MAGAZINE BY POLIS | PLATFORM FOR URBANISM
#22.4 February 2012 RenĂŠ van der Velde 04 Jaap van den Bout 07 DIMI 10 Daniel Jauslin 14 Dirk Sijmons 18 Berrie van Elderen 20
Intro by Jorick Beijer 22 Plein06 24 Edward Soja 26
Alexander Wandl 32 Hans de Jonge 35 Jason King 38 Matthew Cusick 40 Mitesh Dixit 42 Jonghyun Choi 47 Geoff Manaugh 52 Matthew Skjonsberg 55 Maurits de Hoog 60
Editorial There is no doubt about the recent uprise of landscape design and planning. Offices pop up everywhere ‘doing’ architecture, urbanism ánd landscape and even the architecture faculty of the TU Delft has recently started a new mastertrack “Landscape Architecture”. However, each of us seems to define “landscape” differently, having different images in mind. As a result everybody holds his own understanding about the “urban” in relation to the “landscape”, which I think has a profound impact on our daily environment. For example, Charles Waldheim, an influential landscape architect, is a proponent of what he calls “Landscape Urbanism”. This global movement sees landscape architecture rather than architecture and urban design as the design medium more capable of organizing the city and enhancing the urban experience. Waldheim notes that, "there is a decentralisation to horizontality and it is very difficult to structure urbanism out of buildings." The critic Charles Birnbaum adds: “Landscape architects are increasingly leaders of systemsbased urban planning; and, architects feeling threatened/seeing opportunities are trying to grab that market share”. There is however critique on the uprise of landscape design and planning. Emily Talen argues that the biggest problem is that the profession completely leaves out human beings. Also in the Netherlands, Midas Dekkers criticises the grandscale ‘gardening-boom’: “If you see what architects make out of dwellings, you would become frightened by hearing the name ’landscape architect’. They turn mountains into valleys and valleys into mountains. Land
becomes water, water becomes land. Houses make way for ports and ports make way for houses. What was meant to be a creative process, turns out to be nothing more than the reshuffling of land and land use.” Especially in the Netherlands it seems our philosophy that the job of the landscape architect is to reshape nature in order to conform landscape to a human ideal. Or, adversely, we try to leave “nature” in its raw state, untouched and unusable by urban society, like at the Oostvaardersplassen. Both approaches sometimes lead to undesired results. This final issue of Atlantis Volume 22 will explore this area of tension by asking a variety of practitioners, scholars and students what according to them “landscape” means in relation to the contemporary city.
rates on the difference between Western and Asian notions of the landscape and how that is related to the urbanisation processes. Geoff Manaugh is asked about his seminal blog BLDGBLG and his thoughts and speculations about landscape futures, while West8’s Matthew Skjonsberg reflects on the relationship between aesthetics and ethics. Finally, Maurits de Hoog reflects on the topics discussed in this Atlantis issue. Along these lines, we have intermezzos with Hans de Jonge, OMA’s Mitesh Dixit, inspiring art by New York based illustrator Matthew Cusick and TU Delft urbanism and landscape student projects. Our Atlantis volume 22 mission has been to contribute to the challenge of the urbanist to synthesize worldviews, ideas and theories by exposing different and sometimes opposing perspectives on urbanism. We have explored the large field of urbanism within four issues and it is up to the reader to deduct his or hers own narrative from this. I would like to thank all the contributors, since it is has been their work that provided the building blocks for this narrative. I am also very grateful for the work, quality and passion that the editors Jan Breukelman, Edwin Hans and Jan Wilbers, designer Rik Speel and many guest-editors have put in Atlantis. It was a joy working with you! Much thanks goes to the Polis board for letting us follow our fascinations freely and I wish the new Atlantis committee good luck and fun in publishing about urbanism, our great field of work!
