The Independent School for the City is a ‘Playground’ for all urban thinkers, do-ers and designers – based in Rotterdam the Netherlands. With an independent agenda, the School brings together critical and experimental ideas in the fields of urban research, design, strategy and activism. Through a range of diverse activities, it provides a platform where urban professionals can meet each other to informally discuss the challenges of the modern city.
The School is a place for anyone working professionally on the city, from any discipline. We work from the belief that urban challenges that are often viewed separately and from different disciplinary perspectives (climate change, migration, affordable housing and inequality) have become inextricably linked in recent years. We believe that our cities must not only be redesigned, but also rethought. When dealing with today’s city, we can no longer afford to separate the conceptual from the practical, the political from the technical, form from content. Exchange between different disciplines is therefore crucial to face the contemporary realities of cities and to arrive at a new kind of urban development, both in terms of research and practice. For this reason, the School is a platform for “urbanism” that also embraces sociology, economics, history and anthropology; anything that helps to better understand and make the city better.
The Independent School for the City aims to be a learning community for everyone concerned with the city. It is a place where architecture is celebrated, shown, and discussed. Where one can discuss the city with other “urbanists,” either as a participant in one of the studios or over drinks, film and music at one of the monthly lecture nights in the raw industrial atmosphere of its headquarters in a Maaskant-designed building. In doing so, the Independent School for the City aims to be as complex, useful and idiosyncratic as the city in which it originated. The School does not defend professional, commercial or political interests and does not engage in city marketing. Ultimately, the Independent School for the City wants to face the challenges of the city with an open mind, without playing nice.