Since the start of the Independent School for the City in October 2018, we have organized a whole range of shorter and longer programmes. Here you find an overview of our previous courses, their results, testimonials and photographic reports of the events.
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.