independent school for the city

Summer School: Against the Smooth City

A one-week Summer School researching contemporary urban smoothness together with René Boer and Mark Minkjan of Failed Architecture, taking place from 03 - 07 August 2020.

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. The demand for safe, clean and well-functioning urban environments is understandable, but what does the consolidation of the ‘smooth city’ mean for the conflictive, non-normative and subversive side of the 21st century polis? Does the ‘smooth city’ threaten the vitality of the public domain, and even the democratic character of our cities? This was explored during the summer school Against the Smooth City, which took place from 3 to 7 August 2020.

For this one-week studio we teamed up with René Boer and Mark Minkjan of Failed Architecture, who guided the participants in a critical engagement with contemporary urban smoothness. After collectively developing a nuanced understanding of the smooth dimensions of central Rotterdam, participants started working in small groups on strategies and design interventions which focused on developing a critical response to the ‘smoothness’ of a certain place, and the potential qualities of ‘unsmooth’ spaces.


Participants: Andrea Elera, Erinn De Waele, Flo Hettenbach, Flore Lenaerts, Ilya Lindhout, Lily Higgins, Lisa Eisen, Marijke Vermander, Martina Zimpel, Nera Jelaska, Noortje Weenink, Sascha Herfkens, Sophie Czich, Tanja Potezica, Tiemen Visser.

Tutors: Rene Boer, Mark Minkjan, Mike Emmerik, Michelle Provoost and Wouter Vanstiphout. With Lectures by Anastasia Kubrak, Colin Keays and Pablo Sendra