The Concluding Debate

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

ANCB Metropolitan Laboratory in collaboration with Henk Ovink, The Netherlands Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, and in cooperation with the 5th International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR)

Part II: Discussion

Part I
Ole Bouman Director of the Netherlands Architecture Institute, Rotterdam
Kristin Feireiss  Director ANCB The Metropolitan Laboratory and Aedes Architecture Forum
Aine Ryan Programme Manager ANCB The Metropolitan Laboratory
Roelof Bleker Chairman of the Board of The Netherlands Architecture Fund

Introduction (and debate moderation)
Henk Ovink The Netherlands Ministry for Infrastructure and Environment, co-curator 5th IABR: Making City

Part II

Statements by
Wouter Vanstiphout Professor of Design as Politics, Technical University Delft
Thomas Sieverts Founding partner S.K.A.T. Architects and Urban Planners, Bonn

On podium:
Wouter Vanstiphout, Professor of Design as Politics, Technical University Delft
Thomas Sieverts, Founding partner S.K.A.T. Architects and Urban Planners, Bonn
Floris Alkemade, Director Floris Alkemade Architects, Sint-Oedenrode, Brussels, Paris
Petra Wesseler, Head of Urban Development Projects, City of Chemnitz

In front row:
Robert Kaltenbrunner, German Federal Office on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development
Arnold Reijndorp, Professor for Social-economic and Spatial Development of New Urban Areas
Joachim Declerck, Architecture Workroom, Brussels
Pauline Terreehorst, Author and Advisor on urban culture, former director of Utrecht City Museum

Henk Ovink introduced the debate with reference to the disconnect between politics and coordinated responses to complex challenges. He advocated visionary urbanism grounded in learning from the past and collaborative processes and asserted that we must better educate city making professionals tasked with the integration of design and politics.

Wouter Vanstiphout diagnosed the tendency to equate the city with our collective destiny and the lack of any single dominant ideology guiding contemporary city making. He offered the goal of the Just Society and proposed democracy and equality and the re-establishment of the public sphere and the values of solidarity and trust as goals for making city.

Thomas Sieverts then advocated for the replacement of our unsustainable wealth-based planning model with strategies to survive a potentially catastrophic future – the ‘Resilient City’. He defined ‘resilience’ as the ability to maintain identity under conditions of extreme stress and argued for this transformation as a practical necessity but also hoped that it may prove beneficial for making city.

Our distance from existential crises, the dominance of wealth-based planning, and the difficulty of predicting future crises were then argued to represent impediments to resilience. It was speculated that strategies for resilience might be generated through ‘stress testing,’ learning from history and other places, and extrapolations from present conditions. It was suggested that these strategies could include green amenity spaces that can be converted to food production and spatial redundancies accommodating the unplanned. And resilience was also detected at the intersection between the Resilient City and the Just Society, in public space and the decentralisation of responsibility.

The participants stressed the critical role of design education in the necessary transformation of how we make city. There was broad agreement that education must encourage attitudes with the capacity to engage existential, moral and political questions and generate innovative solutions to urban challenges. There was also argument in favour of real-world experimentation and research with the freedom to constructively fail. The discussion concluded with a call to challenge our assumptions around making city and to improve the interface between design and politics through debate among the design disciplines informed by an engaged public.

Summary by Matthew Beattie for ANCB The Metropolitan Laboratory

We would like to thank the following institutions and enterprises for their generous support:
The Netherlands Ministry for Infrastructure and Environment
The Netherlands Architecture Fund
Goethe Institute Rotterdam
International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam
Netherlands Architecture Institute

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Collaborative Project

For a full summary please click here


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