A unique 12-week education programme, dealing with Climate Change, Migration and Spatial Inequality in relation to our urban surroundings, taking place from 06 February till 28 April 2023. Registration deadline: 01 December 2022
In the winter of 2023, the Independent School for the City will again start its intensive 3-month course in contemporary urbanism that takes the modern city as its subject and Rotterdam as its testing ground. Participants in the course are confronted with the inescapable contradictions and complexities of the modern city, while focusing on topics such as social inequality and climate change. We will explore these urban dynamics by bringing together different disciplines, from historical research to artistic expression. In parallel the participants get the opportunity to develop their own project in order to further develop their position towards the major urban challenges of our time.
Participants in the programme get the chance to work together in a community of learning to deepen their knowledge, to develop their ideas and to learn from Rotterdm. They will be offered weekly lectures, excursions and exercises focusing on specific disciplines and methods, tutored by a diverse team of specialists, designers, and researchers. Two thematic workshops allow them to dive deeper into the topics of climate change and superdiversity, to eventually develop their own project.
WK 1-3 / LEARNING FROM ROTTERDAM / 6 FEB - 24 FEB 2023
During the first weeks, participants will be introduced to the School and to the city of Rotterdam. Through expeditions and lectures, look at the city from various perspectives and become familiar with different disciplines and crafts. You will explore the physical but also the invisible realities of the urban landscape while meeting different professionals within the network of the School, whose diverse backgrounds, works, experience and opinions will sharpen your own thinking. In these first weeks you will be learning from Rotterdam while critically reflecting on the trends and developments that influence the city, while developing the first ideas of your own project.
WK 4-5 / LIFE IN A SUPERDIVERSE CITY / 27 FEB - 10 MAR 2023
Because of the port and its connection with the rest of the globe, Rotterdam has attracted people from all over the world for decades already. Nowadays over 170 different nationalities call the city their home. The population has become so diverse that Rotterdam has become part of a worldwide family of Majority-Minority cities – meaning that more than half of the population has a migration background. And, not just the number of nationalities has increased: as generations pass, also the diversity within the different migrant groups has become increasingly complex. This Superdiversity, makes the city interesting, dynamic and attractive, but also creates social tensions. There are huge differences in income, housing situation and development opportunities between the various groups in the city, which is beginning to show signs of segregation. During these two weeks, we aimed to understand this Superdiverse reality by looking at the city through different eyes. We will go out in the streets with various people. While observing and talking to strangers on the street, we aim to reveal the hidden dynamics of daily life.
WK 6 / NO EDUCATION / 13 MAR – 17 MAR 2023
WK7- 8 THE ANTHROPOCENE / 20 MAR– 31 MAR 2023
Just as many cities around the world, Rotterdam has the ambition to become green, sustainable and resilient. All around the city we see projects being developed to transform this car-dominated city, into an attractive and green environment for all its inhabitants, while simultaneously aiming to increase awareness about climate change and sea-level rise. But is it enough? During this thematic block, we’ll dive into the Anthropocene – the geological era marking the dominant human impact on the Earth systems. Through four philosophical viewpoints that one can have of this age of mankind, and while confronting the causes and effects of climate change, biodiversity loss, land-use change et cetera, we will try to bring the effects of our actions close to home, literally and painfully. We’ll use our collective knowledge and imagination to improve, layer and enrich our worldview, to understand our own cities and countries and to develop our own position vis a vis the new normal of the and how we as humans need or want to act.
WK 9 - 11 / POSITION AND STRATEGIZE / 03 April – 21 April
During these weeks, you will take the step from research and observations, to further developing your own project. Time to organise your thoughts and reflect on the ideas and stories that emerged during the previous weeks. Which conflicts did you discovered? What issue or problem do you want to engage with? What position do you want to take as an urban professional? And how do you see the future of the city? We ask you to strengthen your position and to identify what strategy is needed to reach your ultimate goal: you can write an article, make a short movie, design an object or a campaign, plan a landscape or plan a revolution. As long as it is in line with your position and puts your research results to the best use.
WK 12 / PRESENT / 24 April – 28 April
Time to show your work to the world! The Independent School will organise a final collective event around the opening of the exhibition and invite the leaders of the City to see what has been produced and to react to it. We’ll show Rotterdam what we’ve got and finish this intensive programme with a bang!
