The Independent School for the City organizes a whole range of shorter and longer courses for everyone how professionally works on the city. Here you find an overview of our previous courses, the results, testimonials by participants and photographic reports.
14 - 18 November 2022- A one week studio with BURA urbanism
Spatial development and urban planning have throughout the past decades become largely driven by a focus on economic growth and the effects are undeniable in our cities and spatial planning practice: the shortage of housing and the ever-rising house prices, speculation with land and real estate, the impact of urban development on our climate, the depletion of natural resources for building materials, and the subsequent pollution and spatial segregation are just some of the examples. Within this one-week studio with BURA urbanism we aimed to come up with alternative models for an urban development that is not aimed at economic growth, but which considers a better balance between people, animals and nature. A model that focuses on a habitable and just living environment, on the sustainable use of food, water, energy, and materials, and on meaningful work for as many people as possible. What impact could a post-growth economy have on the way that we plan and develop our cities and villages? What is needed to make a radical change? And what models and inspiring case studies already exist as an alternative to the current growth-centered model? Together we looked for answers and ways out. More info here
7, 8 & 15 October 2022 - A Research by Photography studio with Charlie Koolhaas
While being nicknamed ‘Manhattan on the Maas’ mainly because of its shiny skyline, Rotterdam might truly be the most American city in the Netherlands. At least, that’s what artist, photographer, and writer Charlie Koolhaas noticed when moving to Rotterdam some years ago. In this research-by-photography studio, Charlie will take us out into the city to explore where and how this Americanism reveals itself in Rotterdam, what it means and for whom. From car cruising and hip-hop culture to the city’s entrepreneurialism that pervades everyone. Armed with a camera we will together explore the city of Rotterdam, where Cultural dynamics are high and as Charlie puts it: “where life casually reveals the undeniable vitality, successes and failures of Europe's multi-cultural project at a moment in history when it's under siege.” The joint production of photographs of all participants will be edited into an exhibition combining into one visual narrative. More info here
22/23/29/30 September 2022 – On the future proof planning of housing in the Netherlands, with ZUS
Just like many other countries in the world, the Netherlands is currently facing multiple crisis; next to a housing shortage of 1 million homes, we have to deal with the consequences of climate change, soil subsidence, a nitrogen surplus and the energy transition. Therefore ZUS, MANN and the International Architecture Biennial of Rotterdam, have taken the initiative to initiate the Ministry of Make! The Ministry of Make! is calling on 100 architects, engineers, and designers to o eventually develop a future proof concept for 10,000 sustainable homes at one of the 100 selected test locations. During this studio we worked as a team to research two of the test sites, using a specially developed Test Kit containing everything necessary to build a model. The model of our urbanisation concept will eventually be united with the other 99 models in an exhibition at the 10th International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR) that shows the magnitude of the upcoming reconstruction of the Netherlands. More info here
05 Sept - 06 Oct 2022 - With Architecture Film Festival Rotterdam
The Independent School for the City and the Architecture Film Festival Rotterdam (AFFR) have joined forces again to organize the next edition of the famous Film and Architecture Studio, supervised by architect, curator, and filmmaker Jord den Hollander. The Film and Architecture Studio has proved itself in the past years as one of the most acclaimed courses on film and architecture in the world. It offered a comprehensive way to use cinematic language as a way to explore the relationship between film, cities and architecture. It is a hands-on studio that focuses on learning and understanding the narrative of filmmaking as a research tool to better understand our urban surroundings. Participants in this course were introduced to the essential elements of filmmaking and learned how to relate these to architecture and the city. The focus of the studio was not so much on the technical aspects of filmmaking and postproduction, but rather on film as a tool to structure your thoughts and to turn your findings into a gripping narrative. More info here
28 MAY 2022 with Wesley Degreef and Jasper van der Linden of BC architects
On Saturday 28 May, we are hosting a one-day workshop led by Wesley Degreef and Jasper van der Linden of BC Architects, exploring the possibilities of building with loam and local clay. BC Architects (Brussels Cooperation) is a collective of Brussels architects and artists, which has three organizational structures: BC Architects, an architectural design office in the normal sense; BC Studies, which researches how social design and architecture can contribute to the contemporary and global Zeitgeist in an independent way; and BC Materials, which uses urban mining to gather earth from building sites and transform it into circular building materials. During the workshop we will learn about the ins and outs of using Rotterdam's soil for the development of building materials. More info here
31 JAN - 22 APR 2022 An intensive 12 week education programme on contemporary urbanism.
This annual intensive education programme in contemporary urbanism takes the modern city as its subject and Rotterdam as its testing ground. During 12 full weeks in February, March and April 2022, we explored the inescapable contradictions and complexities of the modern city by bringing together different disciplines from historical research to artistic expression. Collectively we looked at the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead of us, by explicitly focusing on the character of the city, which is not only defined by its trendy restaurants and iconic buildings, but also by its sharp edges. Through a series of lectures, excursions and three thematic workshops on Superdiversity, Crime & Control, and the Anthropocene, the participants eventually developed their own project which was presented during a final event on the 21st of April.
