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

New Graduation Studio 2016/2017!

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We are very excited to announce our new 2016/2017 graduation studio: A City of Comings and Goings – Designing for migration and mobility. This studio starts in September 2016 and is open for students of the Architecture, Urbanism and Landscape Architecture tracks at TU Delft. Interested? Send us your motivation before April 18th!

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. In this studio we are looking for 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 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, and design based research, linked to a specific theme but open for your own projects and you own interpretation. We will organize lectures, workshops, and a field excursion 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 (max 1,5 A4 / 600 words) and some examples of your previous writings and design. Deadline:  April 18th 2016. Only limited places available.

This studio organized 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 urbanization in the near future. The results will contribute to a large public event in 2018.

A City of Comings and Goings

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2. Generation Bataclan - Liberation

Throughout the coming months Design as Politics is hosting a series of seminars around ‘the spatial dimensions of migration’ at the Berlage – Center for advanced studies in Architecture and Urban Design. At the first seminar, we looked at migration, the trajectories and in-between-stations of the students themselves, who came from all around the world to study at the Berlage. During the next sessions we will continue exploring the different facets of migration, seen through the eyes of various groups of people: from the refugees trying to find a better future for their kids, to the exchange student that decided to spend 6 months abroad, or the seasonal worker who travels back and forth between countries in search for employment and fair wages. They will all be coverd during the coming months as as part of a larger program around this issue. More about that will follow soon!

After the Paris attacks of 13 November 2015, a photograph of the young and diverse audience at the concert of the ‘Eagles of Death Metal’ was published in the French newspaper Libération. Underneath the photo was written in large letters: Génération Bataclan.

It turned out that the victims of the Paris attacks did not only consist of students who have seen the world in exchange programs or foreign tourists enjoying themselves in Parisian concert venues and trendy bars. Most of the victims just were French citizens, some of whom had emigrated from Chile as children; others had parents who came to France from Algeria or Congo in 1970s. The ‘Génération Bataclan’ represents an urban class that is extremely mobile, with networks of relations that spread across the whole world and that can be quickly mobilised for work or a place to stay. The Bataclan generation can be seen as a global generation existing out of ‘citizens of the world’, characterised by post-Coldwar mobility.

It is precisely this ‘Génération Bataclan’ that is inspiring the Chair of Design as Politics, together with Crimson Architectural Historians and the International New Town Institute, to consider migration as a fundamental phenomenon in present-day Europe. In their essayA City of Comings and Goings’ Wouter Vanstiphout and Michelle Provoost argue that by isolating the refuge crisis as a temporary situation, we are ignoring the fact that migration has become a part of life.

It is an interesting idea that the students at the Berlage Institute also belong to this ‘Génération Bataclan’ and are part of a group characterized by moving; by coming and going. In the first seminar students made a diagram or visualization of their own trajectories and ‘in-between-stations’ in life. Where do they come from? Where did they live in the past years and how did they come to Delft?

It turned out that for some of the students the administrative procedures upon arrival were not as welcoming as for others. Some are already thinking about their next destination in life, while others are dreaming to go back to their country of origin. And all of them are conscious of the fact that belonging is an active process.

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Design and the new Environment & planning Act

Research project

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!

Nurul Azlan Reports from Kuala Lumpur

Nurul-Fieldnote1DJI_0010-700x525Image of Bersih 4 in Kuala Lumpur. Picture courtesy of Malaysiakini.

(This text was originally published on the Global Urban Lab blog). The tension is palpable. It is the morning of August 29th, 2015, and I am peering out the window of my hotel room in central Kuala Lumpur for last minute clues. I have two shirts laid out on the bed, one checkered with yellow and dark blue, and the other is plain black. At the corner of the bed is the yellow Bersih t-shirt I bought after the ‘Your Rights and the Police’ talk I attended a few days earlier. Wearing that t-shirt is out of the question. I am there as an observer, not as a participant. Surely, the yellow and dark blue checkered shirt is safe enough for that purpose? Surely, the authorities are not serious when they announced that yellow items of clothing are banned under the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984? Surely yellow t-shirts are not seditious?

I am in Kuala Lumpur to observe Bersih 4, an organised rally protesting against the 1MDB financial scandal, which also implicates the Prime Minister due to the RM 2.6 billion found in his personal bank account. As the name indicates, this rally is the fourth iteration of such organised by the civil society movement, Bersih 2.0, which is a coalition of NGOs that call for electoral reform. Since achieving independence in 1957, elections are regularly held every five years, even though the same coalition, Barisan Nasional, has won every time. Bersih (Clean in Malay) argue that the electoral system needs to be reformed, due to manipulation of the system such as gerrymandering. After all, elections are, the cornerstone of democracy.

The rallies organised by Bersih have always taken place in Kuala Lumpur, the financial capital of Malaysia, a city established on tin-mining in mid -19th century during the time of colonial British. The first rally in 2007 brought thousands of people to the streets of Kuala Lumpur after a period of relative quietness. That particular protest seemed to have opened the floodgates. There was an explosion of protest activities since then, with a myriad of causes ranging from the purely political to environmental issues.

Nurul2 First day of the protest (August 29th). Picture courtesy of Nurul Azlan

The first Bersih rally in 2007 also witnessed the use of social media, although it was not until the second rally in 2011 that it became truly widespread and, as some have argued, crucial to the success of the rallies in terms of mobilisation. Set against the backdrop of a worldwide eruption of protests in 2011, from Occupy to the Arab Spring, Bersih share a similar trait with the others, a prominent online presence matched with a highly visible occupation of urban space.

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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.