[Re]Thinking Cities

2020: A Year without Public Space under the COVID-19 Pandemic!
new publication of The Journal of Public Space

The Journal of Public Space published ‘2020: A Year without Public Space under the COVID-19 Pandemic’. This monumental publication of 280 pages witnesses the year we all lived on social distance dictated by COVID-19 health emergency, a measurement severely affected everyone’s access to public space and with it creating a range of impacts on different levels. Delft University of Technology, as a worldwide recognised leader in the field of urban design and public space, united with more than twenty universities globally to question; how can we face this unprecedented emergency and get prepared to its consequences, with specific regard to health disparity? Will public space restrictions stay in place after the recovery period? Should we just aim to return to a pre-COVID status quo, or for a ‘better normal’? And more generally, what will be the future of public space?

Maurice Harteveld, part of the scientific board, remembers how the situation induced by the COVID-19 crisis in early 2020 immediately brought together the global community of experts on the Design of Public Space; “I remember how the alarm bells didn’t stop anymore in the third week of April. Health situation worsened progressively in China, and a new decree imposing quarantine became in act in Northern Italy. Public space was abandoned there. Without doubt, we started to share local insights and form a global perspective on the issues arising from the pandemic for public space the current situation of public space.” Together with UN-Habitat, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, this became an opportunity to collaborate to re-think how cities should be.

As the pandemic was moving across different continents and urban conditions, through shared online initiative public space experts across the world exchanged experiences of care, solidarity, entrepreneurship, academic perspectives, artistic interpretations, and creative practices of human resilience, engaging more than 100 speakers during 20 webinars from May to September 2020, and more than 2,700 registered attendees from over 80 countries, including representatives from UNHabitat. Global impact of the online initiative ‘2020: A Year without Public Space under the COVID-19 Pandemic’ has been even broader by counting more than 72,000 page views in that same period. This publication encapsulates key learnings globally from the early stage of the pandemic, which stand relevant to this day when we face squarely the same issues as we step into gradually and navigate the post-COVID era.

Download full issue here

Images of Port-Cities

In this video, you will get an explanation on how mental maps help us to (re)imagine port-cities in two steps: First, by explaining generally why people draw what they draw, and second, by explaining how images of port cities, as displayed in mental maps, are rooted and influenced by cultural frameworks of experience, and how they are biased according to the particular background of the beholder.

This educational video is part of the course Re-Imagining Port Cities: Understanding Space, Society and Culture available for free via online-learning TUDelft , and at the EdX MOOC platform. ©️ TU Delft, released under a CC BY NC SA license.

See also: the introduction video on Mental Mapping and the full MOOC on EdX: (Re)Imagining Port Cities: Understanding Space, Society and Culture

Mental Mapping

In this video, you hear more about the concept of a ‘mental map’, the mapping method, or the underlying theory, and why it matters, and how you can use it to educate others.

But before you watch, choose a port-city, and do a small exercise: sketch a map of your port city from memory.

  1. If you have trouble getting started, just imagine you are walking through your port city. What would you see on the way? Are there specific elements or landmarks that stand out? Those are the kind of elements to include in your map. And don’t worry about getting all the details exactly right, it is just a sketch…
  2. Do this all by yourself: close your laptop, put your tablet to sleep, turn your smartphone around, do not consult any books, and do not talk to anyone…
  3. Draw your map on a blank, unlined sheet of paper, and don’t spend more than ten minutes on this task!

Don’t worry about details; this map is not meant to be perfect!

This educational video is part of the course Re-Imagining Port Cities: Understanding Space, Society and Culture available for free via online-learning TUDelft , and at the EdX MOOC platform. ©️ TU Delft, released under a CC BY NC SA license.

See also: the subsequent video on Images of Port Cities and the full MOOC on EdX: (Re)Imagining Port Cities: Understanding Space, Society and Culture

Mapping Maritime Mindsets: Mental Maps

Imagine: You are asked to draw a port city from memory. What would you put on paper? Do you think of harbours? Water, docks, cargo, moving loads, and ships? If your drawing shows these elements, don’t be surprised. Sixty-five graduate students also took on the challenge. In answering: “draw the port city of Rotterdam by mind”, the drawings of the participants (fig.1) displayed exactly the above features. Of course, this makes sense. A port just happens to be a place on the water in which ships shelter and dock to (un)load cargo and/or passengers. A harbour is a sheltered place too, and in its nautical meaning, it is a near-synonym for sheltered water, in which ships may dock, especially again for (un)loading. So, all the above linguistic lemmas are there and all these are connected to imaginable objects.