HOW to ApplY
The densely packed 12-week programme fits within the 90 days period of a tourist visa to the Netherlands. It is based on a five-day work week filled with workshops, lectures and field trips. The regular participation fee for the Dirty Old Town programme is 1500 Euro (no VAT payable). In addition, we offer a Droom & Daad Scholarship (for participation and part of the expenses) to two motivated applicants from and living in one of the low- and middle-income countries on the DAC list.
You can apply for this 3-month programme by sending a motivation (1 A4), your CV (max 2mb) and examples of previous work (max 8mb/5 pages) to info[@]schoolforthecity.nl before 01 December 2022. The programme needs a minimum amount of 8 participants and has a maximum of 20 participants. Applicants will be informed before 05 December 2022 whether they have been accepted, after which a down-payment should be made of 150 Euro. For question please contact info[@]schoolforthecity.nl
You can also apply for each of the thematic workshops that are part of the Dirty Old Town programme as stand-alone courses.
Once unknown and misunderstood, the city of Rotterdam is now more popular than ever. Iconic buildings, bars and restaurants pop up all around town, making it an attractive destination for tourists, students and other visitors from all around the world. The population is growing, house prices are on the rise and the development of new urban districts is in full swing. In less than two decades the city has changed from a harsh and grim, yet poetic, place to a smooth and attractive city that is loved and today is even called hospitable and pleasant.
But no matter how charming the city presents itself, no matter how modern or popular it is, it owes - contrarily enough – a large part of its appeal to its sharp edges; its attraction lies not exactly in being able to offer what you are looking for, but in what it confronts you with unexpectedly: the surprises, the jagged fringes and the opportunities they bring. The city is a real city because it always offers more than what you asked for. It is the darker side that makes her more than a small town. The city is old, dirty and beautiful at the same time. That’s why we love her, why we want to nurture her.
Yet, at the same time, there are still many serious issues in this city that are problematic. Just like other world cities, Rotterdam has to come to terms with social inequality and spatial segregation, with drug-related crime and human trafficking, with pollution and environmental degradation. The city has been part of a global network since her origins and shares these issues with cities worldwide such as Hong Kong or Baltimore, Athens or Accra. Her problems are not unique, but can we devise unique strategies to solve them?
The course will use the Independent School for the City’s methodological triad of Research, Stories, Strategies Action!
Through lectures by the best experts, precisely planned excursions through Rotterdam and mapping exercises, we will uncover the invisible layers of the city, look at sites through various lenses and collect the data needed to take a position vis-à-vis the city’s challenges. We will look at the city as a palimpsest of different systems, ideas, infrastructures, policies and ideologies. Each time, we 'll consider Rotterdam as a means to get a close-up view of global trends and networks.
To share our position on the city with others, in order to turn it into action, we need to construct a strong narrative. That is the subject of the second week dedicated to each theme. Lectures and workshops will be held on the different formats and techniques, the different languages and methods with which a story can be told. From the written manifesto to the exhibition, the political campaign to the utopian plan, the movie to the historical essay. We will discover how a narrative approach not only carries the message we want to share but will shape and influence it too. Through the stories we tell, we start to change the reality of our cities.
The next step is to translate your insights and stories into an urban strategy. Working on the city is not value-free and can only be done together with others. We challenge participants to take a clear position and to actively relate to the city. In order to realize ambitions, partners and money are needed, politicians and local residents have to be included, or activism is necessary. Within a development strategy we describe the steps necessary to achieve our goals.
The last step is to design a concrete action. We have a broad view of what action is. It can be a drawing or a precisely written and timed manifesto. A poster campaign or government-funded master plan; the construction of a prototype or a tactical policy change. An active group of residents can sometimes have just as much impact on the shape of a street as an iconic piece of architecture. With an action we take the first step in the implementation of a strategy and we try to land our ideas in the 'real world'. The programme will conclude with an exhibition and a conversation with researchers, planners and politicians who have been entrusted with Rotterdam’s future.
Tutors and lecturers
Troughout the Dirty Old TOwn programme we will bring in inspiering masters of thinking and making. Next to Ewout Dorman, Mike Emmerik, Annuska Pronkhorst, Michelle Provoost, Simone Rots, Wouter Vanstiphout, Cassandra Wilkins of Crimson Historians & Urbanists and Elma van Boxel and Kristian Koreman ZUS, you will meet Thijs Barendse & Sereh Mandias of De Dépendance, Rene Boer & Mark Minkjan of Failed Architecture, Architect, Curator and FIlmmaker Jord den Hollander, Exhibtion designer Herman Kossmann, urban sociologist Arnold Reijndorp, landscape architect and ecologist Dirk Sijmons, and many others.