René van der Velde will open this Atlantis issue by explaining the seemingly dichotomous and ambiguous terms “urban” and “landscape”, followed up by an interview with Jaap van den Bout about the way he relates that dichotomy to practice. Daniel Jauslin continues with writing about the paradox of sustainability and aesthetics and Atlantis talked with four professors about mobility in relationship to the landscape. Berrie van Elderen reviews the latest colossal Metropolitan Landscape Architecture book while Plein06 and ‘regionalist’ Edward Soja round off the Urbanism Week by reflecting on the role of the urbanist. Alexander Wandl takes us to the European ‘Shadowlands’ and the influential blogger Jason King further clears up the debate by defining terms like urbanism, landscape or land space. Korean landscape Professor Jonghyun Choi elabo-
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ATLANTIS VOLUME 22: 1
From the board Dear Polis members,
In front of you lies the brand new edition of the Atlantis magazine: #22.4 Urban Landscape. A year has passed since we started as Polis board 2011. Just one year ago we decided to take up the challenge and join the Polis board with the five of us. Within no time Polis has assembled a strong team of committees, the basis for an eventful year. We organised lectures, exhibitions, a case study, excursions in the Netherlands as well as abroad, education evaluations, midterm and final presentation drinks and parties, published four fantastic Atlantis magazines and last but not least: we re-introduced the Urbanism Week.
This year’s activities could not be carried out without our fantastic active members. The last twelve months seven fully enthusiastic committees set up some tremendous events together. The board would like to thank all people involved in these great achievements!
The year flew by and looking back we can be very proud of our achievements. Together with the committees we have brought Polis again one step further as the platform for urbanism. Of course we did not do this all by ourselves. First we would like to thank all the enthusiastic people from the Polis Committees for their efforts and the positive spirit they have put in Polis. Without them we could never have achieved what we did this year. Besides we would also like to thank the Urbanism department for all their support, especially during the Urbanism Week. And of course Polis could not have done all this without the support of our sponsors and in particular our partner Grontmij. Last but not least we would like to thank all our student, alumni and professional members for keeping Polis a lively study association.
Urbanism Week This committee was responsible for setting up the exciting Urbanism Week 2011. We are already looking forward to the next Urbanism Week of 2012! Arie Stobbe, Karien Hofhuis, Vera Konings, Tim Ruijs, Noor Scheltema and Jorick Beijer
We are very happy to have found six enthusiastic people that will take over Polis. We proudly introduce you to the new Polis board of 2012: Karlijn Kokhuis - President Hans Smit - Secretary & Association Relations Victor van Elburg - Treasurer Manuel Félix Cárdenas - Company Relations Aleksandrs Feltins - Atlantis Djawid Tahery - Events With their ambitions and drive, 2012 promises to become a fantastic year for Polis again. We wish the new board the best of luck for the coming year and make sure to enjoy! On behalf of Polis board 2011, Jorick Beijer, Karien Hofhuis, Vera Konings, Tim Ruijs & Noor Scheltema
Education This new committee organizes evaluation meetings for master students of Urbanism. Especially in these times of cutting down budgets, our education is under great pressure and therefore we should remain sharp and critical. Jenny Nauta & Noor Scheltema
Big Excursion After the great success of the big trip to Vienna the committee with Maike Warmerdam, Alicia Schoo and Liselotte van der A, unfortunately stopped. A new team of five people took over the lead in organizing inspiring excursions to Antwerp, Amsterdam, Zaandam, Maastricht and Liege! We would like to thank them all for their efforts: Hannah Cremers, Gijs Briet, Andre Kroese, Feddy Garofalo & Wieke Villerius Lectures After some very nice lectures about digital urbanism, this committee is looking for new enthusiasts! Let us know if you want to join them and organize more interesting lectures! Remmelt Oosterhuis, Sylke Koumans andThomas Paul Borrel After a midterm or final presentation, before the holidays or afterward; this committee proved it is always time for a ‘gezellige’ borrel and/or urban dinner. Thanks all! Maaike Zwart, Nazanin Hemmati, Ani Skachokova and Laurens de Lange Atlantis Last but not least we would like to thank all members of the Atlantis committee for publishing four outstanding Atlantis magazines in total. Polis can be very proud of its Atlantis magazine! Greatly thanks for your splendid efforts! Jan Breukelman, Edwin Hans, Jasper Nijveldt and Jan Wilbers. Are you interested in joining one of the committees? Please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org
Introduction Urban Landscape
For someone unfamiliar with contemporary discourses within the building sciences, the theme of this Atlantis issue would appear to be something of an oxymoron. The term ‘urban’ surely infers the spatial, organizational, political, social and cultural characteristics of city, a very different notion than the rural or natural environments inferred to by the term ‘landscape’. This paradox is not necessarily restricted to outsiders: within the faculties of the building sciences ‘urban’ and ‘landscape’ are separate and distinct disciplinary traditions. Both fields of enquiry arise from – and are connected to – independent arenas of theory and praxis. The traditional pursuits of these two fields however – the understanding, ordering and design of cities and landscapes are becoming more and more urgent as time goes on and as such, their legitimacy as independent disciplines is unquestioned. The linguistic union of the two terms therefore, has nothing to do with disciplinary deterioration which commonly herald these kinds of mutations, and everything to do with the pursuit of knowledge and tools to understand and act in the increasing elusive contemporary city – of which more later. Firstly, a little etymology and history.
