research and design studio on city development and the roles of architecture, property and capital
Since the start of de-regulation policies in the 1990 and the following rise of Neo-liberalism, architecture and urban planning have been increasingly influenced and dictated by capital markets, investors and private equity. If the financial crash of 2007 showed anything, it was that real-estate - and therefore architecture and urban development - had become fully intertwined with capital markets and the global economy. Over-fed on sub-prime real estate mortgages, the financial markets nearly collapsed. In the Netherlands, this crisis led to the unemployment of 50% of the Dutch architects and to 8 years of a near complete building freeze. During this period, the Dutch government (but also more governments in Europe) retreated even further from the role of initiator and client for architecture and urban development, leaving the initiative in real estate and the build environment to ‘the market’ and taking on the role as facilitator.
Now, with the real estate market back in full swing, it is becoming clear what these gradual changes have done to the way the city is being shaped. Market forces are indeed taking the initiative. The omnipresence of capital as a driving force seems to be a given. In many instances the role of the architect and urban planners has been reduced to that of concept designer of the development, often leaving out the classical roles of technical detailing and building site supervision.
In this two-week studio, organized in collaboration with Powerhouse Company, we will critically explore and uncover the role of capital in the way our cities and buildings are being shaped. We will look at the city through the lens of global capital in order to understand how we could use that view in order to shape our vision of a better city. We will do that by using the classical economic analyses of the city by researching the roles of Property (land and real estate), Labour (in this case, architecture and design) and Capital (finance). During this studio we will focus on Rotterdam, which, due to its partial destruction during World War II, has become a rich testing ground for real estate development experiments over the last 70 years.
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The program starts on Monday 21 October and will finish on Thursday 31 October. It consists out of five full days (10:00 - 18:30) and 4 evenings (19:00 - 22:00), during which participants will take part in a range of activities, including lectures, conversations with professionals, field trips, collective work, and presentations. The program is organized in two parts:
#1. Analysis: Property, Labour, and Capital in RotterdamThe first part of the studio will consist of a thorough analysis of three extraordinary case studies in the city of Rotterdam: Rotterdam Central Station, completed in 2013 by Benthem Crouwel, Meyer & Van Schooten, and West 8; the Schieblock, a former office building redeveloped by ZUS and CODUM into an incubator of urban initiatives; and Baan Tower, an ongoing project for a residential high-rise initiated by a team including Powerhouse Company and RED Company, to be completed in 2022. As landmarks in the development of the contemporary city, these three projects represent different approaches to real estate and architecture: from a collaboration between public and private to a self-initiated project, to a seamless integration of development and design.
A series of lectures and field trips led by professionals involved in the realization of the projects will guide the participants toward an understanding of the hidden aspects of architectural production. Instead of focusing exclusively on the design of the buildings, we will look at how the three factors of property, labour, and capital have shaped the development process, from the initial idea to the completion of the building. Participants will extract a series of strategic tools that were used in the process and summarize them through diagrams.
#2. Strategy: Hacking the Capitalist City.During the second part of the studio, participants will work in teams to use the discovered tools related to property, capital, and labour to develop their own strategy for the city of Rotterdam. Starting from your personal fascinations and backgrounds, you will generate an innovative plan to address a specific issue in the city of Rotterdam. Guided by tutors, relevant lectures, and conversations with professionals, you will develop a strategy to implement your plan, generate profit and harness its cultural, social, environmental, or political cause against purely commercial thinking.
The proposals should aim to answer the following question: How can the strategic tools of the capitalist city be used to generate non-financial value? In order to answer this, participants can envision any form of urban intervention, selecting the scale, location, and program they wish. At the end of the workshop, each group will pitch their strategy to the other participants, tutors, and external critics. The proposals should focus on concept, goal, financial strategy and marketing plan, stakeholder involvement, initiation strategy, and time frame.
Monday 21 October (Evening)19:00 – 22:00 Introduction and Lectures
Tuesday 22 October (Evening)19:00 – 22:00 Introduction and Lectures
Wednesday 23 October (Full Day)10:00 – 18:30 Location visits and teamwork on case studies
Thursday 24 October (Full Day)10:00 – 18:30 Teamwork on case studies and Lectures
Friday 25 October (Full Day)10:00 – 17:00 Teamwork on case studies18:00 – 22:00 School’s Out! #7 with Alfredo Brillembourg
Saturday 26 October (Optional)10:00 – 17:00 school open – teamwork on case studies
Sunday 27 October (Optional)10:00 – 17:00 school open – teamwork on case studies
Monday 28 October (Full Day)10:00 – 18:30 Presentation of case study research, lectures and teamwork on strategies.
Tuesday 29 October (Full Day)10:00 – 18:30 Teamwork on strategies and lectures.
Wednesday 30 October (Evening)19:00 - 22:00 Teamwork on strategy
Thursday 31 October (Evening)19:00 - 22:00 Final presentations
The participation fee for this 2-week programme is 800 Euro (no VAT payable). Early Bird tickets are available for 500 Euro until 18 September. Participants can enrol at www.independentschoolforthecity.nl before the 15 September 2019. The course will be cancelled and refunded in case less than 10 participants enrol. Participants will be informed before the 27th of September 2019.
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