‘The Entrepreneurial City’ is the theme for the 10th conference of the International Forum on Urbanism (IFoU). Nine conferences have been held in various countries across the world. In face of global and local environmental, social and economic challenges, the conference brings together international planners and designers to deliberate on theories, design and practices related to the entrepreneurial city. The conference will be hosted by the School of Architecture of the Chinese University of Hong Kong on December 14-16, 2017. Continue reading →
Socio-Spatial Processes in Rotterdam
Challenging the City by means of Urban Design
Each year, collaboratively a mix of about 100 students have been challenged to improve the environment of people by strategically intervening in the urban fabric. They have been asked to do so in a sustainable and feasible way, and on a small scale. Next to a majority of urban designers and landscape architects, we’ve seen architects and planners joining the design teams too, and incidentally a social-geographer and a civil engineer. The multidisciplinary approach has added not only to the richness of the scope of solutions, but also and foremost to new understanding of the complex problems the city is facing.
In the past decade, Beijing has focused on overall strategies for its rapid urban development. New functional zones, land-use layout, and a comprehensive traffic system, laid the basis for a booming urban economy, and widespread social wealth. Iconic buildings by global starchitects, including works by the ‘Big Dutch’, are evidence of this development. The city has been reshaped. Yet, along its motorways, and in its streets and alleys, we see other images of the city. People feel lost, houses are dilapidated, and the quality of urban spaces is relatively low. The current generation of international design students is taking on these big small-scale issues. Their designs show a more human-centred approach. Therefore, they take the culture of the city as their starting point and work across disciplines in search of answers. A clear paradigm shift. The collaborating universities of technology in Delft and Beijing strongly support this people-oriented approach by means of research. Here they present the outcome of recent studio work as a visual manifesto, forecasting four major challenges in the long-term development trend of the city: Humanisation of Infrastructural Wastelands; Integration of Modernist Fragments; Recreation of Community Places; Rehabilitation of Daily-Life Environments.
Delft University of Technology and Beijing University of Technology at Beijing Design Week
Design for the People
on invitation of
Shijia Hutong Preservation Association
Chaoyangmen Sub-District Council
23rd September – 7th October 2015
The Shijia Hutong Museum Annex
22 Shijia Hutong (near Dongsi South Street)
Dongcheng District, Beijing
Within boosting big-scale Beijing, community-based spatial action gain exposure. Top-down development and market oriented real-estate is supplemented by communal initiatives. Participatory design is emerging. People ask themselves: How can we make our common courtyards and alleyways more attractive places to linger? Members of the Shijia Hutong Area are pioneering in initiatives inquired by design. Their recently opened museum is one of the many projects. At this place and together with their local partners, the universities of technology of Beijing and Delft present the exhibition ‘Design for the People’ to the public. It showcases a wide set of interrelated design issues inspired and supported by locals: Social investigation and among others the recording of hutong oral history show that improvements on their own living environment are free from any theoretical disciplinary restraint. Their suggestions to strengthen micro-economy derive from local entrepreneurship. Their appreciation for historic streets come from their own memory. Likewise, one will discover that the combat with the increase transport and tourism is foremost their own struggle. In this expo daily issues matter. These have inspired collaborating young designers to rethink issues on a local level. By visualising physical improvements and emphasising the added value for the people, now these designers aim to inspire locals vice versa. Therefore, local residents and visitors are invited to vote for their favoured future.
Liveability and Public Space in the Happy City
9th September 2015, 8:45-10:30h
Delft University of Technology
Room: IO-Bernd Schierbeek
My faculty in Delft is one of the world’s largest in the field of architecture and urban design. “It is a place that is buzzing with life from early in the morning until late at night, with four thousand people studying, working, designing, conducting research and acquiring and disseminating knowledge*.” In this environment, I have supervised quite some graduates in their final master thesis, all focussed on liveability and public space. What can we learn from them and how to proceed?
Singapore has been undergoing a fast growth scheme in a short time frame. No single person, no single firm or institution, not even a single government can solve all themselves. So, within the international Vertical Cities Asia competition, exactly this is challenged in the Paya Lebar area. How to house hundred-thousand people per square kilometre in the future?
There are some who glorify the state or quality of bigness. This seems to be something characteristic of the modern age – the first hosannas began to resound around the dawn of the metropolis. We see it in the writings of Louis Sullivan and in the statements made by Le Corbusier. They like buildings to be big. Bigness is their quality. The notion of ‘bigness’, as pushed forward more recently by among others Rem Koolhaas, is based on complete disconnection between the interior and the exterior. “Bigness is no longer part of any urban tissue”, he thinks. Context – the relationship with the building’s surroundings – is supposedly irrelevant. Nonsense! His theorem is contradicted by studies of existing cases. When a building exceeds a certain size and becomes a large-scale structure, public interiors are created. The increase in the number of people using both these indoors and the outdoor space links big buildings closely to their surroundings, more then do small-scale buildings, and thus far from being isolated, big buildings become more connected. In their urban environments, the interaction becomes visible and multi-level or privately-owned public space is created within big buildings. New public interiors extend the outdoor network and thereby give the building a fine-meshed structure. In essence, as the interiors become more public, the small scale is introduced into the building. The building may be big purely in terms of size, but in many ways it is quite as diverse as any part of the city.
The design of the public space is one of the fundamental assignments for professionals involved in urban design and planning. Constructing and (re)forming the network of public space is even conditional for any kind of urbanity. It includes more than just the lay-out and beauty of spaces, as the design of public space has to be able to facilitate new kinds of usage, preconditioning any plausible development of multiple and complex use, and in general housing the dynamics for social change and exchange. Continue reading →