Keep reading on Port City Futures | Leiden•Delft•Erasmus

Design for Values Symposium

On the occasion of its Dies Natalis celebration, the Delft University of Technology together with the Delft Design for Values Institute has organised a symposium on Design for Values.

Design for Values means making design choices with explicit reference to and for reasons of moral and social values throughout the entire design or engineering process. The symposium centers around research supporting design for values, with a focus on Value Dynamics (how to design for values that change over time) and Value Conflicts (how to deal with frictions that emerge between two or more values within design and engineering processes).
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Architectural and Urban Design for Values

In a Dies Satellite Event celebrating the 178th anniversary of the TU Delft, the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment introduces their collaborative research on values to a wider audience, as it is present and emerging within its rich set of disciplines, including architectural and urban design, building technology, process management, and geo-information science. The faculty answers on the questions: How to deal with value dynamics when designing for values? How can we successfully operationalise values to inform design decisions, whilst anticipating possible value changes? How does the theory apply to specific application areas, such as architecture and urban design?
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Democratic, Inclusive, Agential Cities


This article highlights the dynamics of values in our reasoning on public space. By means of an epistemological study, illustrated by examples in the Dutch city of Amsterdam, it tests the contemporary premises underlying our ways to safeguard the inclusive, democratic, agential city, and, as such, it aims to update our view on public space. The article raises three subsequent main questions: [i] Is the city our common house as perceived from the Renaissance onward, containing all, and consequently are public spaces used by the people as a whole? [ii] Is the city formalising our municipal autonomy as emphasised since the Enlightenment, in an anti-egoistic manner, and in this line, are public spaces owned by local governments representing the people? And, [iii] is the city open to our general view as advocated in Modern reasoning, restricting entrepreneurial influences, and synchronically, is its public spaces seen and/or known by everyone? – Inclusiveness, democracy, and agentiality are strongholds in our scientific thinking on public space and each issue echoes through in an aim to keep cities connected and accessible, fair and vital, and open and social. Yet, conflicts appear between generally-accepted definitions and what we see in the city. Primarily based upon confronting philosophy with the Amsterdam case for this matter, the answering of questions generates remarks on this aim. Contemporary Western illuminations on pro-active citizens, participatory societies, and effects of among others global travel, migration, social media and micro-blogging forecast a more differentiated image of public space and surmise to enforce diversification in our value framework in urban theory and praxis.

Read full article online:
Harteveld, Maurice (2019) ‘Reviewing Premises on Public Spaces in Democratic, Inclusive, Agential Cities, illustrated by Amsterdam’, In: The Journal of Public Space, 2019, Volume 4, Number 2, pp. 123-143

The Journal of Public Space is open access, contents are freely accessible under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY NC).

For the full issue: Vol. 4 n. 2 | 2019 | FULL ISSUE

Editors: Maurice Harteveld and Hendrik Tieben
Managing Editor: Luisa Bravo
Publisher: City Space Architecture / UN-Habitat

Graduation Ceremony MADE

The first lucky 7 students have graduated from the MSc MADE (Metropolitan Analysis, Design and Engineering) programme! They received their well-earned MSc diploma during a festive graduation ceremony at AMS Institute. Two years ago, they joined AMS Institute together with elven others for classes on metropolitan challenges, entrepreneurial skills, and data analysis in the urban context. Now they have developed to be the first generation of interdisciplinary metropolitan innovators.

On September 24th, we have celebrated this milestone together with their family and friends when receiving their joint degree diplomas from Delft University of Technology and Wageningen University & Research. This is extra special as these are the first engineering degrees that are handed out in the city of Amsterdam in over 450 years! It has been quite an adventure to write this progrogramme from 2016 until its successful accreditation, and, subsequently, I am happy to have been the first director of this programme. Continue reading

Stations as Nodes

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Official book launch Stations as Nodes

See also: Metropolitan Stations and Integrated Mobility Challenges

Metropolitan Stations

Places for Change and Innovation

A train station has always been a space for many and it is about time to be approached and designed as such. The urgency is there. Stations have become an intermodal hub with a large crowd being present. From a human perspective, it makes sense: Stations are part of the larger network of public spaces, indoors – outdoors, and interlink other hybrid places and buildings. The more people flock to the city, the more move and stay at stations and/or elsewhere close-by. The role of stations in the network strengthens. More and different people are present. As such, from the observation that the whole is more than the sum of fixed demarcated elements, ever-changing human hubs are perfect settings for place-based innovation in design and by design, because where people move, society changes, and where strangers meet change takes place.

Station as Nodes

Read the article: Metropolitan Stations, Places for Change and Innovation (2018) by Maurice Harteveld (c)

See also: Station as Nodes and Integrated Mobility Challenges