Rebuilding Destroyed Cities, 1940 - 2022
A two week Summer School on rebuilding cities after their destruction. Learning from Rotterdam while exploring alternative scenarios and contemporary urban concepts. with Tomas Dirrix, Crimson Historians & Urbanists and the Post-war reconstruction Community Rotterdam. 18 - 29 July 2022.
The participation fee for this Summer School is 500 euro. A discounted fee of 400 euro applies for those registered at an education institute. In order to make use of the student discount, you can send an email including your proof of registration to info[@]Schoolforthecity.nl The Studio needs a minimum of 8 participants and has a maximum of 20 participants. Those who register will be informed at least two week in advanced whether the course can continue.
Rotterdam belongs to a category of cities that in recent history has been destructed. Cities in which the trauma of the destruction and the subsequent reconstruction have become an important part of their identity. This family includes cities like Warsaw, Aleppo, Dresden, Mostar, Skopje and Gibellina, Middelburg, Le Havre, all of them destroyed by war or natural disaster. Recently, also Mariupol and Charkov have involuntarily joined this category.
In this Summer School we will take you back to the destruction and the reconstruction days of Rotterdam, in order to better understand the urban concepts of those days. Because: no plan is more ideological and tells more about the hopes and the fears of a society than a reconstruction plan. But we also want to understand our own, contemporary urban concepts. What if we needed to make a reconstruction plan in 2022? What are our own hopes and fears we would want to project? Going back to the rubble of 1940, we will put ourselves in the shoes of urban planners and come up with a vision for the destroyed city. As always, we are looking at Rotterdam as a pars pro toto for other cities in the world. A city which still anchors its famed modernist, can-do mentality and its constant building frenzy in the fact that large parts of the city had to be completely rebuilt after the Second World War. This is not only visible in the city’s buildings and streetscape; next to the physical city, there exists an imaginary Rotterdam of post reconstruction rhetoric and the heroic myth of a city rising from the ashes.
Over the period of two weeks, we will look at the phenomenon of the reconstructed city mostly through excursions and field research to eventually speculate on alternative realities of the city. During the first week you will learn to ‘read’ and unravel the complex urban tissue of Rotterdam through lectures, cartographic research and excursions, guided by the historians of Crimson, Wouter Vanstiphout and Michelle Provoost. We look at the dominant narrative that is being told, but also into the less known aspects of the reconstruction. Because the reality of Rotterdam’s past is much more subtle than the rhetoric wants us to believe.
In the second week of the Summer School we will take the role of the planners in 1940, at the beginning of the war, when the scale of the destruction became clear. We will again take the clean slate of Rotterdam after the bombing in order to speculate on alternative realities, strategies and visions for Rotterdam. We will project our present ideas and ideals on it, creating a city which fits our contemporary needs and dreams. You don’t need to be an urban planner to participate; we will use whatever medium is necessary: from collages to axonometric drawings, from pencil sketches to written statements.
This two week Summer School will result in as many ‘parallel Rotterdams' as there are participants in the course, each of them representing a specific point of view, a manifesto even about the global question of how to reconstruct destroyed urban heritage. The cities will be shown to the public in an exhibition.
Tomas Dirrix graduated with honors in Architecture from Delft University of Technology, and has followed architectural studies both in Mendrisio, Switserland and Ahmedabad, India. Tomas worked for OMA and led the research and design driven office of Diederendirrix architects in Rotterdam. He co-founded Studio Ossidiana in 2014 and left the practice early 2017. In 2017, he founded his own architectural practice Atelier Tomas Dirrix after winning the Meesterproef competition for emerging architects from the Netherlands and Flanders (Vlaams Bouwmeester). The practice was awarded the Unfair Architect Award for the design of the biennial exhibition with works of 40 young and promising artists and recieved the Arc Young Talent award in 2018. Recently Tomas Dirrix has undertaken a series of artistic and research-driven projects at Thread, Senegal as part of the Albers Foundation and at the EKWC (European Ceramic Work Centre) in Oisterwijk, The Netherlands. Tomas is a teacher of the graduation year at Architectural Design at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam and has run various studios at Interiors, Buildings Cities/TU Delft and at various Academies of Architecture including Tilburg and Rotterdam. He is regularly invited for juries in the Netherlands and abroad.
Michelle Provoost is part of the Dean Team of the Independent School for the City, co-founder of Crimson Historians and Urbanist, and director of the International New Town Institute. She is an architectural historian specialised in urban planning history, postwar architecture and contemporary urban development. Michelle teaches at various universities in the Netherlands and abroad and continues to be in great demand as a public speaker. She lectures regularly throughout Europe, Asia, Africa and the United States, and has been involved in many municipal, national and private committees and juries.
Wouter Vanstiphout is an architectural historian and researcher who has written extensively on urbanism and spatial politics. He is part of the Deans Team of Independent School for the City and founding partner of Crimson Historians & Urbanists. He held the chair Design & Politics at the TU Delft, which explored, researched and defined the boundaries, commonalities and tensions between the fields of politics and design. He has directed the renewal of the Dutch industrial satellite town of Rotterdam: Hoogvliet and advises municipalities, the national government, housing corporations and Project Developers on matters relating to urban renewal, cultural heritage and spatial and urban politics. From 2012 to 2016, he was a member of the national advisory council on the environment and infrastructure (RLI).
Mike Emmerik is Director of the Independent School for the City and partner at Crimson Historians & Urbanists. He was trained as an urban designer at the Delft University of Technology and subsequently worked in the Faculty of Architecture as a teacher and researcher within the Chair of Design as Politics. Mike took part in various research and design projects at the intersection of urban development and policymaking and is affiliated with the Dutch Board of Government advisors from which he advises the national government and local authorities on issues related to urbanisation and mobility.
With Contributions by
Post-war reconstruction Community Rotterdam
The post-war reconstruction community Rotterdam (Platform Wederopbouw Rotterdam) aims to raise awareness amongst Rotterdammers about the reconstruction history of the city, in order to create more involvement with their urban surroundings. From the wartime bombardment to the present day, focusing on the eastern section of the city centre. That’s the place where the city’s reconstruction started, when the first pile was driven into the ground on 15 April 1941.
The platform tells the stories of these buildings, people and events in several ways; through guided tours, exhibitions, lectures, social media and b y organizing the yearly Reconstruction Day. But the main medium for all these stories is their website. This is the place to find information about the reconstruction in Rotterdam! More info here
Monday 18 July 2022
Introduction and excursions
Tuesday 19 July 2022
Mapping exercise: the morphology of Rotterdam
Wednesday 20 July 2022
Work on exercise
Thursday 21 July 2022
Presentation of first results, lectures and conversations
Friday 22 July 2022
Lectures and excursions
Monday 25 July 2022
Briefing: Speculative alternative realities for Rotterdam
Tuesday 26 July 2022
Work on assignment and lectures and conversations
Wednesday 27 July 2022
Work on assignment and lectures and conversations
Thursday 28 July 2022
Prepare for presentations, set up exhibition
Friday 29 July 2022
The Summer School is open for everyone who feels comfortable with the job description ‘Urbanist,’ from architects to sociologists, and from historians to artists. While we require a professional level of working an thinking the course is also open for ambitious (master) students. Click here to find out more about the previous participants and how they experienced our courses.