Category Archives: Debate

WE CARE A LOT! – Final report

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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.

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.

Symposium: We Care a Lot!

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On the 15th of March we presented our research for the Chief Government Architect on elderly care and aging in Dutch neighborhoods to a group of policy makers, researchers and architects during the symposium ‘We Care a Lot.’ Here’s a report of the day ( in Dutch) by Design as Politics’ Mike Emmerik and Architecture student Hedwig van der Linden.

Wat is de relatie tussen zorg en verstedelijking en de sociale functie van het verzorgingshuis als ontmoetingsplaats voor de hele buurt? Een interdisciplinair team van studenten en onderzoekers van de TU Delft, medewerkers van het International New Town Institute en twee jonge ontwerpers ging in opdracht van Atelier Rijksbouwmeester aan de slag met een ontwerpend onderzoek. In het kader van ‘Oog voor de Buurt’, werden woonzorgcentrum Humanitas in Deventer en de woonzorglocatie ‘Buiten Zorg’ in Zuid-Scharwoude onderzocht. Op 15 maart werden de resultaten van het onderzoek gepresenteerd tijdens het symposium ‘We Care a Lot! Zorg, Stad en Ontwerp.’ In de aanwezigheid van de Rijksbouwmeester en verschillende professionals op het gebied van zorg en ruimtelijke ordening, werd gesproken over de toekomst van zorg in de buurt, en wat de bevindingen uit dit onderzoek voor andere locaties kunnen betekenen.

Probleemstelling: Zorg en ontwerp
Design as Politics’ Hoogleraar Wouter Vanstiphout, binnen wiens leerstoel dit onderzoek is uitgevoerd, trapt het symposium af met een toelichting van de probleemstelling rondom zorg en ontwerp. Hij beschrijft hoe het huidige beleid van extramuralisering in de zorg resulteert in een aantal belangrijke vraagstukken op zowel ruimtelijk als sociaal gebied. Zo zal een groot aantal verzorgingshuizen de komende jaren haar huidige functie verliezen. De raad voor de Leefomgeving en Infrastructuur (RLI) heeft berekend dat dit, samen met gehandicaptenzorg en ggz-locaties, zelfs kan oplopen tot ongeveer 4 miljoen m2 vrijkomend zorgvastgoed. Dit leidt niet alleen tot grote vraagstukken op het gebied van transformatie of sloop, maar heeft ook een sterke invloed op de leefbaarheid van onze wijken, zo stelt Vanstiphout.

Verzorgings- of verpleeghuizen kunnen relatief eenvoudig getransformeerd worden tot bijvoorbeeld studentenflats, maar daarmee krijgt de wijk niet de verzameling van ook voor de (oudere) buurtbewoners toegankelijke functies terug, zoals de cafés, apotheken, huisartsenposten of andere publieke voorzieningen die dikwijls de begane grond van de instelling bezetten. Met het sluiten van verzorgingshuizen in de wijk komt de ‘sociale functie’ van het gebouw als ontmoetingsplaats waar bewoners, en omwonenden uit bijvoorbeeld aanleunwoningen of serviceflats samenkomen om te eten, koffie te drinken of een potje biljart spelen, te vervallen. Hierdoor wordt het moeilijker voor ouderen om sociale contacten te onderhouden, met als gevolg dat sommigen van hen dreigen te vereenzamen. De vraag is nu hoe voor hen een woonomgeving gecreëerd kan worden waarin deze voorzieningen een plaats hebben en waar zij zich geborgen en veilig voelen. Juist rondom de rol die architectonisch en stedenbouwkundig ontwerp kunnen spelen in het faciliteren en vormgeven van deze toekomstige leefomgeving is nog weinig kennis en ervaring ontwikkeld. Dit onderzoek richt zich specifiek op dit vraagstuk.

