Amsterdam Academy of Architecture – Academie van Bouwkunst
Guest Teacher (together with Sander Lap)
P5 – Research / Design Course
Master of Architecture, Landscape, and Urban Design
Amsterdam, the Netherlands
September 1 – December 15, 2010
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This book is the result of 16 weeks of research & design work.
The group sessions were approached on a think-tank basis, where the time was invested in critical discussion and debate. From the start we avoided ending up in the most predictable and common clichés of the moment, such as green sustainability or the acceptance of public space as THE always-valid-solution, and we dared to test radical models that could enhance the Rotte and bring unexpected qualities based on more transgressive approaches.
Projects were seen as argument-based experiments.
The argumentation, the working process, the conceptual thinking, the will to learn something new rather than improving what can be done already, the ability to communicate, the capacity to build a sequence of narration, …, to result in a strong, consistent and credible design proposal were the key factors in the process.
The river Rotte will be the laboratory to create research-based proposals.
Unconventional and experimental forms of programme and planning will create a new, interesting and captivating landscape for the Rotte.
As is characteristic of an experiment, as long as the process is carried out impeccably, failure is a valid result.
**The project was presented at the ds+V in January
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Rotterdam is working hard to build a great skyline, aligning itself with major cities such as Frankfurt, London, Warsaw, or Moscow…. but the average income of its inhabitants is far below other big Dutch cities, there are safety issues, and too many people are jobless and left at the fringes of society. The city is suffering among investors from a bad reputation and is therefore missing out on attracting new businesses.
Rotterdam needs to employ energy and intelligence towards activating large amounts of open spaces and the resolving of disarticulated sequences of programme and questionable public spaces.
Rotterdam always had a daring attitude towards urban planning and architecture. Let’s pick up this attitude and generate exciting proposals that avoid the conventional and predictable examples of current planning and design.
The River Rotte:
The river Rotte was the origin of the city of Rotterdam. The Rotte rises in the traditional agricultural landscape around Moerkapelle and ends around the skyscrapers of Rotterdam’s city centre, crossing very diverse landscapes and experiencing different programmes and densities. It is a cross section of the entire city in all its aspects. Unfortunately, Rotterdam does not have an economic relationship with the Rotte any longer. The river has become marginalized and repressed by the city, which has turned its back on it. This needs to change if Rotterdam wants to improve the situation. The Rotte has the potential to inject life into the core of Rotterdam as well as to become an aorta that brings nature into the city. However, the River Rotte will not be a link between city and nature; it will become a new city landscape in itself.
To go beyond the prescribed bounds or limits..
This will be done by committing a series of acts of spatial transgression, of stepping over established territorial bounds. This transgression has a spatial dimension, in which the boundaries between functions, objects, or people are challenged, tested, or momentarily broken.
We will understand landscape as the result of the action and interaction of natural and/or human factors, as the result of living. Landscape is a social concept, as well as a political concept.
Landscape is not nature, not an area, not a view, but rather the things that people, groups, and institutions do in a particular place over time. And it is everywhere. Landscapes, therefore, cannot be designed in the same way, using the same methods, as objects are designed. One can design a park, one can design a garden, but one cannot design a landscape.