The New Town- From Welfare City to Neoliberal Utopia

New Towns are Politics! That’s why, at the end of this month we will start a public lecture series organized in collaboration with the International New Town Institute carrying the title ‘The New Town– From Welfare City to Neoliberal Utopia.’ The lectures will follow a chronological story on new town planning in the 20th century, explaining how the design of New Towns was based on experiments in the pre-war period with utopian, communal living, was then discovered by national governments as ways to further their very diverse political agendas, later became a symbol of modernization and progress in the postwar… Read More

The Republic of Veneto

“Ballot” is not originally an English word: It comes from the Venetian word ballotta, or “little ball.” For centuries, councils elected the Doge of Venice, who ruled the city-state, with small silver and gold balls. Now Venetians have put their modern equivalent to good use in a bid to declare independence from Italy. And they have a pretty good case to make for restoring their once-mighty republic. Last week, in a move overshadowed by the international outcry over Russia’s annexation of Crimea,, an organization representing a coalition of Venetian nationalist groups, held an unofficial referendum on breaking with Rome. Voters… Read More

Follow The Money Student Work

By now, our graduation studio Follow the Money – Finance, Architecture and the city is already up and running for around half a year. The midterm review is behind us, and this week we will have another pin-up presentation.  This means: time for the first results! Check out what our students are up to by clicking on the links below: Donatas Baltrusaitis – Soviet Object as signs of identity-Vilnius Emilia Bruck – Activating Frampol Bart de Hartog Yuhui Jin – Vitalize Lingang New Harbor City Mikas Kauzonas – Local Potential Pepe Niemeijer – Humanizing the world of banking in the… Read More

Els Leclercq on Radical Contextualism

The TU Delft chair of Urban Design recently organized a symposium around the theme of ‘Radical Contextualism’, as a farewell to their professor Henco Bekkering. Design as Politics’ PhD candidate Els Leclercq attended the symposium, while wondering what contextualism really means for the fast growing cities of the 21st century Radical contextualism was the aptly selected theme of a recent conference held as part of a series of events to bid farewell to the visionary Professor in Urban Design, Henco Bekkering. The concept and theory of radical contextualism was discussed and explored – from both a local and a global… Read More

Braudels Donkey – Historians and the Mediterranean as a Political Project

Design as Politics’ professor Wouter Vanstiphout has recently contributed to Harvard’s New Geographies magazine about The Mediterranean. The article is now turned into one of our own publications. Available here, especially for you! The Mediterranean region, at the intersection of three continents, is one of the most important areas on earth–culturally, politically, and ecologically. In the article, Wouter looks through the eyes of the French historian Fernand Braudel towards recent political and financial developments, and wonders: what unites the Mediterranean? What can Braudel teach u about the region? And what about our ‘own’ European cities?

Hoog Catharijne’s Concrete Rigidity

Last month Design as Politics, together with Failed Architecture and the University of Amsterdam, organized a workshop and debate on the redevelopment of Utrecht’s central station area, and the adjacent Hoog Catharijne business and shopping centre. The workshop and debate focused on the financing models behind large-scale real estate projects and the historical roles and responsibilities of architects and planners in designing these. Our aim was to discuss Hoog Catharijne’s original and current redevelopment plans with experts, students and local stakeholders as part of the Design as Politics graduation studio ‘Follow the Money’. Jan Loerakker and Tim Verlaan of Failed… Read More

Debatavond: Track Changes

Track Changes in Sao Paulo The upcoming public event in The New Institute will bring the debate program ‘Track Changes’ – which took place during the Sao Paulo architectural biennale – back home to the Netherlands. Last November, an international group of architects, urbanists, economists, developers, politicians and architectural historians talked in Brazil about the fierce changes which society undergoes in periods of economic, political or social crisis, and about the role which architects and urbanists can play in this. The themes ‘What’s Your Crisis?’, ‘Bottom-up Is Not Enough’ and ‘We the People’ were the guidelines for these debates. ‘Bottom… Read More

Architecture and Urbanism After the Nation State

Last Monday, Design as Politics’ professor Wouter Vanstiphout gave his third lecture for students following the Urbanism Masters track. After discussing Money in the first quarter, and Democracy during the second, he now confronted the students with the topic of decentralization. Starting from the basic principles of the nation state and the rise and fall of Dutch planning, he discussed the idea of a federal Europe, the concept of charter cities and even autarkic, anarchist and Tolstoyan communities. Wanna know more? Check out the lecture recordings here

The Pruitt-Igoe Myth

Great news! You can now watch the documentary The Pruitt-Igoe Myth online at An essential part for you Design as Politics education! It began as a housing marvel. Two decades later, it ended in rubble. But what happened to those caught in between? The Pruitt-Igoe Myth tells the story of the transformation of the American city in the decades after World War II, through the lens of the infamous Pruitt-Igoe housing development and the St. Louis residents who called it home. The film analyzes the impact of the national urban renewal program of the 1950s and 1960s, which prompted the… Read More

Debate – The Concrete Obduracy of Hoog Catharijne

With Failed Architecture, we’re organizing a workshop on Hoog Catharijne, the iconic late 1960s business and shopping center in Utrecht, focusing on the financial models behind large real estate projects. You’re cordially invited to join the wrap-up, with student presentations and a debate about the role/responsibility of the architect. Panelists: Nanne de Ru, Wouter Vanstiphout and Tim Verlaan. The construction history of the privately initiated redevelopment scheme Hoog Catharijne, located in Utrecht’s inner city, is a classic example of how public and private actors attempted to work together in the field of urban planning during the post-war era. Ever since… Read More