14 - 25 MAR 2022 with Dirk Sijmons and Herman Kossmann
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.
02 - 09 MAR 2022 with Kristian Koreman and Elma van Boxel
Over the past decades we’ve seen an increase of control and safety measures appearing in our public spaces. Some of them are clearly visible such as concrete barriers and fences, or disguised into flowerpots, sitting objects or other types of street furniture. Others such as surveillance cameras are barely noticed by the average city dweller, or completely invisible in the case of GPS-trackers or other sensors. While the measures might help to keep our cities safe, they also have an impact on the use of public space in terms of democratic performance and representations. Who is watching is watching us, what is done with the data, and until what extend does it influence our behavior? During this studio, we have been mapping and investigating the borders between the public and private domain, focusing on the heart of Rotterdam: the Binnenrotte. This eventually led to an enormous ‘Shady Nolli’ map, on which not only public and private spaces are shown but as well surveillance, safety, barriers, senses, vegetation and any other aspects that have an effect on the public realm.
14 - 25 FEB 2022 with Arnold Reijndorp and Neeltje ten Westenend
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 - cities in which more than half of the population has a migration background. And, not just the amount of nationalities has increased: as generations pass, also the diversity within the different migrant groups has become increasingly complex. This increased diversity, or 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. The spatial spread across the city is also beginning to show signs of segregation. During these two weeks, we aimed to understand this Superdiverse reality through photography in combination with participatory research: observation, walks and talks. We asked the participants to step up to people and engage with them in conversation about what they are doing and how they are living, and to capture hidden, unlocked experiences and phenomena about their life.
10/11/12 DEC 2021 with Bart Gorter and Ernst van der Hoeven
From the beginning of civilization,weaving has played a cultural and artistic role in societies worldwide. Also the economic and scientific influence of the design and technology of looms has been significant: more than two centuries ago, the first punch cards were used on looms, which can rightfully be seen as the prerunners of the computer and formed the basis for the industrial revolution. This course offered the participants an exploration into the three-dimensional meaning of weaving on a huge, traditional Finnish weaving loom. It was a communal journey for which the Independent School for the City has teamed up with visual artists Bart Gorter and Ernst van der Hoeven, to understand the principles of weaving and to discover it as a metaphor for urban planning, for architecture and urbanism, for the computer, for the landscape and many more things. The course resulted in various smaller, and one large monumental rug, collectively woven by the participants.
15 - 19 OCT 2021 with Crimson Historians & Urbanists
City of Comings and Goings was a one-week studio exploring the city of Rotterdam in terms of migration and mobility. The studio aimed to go beyond the usual categories of ‘migrants’ vs. ‘natives’ and looked at migration as a shared identity of nearly all citizens: from those who just arrived, to others who have been there for generations, from those migrating from the Dutch countryside to the city, to those that have travelled the oceans from other continents. Focusing on the Afrikaanderwijk – a working-class neighbourhood on the southern bank of the city – the participants conducted a combination of quantitative, data driven research and qualitative research through interviews and news articles. By doing so they not just look at the current situation, but also got a better understanding of what happened over the past 15 years in which numerous plans and a plethora of social, physical and art projects were executed, which resulted in the Afrikaanderwijk becoming the “frontline of gentrification”. More info here
18 - 22 OCT 2021 with Peter Veenstra (LOLA Landscape Architecture)
Planting trees has become a popular project for local and national governments all around the world. It’s contributing to combatting climate change, and everyone loves the forest. But not all forests are the same. There are happy forests and sad forests. Productive forests and harmful forests. So, the question is: how can we make a valuable forest? How can we use this movement to create better living environments for everyone? In this workshop we will focus on afforestation within the city limits of Rotterdam. Can we turn Rotterdam into an inhabitable forest? What would it mean for the city? And what are the limitations? In line with today’s spirit, the workshop will lead to real action: planting trees in Rotterdam. More info here
07 - 28 SEPT 2021 With Architecture Film Festival Rotterdam
The Independent School for the City and the Architecture Film Festival Rotterdam (AFFR) joined forces again in September 2021 to organize another edition of the online film and architecture studio, supervised by architect, curator and filmmaker Jord den Hollander. Spread over various evening sessions, the online Film and Architecture Studio offered a comprehensive way to use cinematic language in architecture and urban design. It was a hands-on studio that focused on learning and understanding the narrative of filmmaking as a way to explore the built environment. Participants in this course were introduced to the essential elements of filmmaking and learned how to relate these to architecture and the city. The focus of the studio was not so much on the technical aspects of filmmaking and postproduction, but rather on film as a way to structure their thoughts and to turn the findings into a gripping story. Throughout the period of a month, the participants conducted research in their immediate surroundings focusing on the public squares while discussing their progress and ideas through weekly online meetings. Internationally renowned DOP Thomas Kist and the Italian antropologist and filmmaker Elia Romanelli, talked with them about heir work, and eventually we got together in Rotterdam for the festive screening of the short movies and to attend the opening of the Architecture Film Festival Rotterdam.
