chair has been intensively working on a research concerning one of the biggest legislative changes in Dutch history. All the laws concerning the (built) environment, twenty-four in total, will be merged into one overarching environmental planning law (‘de omgevingswet’). Let alone the extensive legislative consequences, this system change will undoubtably impact the way that cities are designed and planned in the Netherlands.

The notion of change for Dutch planning and design has been the start of our investigation. In a series of interviews researcher Jelte Boeijenga and research-assistent Nina Bohm tried to find answers to questions such as: What is the new context designers will have to work in due to the legislative change? What are emerging opportunities for local governments to use design in order to achieve societal goals? What expertises and instruments do designers need to develop in order to answer to the ambitions of the new law?

From these interviews we recognised two developments of rising importance. Firstly, there is an explosion of information availability on the urban environment. That offers an opportunity to develop a platform, an interface, on which all that information is gathered and can be used to jointly design the environment. Secondly, this decentralising law anticipates on strong local-political forces. There, we see an opportunity for designers to employ design in order to contribute to societal and political agendas.

Last month we tested these hypotheses on two future, urban challenges: ‘City and Highway’ and ‘The Energy Transition’. Two focus groups consisting of lawyers, designers and societal experts engaged in our thought experiment on the future relation between law and design.

At the moment we are finalising a research report that explains all our findings from the past few months. In this publication the designer perspective will be very important, as we all too well realise that a broader conversation in the urban design community on this topic has yet to be started. To help instigate the discussion we plan to organise a public event to present and debate our research findings within the Faculty of Architecture end of this year. Keep an eye on this blog and the ‘Ontwerp en Wet’ twitter account for more information.

Recently an informative article based on our intermediary research findings last may has been published in the Faculty magazine B-nieuws.

The 500-mile City

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The rise of globalisation, the development of internet and the culture of connectivity, increased mobility, and above all, the growth of the global city have radically changed the way we think about migration, citizenship and the nation state. Today, these global cities and nation states are transforming in very different ways. While the nation state is declining – not the concept, but the reality – the global city is expanding.

 During the past decade, scientists have compared the data of Facebook users’ place of birth with their current residential address, in order to reveal the top 10 cities that have ‘coordinated migrations’, i.e. the movement of large numbers of people from one place to another. While the concept of Facebook sometimes might be unnerving – Facebook undermines privacy by collecting sensitive personal information and sharing this information to third parties – the enormous numbers of personal data can also give fascinating insights about the world we live in and how it is changing…

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This map represents coordinated migrations over the world. The map highlights the countries with the largest urbanisation growth between 2000 and 2012, according to data from the World Bank. However, data from China is lacking.

As the data comparison illustrates, today the biggest arrival cities are located in countries that are rapidly urbanising. In these nations, at least 20 percent of the population of one city has moved to another city within a decade. For instance, Lagos in Nigeria has grown 18.6 percent between 2000 and 2012 as a destination city.

Furthermore, the research and analysis by the World Bank foresee that in 2040 there will be more than 30 global cities or bigger urban areas that will be located in-between two or three nation states, mainly in Africa and some in Asia. For instance, in West-Africa, there is a conurbation of 70 million people which is connecting four different nation states. This continuous urban and industrially developed area is stretching over more than 500 kilometres. Thus, a new urban system is created which links the cities, Accra, Lome, Cotonou and Lagos. Lagos is the most populated of these four places, every day 2.000 new people are arriving in this city.

What will be the future relationship between these large global conurbations and nation states? What are and will be the effects of these massive, transnational, continuous urban areas on daily life of inhabitants and on local economies? Can design play a role on many different scales in this urban situation where there is no longer a strong role for the nation state? What are the local effects of the global exchange of urban design and development? And what will be the role of citizenship and belonging in an increasingly interdependent and increasingly widely organised society?

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As congregations in Lagos are so large, mass is often held in a series of buildings, some resembling hangars.