Figure 1. High-line Park, New York. Photo: James Corner Field Operations.
René van der Velde MLA, Assoc. Professor. Landscape Architecture
The paradox in the term ‘urban landscape’ is linguistically speaking, less strange than it at first seems. To begin with, there are important etymological links between landscape terms such as garden and urban terms such as town. The words garden, yard, garten, jardin, giardino, hortus, tun, tuin, and town, all pertain to spatial enclosure of outdoor space. Landscape – a term related to garden and originating from the appreciation of created or cultivated land – also has related connotations of inclusion and entity. More importantly, the appreciation of landscape and its depiction as outdoor space is an invention of the city; the perception and depiction of land as landscape first appeared in the artistic milieu of urban society during the Renaissance [Lemaire, 1970]. It is no coincidence therefore, that this very same urban society was responsible for the first landscape architectural creations in the villas urbana around Rome and Florence in the same period [Reh, Steenbergen, 2003]. The term ‘urban’ and ‘landscape’ can thus be argued to be inter-dependent, or perhaps more extremely put: without the city there would be no landscape. In the same way one can claim that without landscape there
would be no city. The topographic and productive characteristics of land(scapes) have historically determined where cities arise – as well as having an effect on their form, size, shape and wealth. They also determine for a large part the character of the city itself through the configuration and character of its public open spaces, the figure ground of the city and even the way the city develops and changes. These modes of landscape within the urban realm are another important reason behind the development of the term urban landscape as an independent arena of praxis and enquiry. They also happen to form a useful trinity of sub-themes within the field, which roughly span the theoretical and practical breadth of the theme: landscape within the city, landscape beneath the city, and the city as landscape. The sub-theme landscapes within the city focuses on urban public space – exploring the spatial and social problematique of the physical network of public (open) space in contemporary cities. The addition of landscape (and landscape architecture) to the problematique reflects the increasing complexity and crisis developing in public space and the public domain. The ‘decline’ of urban space in general and its widely accepted causal ‘isms’ - individualism, capitalism, neo-liberalism – are demanding an increasingly sophisticated arsenal of tools to understand, order and operate with. In theoretical and philosophical discourse, the public domain – and its physical counterpoint public space – has always been understood as an urban problem, but new insights from the perspective of landscape have proven – at least from a theoretical point of view – extremely fertile [Corner, 1999]. Landscape has a lot to offer public space and the public domain: a ‘grounding’ of urban communities in a physical and historical landscape context, visual and spatial multiplicity within the architectonic confines of the city, infrastructures for social and cultural interaction and the emotive and experiential qualities of nature within an urban environment. The remarkable success of High-line Park in New York also demonstrates the value of ‘landscape’ to the public space discourse in praxis. In this (and other) projects, landscape has also proven itself as a factor in the successful regeneration of urban neighborhoods. A second sub-theme – the urban landscape beneath the city – covers a much broader field of exploration: that of the role of a previous or underlying landscape in (re)defining the spatial fabric of cities. Growing criticism of the tabula rasa thinking of modernism in the second half of the 20th century lead to the search for a new repertoire to understand and give form to cities. Already in the 1960’s, Vittorio Gregotti argued for an ‘anthropo-geographic approach’ to urbanism, a return to the topography and ecology of a region to inform the urban fabric [Gregotti, 1981]. Studies in the Netherlands such as Frits Palmboom’s analysis of Rotterdam as urbanized landscape prompted a return to landscape context and underlying landscape characteristics such as topography, geomorphology, drainage patterns, vegetation types and historical settlement forms in the layout of new urban areas here. This was not necessarily new -there are important historical precedents of this. The proposal to develop Boston around a necklace of parks along the Charles River at the end of the 19th century is one of the first - and most extensive - examples of an ‘urban landscape’ project. The exploration of the evolving relationship between city and landscape and the role of the landscape beneath the city, is explored
Figure 2. Regional Development Model, Groningen Meerstad, Bureau Hosper.
