independent school for the city

Right to the city

Workshop with Loom: practice for cultural transformation, exploring to what extent city dwellers can contribute to shaping their urban surroundings in this day and age. Taking place from 15 April – 03 May 2024.

Looking after the City

In this three-week workshop with Loom: practice for cultural transformation, we explored the ways in which city dwellers can contribute to shaping their urban surroundings in this day and age, by means of self-organisation, collaborative practices, and unexpected alliances.

In the 'smooth city', the polished, optimised and neatly finished city that is becoming increasingly dominant worldwide, there would hardly be any time and space for urban improvisation and forms of mutual care, but is this really the case? In these times of political polarization and ongoing precariousness, there are in fact many initiatives that contribute to a city of shared responsibilities, mutual care and spatial justice. 

In this workshop we will collectively unravel and bring together examples of initiatives and collaborative practices that foster fabrics of responsibility. From in-between spaces that can still be activated, to the possibilities that arise in places that are often strictly ordered and controlled. What can we learn from existing practices and their modes of organisation, sharing of roles and responsibilities, their forms of maintenance, improvisation, and negotiation with other urban actors? Together with active city dwellers from Rotterdam, as well as guest lecturers and practitioners, we will approach these practices through four thematic lenses: Improvising, Queering, Gardening, and Commoning for the city.

Participants will be invited to research, document and create new "Looking After The City" tactics and modes of collective action for a particular place or area. From spontaneous improvisation, to queering urban space, inventing new forms of commoning or by enforcing alternative urban practices. The workshop also explores how the use of urban space for one person might clash with the needs for another, and how the idea of “the right to the city” might be transformed from an individual right to a collective responsibility and forms of urban care. How do we continue to look after the city and its (more-than-human) dwellers?

The first week will focus on engaging with and documenting existing initiatives; the second week will focus on what we can learn from these practices, and how they contribute to a city of shared responsibilities, while also making a link with (inter)national initiatives; the final week will involve the making of a short documentary, weaving together learnings as well as new proposals and suggestions for (to be) involved urban actors.

This block is part of our 12 week programme This is Tomorrow. 

Preliminary Programme


Monday April 15: Introduction by Katía Truijen and Mark Minkjan, lecture, excursion in Rotterdam West and discussing initiatives, as well as research and documentation strategies.

Tuesday April 16: Participants visit and start researching one of the initiatives/practices.

Wednesday April 17: Research by participants, documenting practices through one of the thematic lenses, and check-in in the afternoon at Independent School with Mark and Katía

Thursday April 18: Research and documentation by participants, lecture Commoning the City 

Friday April 19: Participants bring their documentation and findings together, and present their work at the end of the day. 


Monday April 22: Introduction to the second part of the workshop, lecture on Queering the City.

Tuesday April 23: Formulating findings, tactics and new proposals based on documentation of the existing initiatives of week 1. 

Wednesday April 24: Present the documentation, findings and proposals to each other, room for feedback, and discussing ways of bringing the material together. 

Thursday April 25: Working on a collective scenario for the short documentary. 

Friday April 26: Finalising and presenting a scenario for the short documentary. Visiting critics Michiel van Iersel, Radna Rumping and/or René Boer (Loom). 


Monday April 29 – Friday May 3: bringing together documentation, findings and new proposals into one collective short documentary, with a public screening on Friday May 3rd.

About Loom - practice for cultural transformation.

Loom is a practice for cultural transformation. Powered by dialogue and imagination, Loom provides reflections, propositions, rehearsals, and real-world alternatives that bring people together around urgent issues. Building on years of experience and a wide-ranging expertise, Loom creates unexpected ties between independent initiatives and institutions, weaving together people and practices with roots in different worlds. Loom facilitates conversations, conducts research, curates exhibitions and public programmes, publishes books, consults organisations and develops shared learning experiences. Loom is grounded in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, and links with an international network in the arts, culture, design, public policy, media and heritage, bringing together local situations and global issues. Loom is Katía Truijen, Mark Minkjan, Michiel van Iersel, Radna Rumping and René Boer working in close collaboration with an evolving ecosystem of talented and established practitioners. This workshop will be led by urban geographer, architecture critic and editor Mark Minkjan, and media researcher, curator and educator Katía Truijen.