19 - 30 JUL 2021 Summer School in collaboration with Alfredo Brillembourg
In this studio we explored new development strategies for collective affordable housing in Rotterdam together with architect Alfredo Brillembourg and Tessa Steenkamp of Urban Think Tank Design Partners. After an introduction to Rotterdam’s housing market, its contemporary challenges and its affordable housing legacy, and conversations with various experts in the field, the participants developed different strategies for alternative housing models: from maximum commoning to vacancy management without an intermediary and from co-operative housing, or even no-cost housing, to a digital platform for vacant property and sharing information on community based living. More info here
01 FEB 2021 - 25 APR 2021 an intensive 12 week programme on contemporary urbanism
In February 2021 we started an intensive 12week course in contemporary urbanism that took the modern city as its subject and Rotterdam as its testing ground. During these weeks we explored the urban dynamics by bringing together different disciplines from historical research to artistic expression. Participants in the programme looked into the inescapable contradictions and complexities of the contemporary city. Using Rotterdam as a pars pro toto for many other cities in the world, we’ve beeen looking beyond its current popularity and tried to see the city as it really is, and as we can imagine it to become. Collectively we explored the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead of us, but also looked explicitly at the character of the city. This is not only defined by its trendy restaurants and iconic buildings, but also by its sharp edges. It's a place that can be old, new, dirty and beautiful at the same time. It is this complexity that we love, and which simultaneously poses challenges for our city. This intensive programme included a series of lectures, excursions and workshops focusing on specific research methods and pressing social issues. Three thematic workshops formed the backbone of the course: Inequality in a Superdiverse City, Crime as part of a Global Network and Citizens of the Anthropocene.
10 NOV 2020 - 05 JAN 2021 online studio with the Architecture Film Festival Rotterdam
After a successful first edition, we have joined forces again with the AFFR to organize the Film and Architecture Studio supervised by curator and filmmaker Jord den Hollander. Now taking place online, the Film and Architecture Studio offers a comprehensive way to use cinematic language in architecture and urban design. It was a hands-on studio that focuses on learning and understanding the narrative of filmmaking as a way to explore the built environment. Participants in this course are introduced to the essential elements of filmmaking and will learn how to relate these to architecture and the city. The focus of the studio is not so much on the technical aspects of filmmaking and postproduction, but rather on film as a way to structure thoughts and to turn findings into a gripping story. Participants in this course were asked to explore the physical surroundings in times of Corona. See the results here
03-07 AUG 2020 with Failed Architecture
Cities are increasingly becoming smooth, scripted and completed urban landscapes, apparently freed from any kind of imperfection, abnormality or friction. The rise of the ‘smooth city’ is a major shift in the development of the city, and is closely related to similar processes of ‘smoothening’ in other domains, such as fashion or consumer technologies. For this one-week summerschool, the Independent School for the City has teamed up with René Boer and Mark Minkjan of Failed architecture to collectively research contemporary urban smoothness and explore what the consolidation of the ‘smooth city’ means for the conflictive, non-normative and subversive side of the 21st century polis? Does the ‘smooth city’ threaten the vitality of public domain, and even the democratic character of our cities? More info here
09-20 MAR 2020 with Dirk Sijmons and Herman Kossmann
This studio was a journey along four philosophical viewpoints that one can have on the Anthropocene - the age of mankind. It was a bumpy ride, during which we embraced each perspective to the fullest and explored what it will actually mean for our daily life. We tried to look at the world completely different again each week, ultimately challenging the participants to take their own position towards the world we live in and get to know the complexities the Age of Mankind is going to confront us with. There were close encounters with philosophers, transition experts, movie directors and environmental scientists. The studio was about using our knowledge and imagination to improve, layer and enrich our worldview, to understand our own country and our own position vis a vis the new normal of the Anthropocene (e.g. climate change) and how we as humans need or want to act. Participants got the chance to work with various thinkers on the forefront of thinking about climate change.
23-24 JAN 2020 Reconstructive Pottery workshop with Sam Jacob
Peculiar Museum of Speculative Artifacts
An instant museum of artifacts that speculates on the relationship between history, narration and objects.
