On the 24th of September we organized the first School Out! after the summer break. For this edition we invited the architect, urban planner, and researcher Jan Willem Petersen, who talked about his work in Afghanistan. He talked about the role of the architect in reconstruction projects and also reflected on his work based on the current developments in the country. Jan Willem traveled multiple times to this country between 2013 and 2016, where he scrutinized the international reconstruction efforts disguised as a local Afghan, aiming to gain a better understanding on the legacy of the schools, roads, mosques, clinics, government buildings, factories, markets, police stations, prisons and airports initiated by the Netherlands and how the interventions relate to the unruly Afghan reality. This resulted in the report ‘Uruzgan's Legacy: An exploration of the Dutch reconstruction results’ which he presented to the Dutch Chief of Defence, General Tom Middendorp. The document contains a detailed description of the results of the reconstruction projects undertaken by Task Force Uruzgan within the framework of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan in the period 2006-2010. The conclusions from the report – including the need to develop new spatial expertise in the field of reconstruction and reconstruction – have been endorsed by the Ministry of Defense and formed the basis for a long-term cooperation. After his lecture a short movie was screened, handpicked by AFFR curator Jord den Hollander.
About Jan Willem Petersen
Jan Willem Petersen studied Architecture Design at the Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam, and architecture and planning at the Architectural Association (AA) in London. In 2006 he founded the amsterdam-based office ‘Specialist Operations’ - an independent research and design office that supports governments, international organizations, and local communities by providing spatial analysis, strategic planning, in-depth urban research, and design. Jan Willen is a lecturer at the Royal Military Academy where he teaches the new generation of officers about design thinking. The Ministry of Defence thus endorses the importance of design as an integral part of the academic curriculum of up-and-coming engineers. Jan Willem Petersen has taught at sevevariousral universities and schools in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. He is currently also a PHD candidate at Delft University of Technology where he works on the formulation of a manual on the basic principles of reconstruction in conflict areas for the Ministry of Defence. His research projects were made possible by the Dutch Armed Forces and the Creative Industries Fund NL.