Category Archives: New Towns

The 500-mile City

How facebook exposes human migrationIMG_0975

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…

article-2529905-1A4E9A1700000578-353_634x357This 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?

mega curch in lagosAs 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, in quarter 3 and 4, we will have 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 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.

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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.

Lets Work! Da Lang Fever 2.0

DaLang151127_FASHION VILLAGE_FINAL_WEB Click on image to enlarge

In the Fall of 2015 the Design as Politics graduation Studio ‘Lets Work!’ visited the Chinese City of Shenzhen on a factfinding excursion. Part of our visit was focused on Da Lang  – a migrant neighborhood in the north of the city. The International New Town Institute, who is working in Da Lang for many years, helped us to set up an amazing program. In order to  thank them for their great efforts, we made this poster as an virtual addition to INTI’s contribution to the Shenzhen Biennale titled: Da Lang Fever 2.0, which is focused on the transformation of a vacant hotel into a place for the empowerment of  migrant workers.

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Shenzhen can rightfully be called the ‘Manchester of the 21st century’ since, just like the northern English town in the nineteenth century’, it is the capital of the current industrial revolutions. It is the place where the most important industrial activities take place, where innovation happens on a tremendous pace and where the urban form, the social structures are most affected by industry’s transformations.

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But Shenzhen is of course also a a consciously planned community, based on the twentieth century model of the New Town. Therefor it is also one of the places in the vast international network of New Towns kept up by the International New Towns Institute, with which our faculty has a close relationship. INTI had been working for some years with the community of Da Lang in the north of Shenzhen, a typical Shenzhen collage of rationally planned factories, densely packed and more organically grown urban villages, that is now making a fast and sometimes harsh transition from pure manufacturing to more design and knowledge based activities. This means that many of the existing urban villages, with their low educated migrant workers communities are threatened with expulsion and the demolition of the urban fabric.

In the middle of this contested urban situated, lies a gigantic, monstrous neo-classical husk of a never opened hotel. INTI has been working with the local community to use this building as a base where the lively culture and entrepreneurship of the urban villages might take root and express itself to the outside world, as a way to assert the value and existence of the existing community, and defend it against the blind replacement with another, rocher class of workers.

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In a day long workshop on the site, and then further design workshops in Delft, the students of the grad studio, translated INTI’s ambitions into an architectural/economic scenario for the building, filling up its endless cavernous halls and long hallways with cultural, economic, domestic and community programs.

The ambition was to show how a building like this could become a hub for a community with many different identities and activities, and could harmonize its existing qualities and people, with the exciting new future it faces as a center for design and fashion based industries. Also the Design as Politics students and tutors used this scenario as a way to report on the mind boggling richness, the density and the inventiveness that they found on the streets and in the buildings of this most dynamic of New Towns.

Our intervention questions the ability of the current top-down approach to planning. to fully regenerate the neighborhood whilst maintaining its identity. Our proposal considers how the hotel structure could be repurposed to create some of the socio-economic conditions necessary to regenerate the neighborhood whilst also incorporating the needs of the existing population of migrant workers. To achieve this, an accessible space catering for all the daily activities of a migrant worker is provided. Spaces for education, production, consumption, dwelling and leisure are provided, as well as the urban circulatory infrastructure needed to engage with though surrounding area. Through the integration of different programmatic functions we believe an active, collaborative environment may be nurtured giving opportunities to migrant workers to acquire the necessary skills and equipment to become entrepreneurs.

The design for the hotel in Dal Lang is not just a group design for the reuse of a building, but also the mémoir of a trip.

 

Real Architectural Solutions For Health Care In Dutch Neighbourhoods

We care a lot! How about you?

Humanitas, a nursing home in Deventer, the Netherlands, accepts local students to live in their home for free, under one condition: the group of students must spent 30 hours each month with (some of) the 160 senior residents. The project aims to create positive social interactions, beneficial to all inhabitants of Humanitas, both students and elderly. By doing this, Humanitas intends to improve the liveability and ‘community feeling’ of the residents of the nursing home and neighbourhood. According to Humanitas managing director, Gea Sijpkes, ‘students bring the outside world in’.

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Today, a trend of decentralizing healthcare can be recognized. Budget cuts by the Dutch government have made it increasingly difficult to get a subsidised place, with the paradoxical consequence that some nursing homes are left with empty rooms. This current ‘emptying out of the care homes’, the closing down of medical centres, and the shift to providing healthcare at regular homes instead of moving people into care homes, creates lots of vacant real estate in the middle of our cities and communities. As a result also social functions are disappearing. This has an especially large impact on areas built in the years after World War 2, in which neighbourhoods where carefully planned around nursing homes and other social real-estate.

Much international attention was paid in the news about the young students moving into the nursing home in Deventer. Considering this a social solution, would it also be possible to come up with spatial solutions in order to redefine buildings and places left open because of the transformation of the healthcare system? How can a neighbourhood be intensified as a meeting place? And how can architectural design contribute to social integration and innovation between the young and old?

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The Chief Government Architect of the Netherlands (de Rijksbouwmeester) has asked Design as Politics to start a research and design project to explore the spatial dimensions of the changing health care system as part of his programme ‘Oog voor de buurt.’ We have involved some of our best students, the International New Town Institute and two talented young designers to conduct this research. Two locations have recently been selected as our case studies. In close collaboration with the involved municipalities, the health care organisations and other related insititutions we will look for option to find new ways to strengthen the relationship between the nursing house and the neighbourhood. The aim is to find solutions that can be applicable to other locations as well.

Read more about this project on the website of the Chief Government Architect (in Dutch): http://www.collegevanrijksadviseurs.nl/actueel/nieuws/2015/10/10/oog-voor-de-buurt-ontwerp-verbindt

UPDATE! Tomorrow’s lectures relocated to Room A

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We have two amazing Design as Politics / International New Towns lectures scheduled tomorrow afternoon! We’ll start at 13:45 with a lecture by Design as Politics’ Wouter Vanstiphout about two late/postmodern New Towns: Milton Keynes in the UK and Cergy Pontoise in France, followed by a presentation by the architect and professor at the Technical University of Cuba, Jorge Pena at 16:00.

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Jorge will not just talk about Havana as it is, but especially about the major changes it will go through and is already going through now that the country is opening up economically and politically, and the harbour will be moved from old Havana to another location, opening up huge development opportunities for this beautiful but fragile city. Jorge will be introduced by Michelle Provoost, director of the International New Town Institute – the co-organizer of this event. More info here

Hope to see you all tomorrow afternoon in room A

 

The New Town on Gebiedsontwikkeling.nu

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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 Gebiedsontwikkeling.nu 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.’

Garden cities
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

LECTURE AND DEBATE BY MICHELLE PROVOOST, ALFREDO BRILLEMBOURG AND HUBERT KLUMPNER

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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.

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 www.utrechtmanifest.nl