Working with your hands and eyes, making them dirty in equal amount, you can create narratives about the city you live in, its past and its secrets. Reconstructive pottery has no theoretical framework, nor does it aspire to solve the world’s problems. It is, in fact, a form of meditation, a way to contemplate the mysteries of the urban world around us.
Sam Jacob has been showing his work in this field in art galleries over the past few years and has been willing to share his secrets. Using fragments of artefacts of an unknown origin, clay, plaster and paint are used to reconstruct them to their original form, original in the sense that you make it up yourself.
Sam is principal of Sam Jacob Studio, professor of architecture at the University of Illinois at Chicago, director of Night School at the Architectural Association, and the editor of Strange Harvest. Sam’s relation with Rotterdam goes way back. In 2008 he was part of the regeneration of Hoogvliet as the designer of cultural centre de Heerlijkheid. “It’s not quite Psychedelic Brutalism, but it’s aspiring to be something like that,” says Sam Jacob about his work there.
During the Reconstrutive Pottery workshop, Sam talked about the importance of the physical act, the improvisation, the impulsive gesture of getting the clay and reconstructing something. As Michelangelo saw the finished work in his marble block, the participants see in the ceramic fragments an opportunity: the opportunity to create something that does not exist, that perhaps will exist, has already existed or that exists elsewhere.
Thanks to Sam and all the participants for their great work, which resulted in the ‘Peculiar Museum of Speculative Artifacts!’
25-29 NOV 2019 Research by Photography Studio
The landscapes and signs of Rotterdam's fossil economy were the subject of a week-long studio. With this course we wanted to make something that is invisible from the official imagery of the city visible again. We wanted to confront the city with its own reality, perhaps with its own impending demise, in order to force a debate. Guided by photographer Ruben Dario Kleimeer and Crimson Historians and Urbanists, the participants have documented and visualized the landscape of fossil energy and economy in the Rotterdam area. The main result of the studio was presented on 7 panels, each showing the work of one of the participants. Seen together, they present a honest portrait of a side of our western European economy that, even if it is being obscured from view, still dominates the way we live and breathe.
21-31 OCT 2019 studio with Powerhouse Company and RED
In this two-week studio, organized in collaboration with Powerhouse Company, we critically explored and uncovered the role of capital in the way our cities and buildings are being shaped. We looked 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 did this 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 focused 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.
05-08 OCT 2019 Film & Architecture Studio with AFFR
The first Film & Architecture Studio 'A City of Thousand Steps' offered a comprehensive way to use cinematic language in architecture and urban design. From research, scriptwriting and storyboarding, to filming and post production. The course focuses on learning and understanding the narrative of filmmaking and its application in the design process, a hands-on studio in which participants learned to structure stories and went through all stages of filmmaking. The studio was a condensed course that offers new ways of researching the built environment and turning this research into well-structured and gripping stories. It is a class where participants with various background were introduced to essential elements of filmmaking and learn how to relate these to architecture and the city. You can see some of the video that were produced during the Studio here
24 JUN - 05 JUL 2019 Summer School
The aim of the Summer School was to get a broad understanding of climate change in the US and Europe. To get a sense of how this radically changes the living conditions – the habitat- on the planet and in particular in landscapes affected by fire, floods, erosion, earthquakes and heat, 9 global test sites were confronted with extreme conditions, proposing new coexistence between landscape and architecture. After three weeks of research in the Fisher Centre NY, students from Syracuse School of Architecture came to Rotterdam from 24 June until 5 July 2019, to design and develop new proposals for habitats, and housing in particular, that can handle these extreme conditions. The outcome of the Summer School was presented trough an exhibition in down-town New York City, presenting a global perspective on research and design that challenges the possibilities of our human living condition. An immersive installation that depicts a new world map with adapted geographies, hybrid typologies and Anthropocene ecologies that together represent the “Village of Global Warming."
18—25 MAR 2019 Spring School
In our 2019 Spring School we looked at the visible and invisible borders in an urban area that straddles the cities of Rotterdam and Schiedam: Oud/Nieuw Mathenesse. The area has two sharply divided zones: the first is a mid-century housing neighbourhood that has for decades been the destination of migrant workers and other immigrants to find homes, start businesses and families and gradually integrate into the Dutch economy and society. The second is a former harbour area which is going to be redeveloped into innovative and creative urban area. After extensive field research into the area, the participants developed strategies to connect both areas to each other and to achieve a more complete and more integrated migration-driven urbanism. To make a city that keeps different globalised economies and communities together, maximising their mutual benefits and the benefits to the local communities and economy. The results of the spring school were presented to a larger audience trough a spectacular exhibition, made by the participants themselves.