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Progress Presentations Graduation Studio Let’s Work

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By now our graduation studio Let’s Work! is already up and running for more than half a year. The midterm review is behind us, and coming Thursday we will have another progress presentation in the faculty of Architecture in room C. Mayor decisions about program, location and composition have been made by the students. The presentations will be open for the public, so you are very welcome to join!

Check out what our students are up to by clicking in the links below:

Gintare Norkunaite –  Second Life of the Atomgrad
Martin Dennemark Foundation for Transportation
Zuzanna MielczarekTowards a post-carbon Silesia
Ludo GroenConsumption & Production in Vrin
Wyn Llord Jones – Housing as a means of renewal in the Rhondda
Frederico Riches – Urban Factory
Matiss Groskaufmanis Life That Works

Design and the new Environment & planning Act

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Picture by Jan Dirk van der Burg

We recently started a brand new research project together with the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment. Throughout the coming months we will be exploring the relationship between the new Environment & planning Act (de Omgevingswet) and architectural/urban design.

This new law takes effect in 2018 and will incorporate 4700 articles, 120 general orders in council and 120 ministerial regulations into 1 planning law, 4 general orders in council and 10 ministerial regulations. The aim of this immense operation is to make the decision-making process around spatial interventions more straight forward en efficient. At the same time it responds to changes in society and policy making by creating room for different types of (citizen)participation and should facilitate a more integral approach in which complex spatial questions can be tackled. In other words: Integral, decentral, participatory, transparent and effective seems to be the qualitative goals of the ‘omgevingswet.’

But what will these juridical changes mean for planning and design in a country like the Netherlands – which has as century old tradition of shaping the country through collective effort and control? What is the new context that arises by this systematic change? What are the changing conditions, possibilities and opportunities that this creates for commissioners to use design as a tool to deal with spatial and social challenges? And, what type of expertise and instruments should design, or research by design (as a professional discipline) offer, or develop in the light of this new law?

Through a sharp analysis of the law and the system, learning and studying practices and by means of interviews with stakeholders, we do not just try to understand the relationship between design as this new law, but we aim to investigate how design and design research can help to operationalize the ambitions and the values that are the basis of this law. The goal of this research is to gain insight into what the role of design could be for planning in the new context, for both the designing discipline, as well as for local and regional authorities and other clients. We will look into which tools a designer could use or develop to optimally respond to issues that clients are facing at the comment.

To carry out this project, we have temporarily expanded our team with researcher Jelte Boeijenga and student assistant Nina Bohm. We also launched a new website: http://www.ontwerpwet.nl to keep you updated on our findings! (in Dutch). Any interesting thoughts about this topic? Let us know!

A City of Comings and Goings – E-Publication

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We’ve got a brand new Design as Politics E-publication for you! A City of Comings and Goings – about the spatial implications of migration.

In this publication, originally written for the Dutch urban design magazine De Blauwe Kamer, Wouter Vanstiphout and Michelle Provoost discuss that the way we deal with the current refugee crisis and the locations on which we house those that seek refuge, reveals a wider problem concerning the flexibility and absorption capacity of our cities. They argue that by isolating the refugee crisis we deny the fact that migration has become a fact of life. It will only increase in decades to come and  we should look at the broader phenomenon that concerns not only those fleeing war or poverty but also well-paid expats, migrant workers, nomadic students, architects who travel from city to city and even Dutch workers whose existence has been rendered unpredictable by a more flexible labour market. This asks for different ways of planning our cities in order to deal with demographic fluctuations.

A city of Comings and Goings is a research project initiated by Crimson Architectural Historians and executed in collaboration with the chair of Design as Politics and The Berlage Center for advanced studies in architecture and urban design at TU Delft. A Dutch version of this text was originally published in the Blauwe Kamer Jaarboek Landschapsarchitectuur en stedenbouw 2015.

Wouter Vanstiphout is Professor at the TU Delft Chair of Design as Politics and partner at Crimson Architectural Historians. Michelle Provoost is director of the International New Town Institute and partner at Crimson Architectural Historians.