These are merely some of the questions we hope to address in our coming Design as Politics programme. Thus, in next year’s graduation studio we will focus on the topic of migration and mobility. This studio is organised with the support of Crimson Architectural Historians, the International New Town Institute and a great number of organisations and institutions that see migration and mobility as one of the defining factors for urbanisation in the near future. Besides, we are planning a new MSC2 Design Studio and Lecture Series about Urban Africa: the 500 Mile City. Also these courses will be organised in collaboration with the International New Town Institute, and a number of international global parties such as the Dutch Ministry for Foreign Affairs, UN Habitat, local universities and development agencies. We will keep you updated!

Exploring Cuban New Town Alamar

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Together with the International New Town Institute, we recently took a group of TU Delft Master students to Cuba in order to explore Alamar, a new town just east of Havana. This youngest and most adventurous addition to the city of Havana is a large urban area consisting of mainly prefab apartment blocks with 90.000 inhabitants. Built in the 1970s by microbrigades, Alamar was part of the embodiment of the Revolution itself: a large-scale housing complex for Castro’s workers.

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Several decades later, this revolutionary dream has shown not to be resistant against the ravages of time: Alamar’s apartment blocks are in decay, the neighborhood is isolated from Havana’s city center itself and suffers from a lack of identity and a monotonous cityscape.

After researching the existing challenges and opportunities of the area together with students of the CUJAE university, the student groups presented short and long term visions for necessary improvements, using the area’s local economy and culture, it’s famous tradition in urban agriculture and the potential for (beach)tourism as transformational tools. The results were among others presented to the Dutch Ambassador at the Embassy of the Netherlands in Havana.

Back in Delft the students will further develop their design proposals. Also a travel guide for Alamar will be made as part of INTI’s New town travel guide series. Both the design proposals as well as the travel guide will be presented on June 24th, during a final event at the TU Delft. Professor Jorge Peña Díaz of the CUJAE university in Havana will be present during this event as s visiting critic. During the same week he will talk about urban agriculture in Alamar during the International New Town Day on June 30th.

A Workshop in Amsterdam’s Vijzelbank Building

 

work space air bnb officeUltra-flexible and cosy workspaces in a AirBNB office – is this the future?


As part of the Design as Politics graduation studio ‘Let’s Work!’, a workshop was organized by Failed Architecture about the future perspectives on work and what this could mean for the Vijzelbank, a building at the crossing of the Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht in Amsterdam’s city centre. Due to changing political attitudes, economic conditions and social and cultural preferences, the way we look at ‘work’ in the urban environment has transformed. In the past decades the Vijzelbank building has seen diverging manifestations of working in the city – from rows of cubicles to ultra-flexible and cosy hang-outs.

In his books The Third Industrial Revolution’ (2011) and ‘The Zero Marginal Cost Society’ (2014) social and economic theorist Jeremy Rifkin imagines the transition driven by new information technologies from a capitalist market economy to what he calls the ‘collaborative commons’. Rifkin describes internet technology and sustainable energy as merging to create ‘a third industrial revolution’. Lateral power is transforming energy, the economy and the world. Rifkin’s books are praised for helping shape the debate on technology displacement, corporate downsizing, outsourcing, global labour mobility, and the future of jobs. The Third Industrial Revolution has been on the New York Times Best Seller List and is translated into 19 languages.

While the change of job policies and the digitalisation of manufacturing is explained in the books, not so much is written about the spatial implications for buildings and cities regarding this ‘third industrial revolution’. These changes, however, will have a large impact on jobs for architects and urban planners – on the way they shape buildings, cities work places and thus societies.
Therefore, in the workshop of Failed Architecture, students started to imagine and discuss different scenarios for the future of a concrete project location, the Vijzelbank. Will the boundaries between work and leisure become blurred in the future – due to decreasing working hours in the Netherlands? Can we start creating new forms of living and working in a shared space? Can we think of a new type of workspace in which facilities such as administration, catering and specialist production are centralized and shared by various organizations and demands? Check it out!

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