in a new publication Metropolitan Landscape Architecture by Clemens Steenbergen en Wouter Reh (reviewed in this issue by Berrie van Elderen). The rediscovery of the relationship between geomorphological and cultural landscape layers and ensuing urban patterns in premodern cities became the leitmotif for a discipline in search of a new beginning. This approach was also posited on the notion of process and continuity in city form - urbanization as a stage in the perennial transformation of landscape. The advantage of landscape beneath the city has also increased since its introduction as framework for spatial planning on a regional scale. Landscape in countries such as the Netherlands is increasingly identified as the primary ingredient of spatial planning ideologies such as longue durée: the establishment of a permanent spatial framework for all manner of dynamic processes, including urbanization. Schemes in this genre have been pioneered by Bureau Hosper and include Meerstad in Groningen (2005) and the Wieringerrandmeer in North Holland (2005). Curbs in public spending and the decentralization of spatial policy poses a serious threat to strategies such as longue durée but these - and the financial, climate, energy and food crisis - can also be argued as reasons to step up the use of longue durée landscape; it may be all we have left. Undoubtedly though, the most pregnant – and contested – interpretation of the term ‘urban landscape’ is the notion of city as landscape. At the start the 21st century, the legitimacy of the notion that city and landscape have become one - at least in geographical terms – has become indisputable. Since the middle of the last century an increasing number of researchers have been involved in charting and analyzing this transition; each research conference and publication seems to come up with a new term to describe the phenomenon. While the idea of the city may still conjure up images of a coherent ensemble of built forms, spaces and programs, the city is clearly becoming progressively less and less an architectonic artifact and more and more a patchwork of urban fragments interwoven with - and infused by – landscape [Colenbrander, 1999]. This process is not new. As early as the early 19th century, the compact and orderly urban tissue of the city fell prey to forces of growth and change, which progressively eroded its architectonic cohesiveness and loosened up its characteristic homogeneity. Landscape crept as it were, into the cracks in this ever-expanding organ. Developments in the same period point to a parallel process of the 5
Figure 3. Borneo Sporenburg development, Amsterdam. Photo: René de Wit.
dissolving of the ideals and values associated with the classical city form. The former clarity and definition of the collective order of the city has given way to a loose-knit aggregation of urban territories in which the distinction– and relationship - between public and private has become anything but clear. Responses to this condition took form in the garden city movement and later schemes such as Corbusier’s broad-acre city. Subsequent approaches to understanding and giving form to the city as landscape appeared in theoretical and experimental projects in the work of Archigram and Reyner Banham’s pioneering study of Los Angeles, The Architecture of four Ecologies. Towards the end of the last century these theoretical forays also took root in ‘real’ projects such as Chasse terrain by OMA, Borneo Sporenburg by West 8 and Muller pier by KCAP. Pioneering (but as yet unverified) ‘taxonomies’ of the concepts used (grid, casco, clearing and montage) position them squarely within the landscape idiom [Smets, 2002]. The rapidly changing position of landscape in the discourse on the contemporary city gained further academic (and international) momentum with the introduction of the term Landscape Urbanism in 2006. In this ‘manifesto’, landscape supplants architecture as the essential organizing element for the contemporary (horizontal) city. Landscape is also seen as the tool to comprehend and order urban development because they had come to resemble each other as system and process: the city now changes, transforms and evolves as a landscape [Shannon, 2006]. As a medium, landscape is purported to be capable of responding to transformation, adaptation and succession, making it more analogous to contemporary urbanization and better suited to the open-endedness, indeterminacy and change of future cities [Waldheim, 2006]. The modern urban condition is defined by indeterminacy and change: the city is in a state of flux, always on its way to becoming something else. The processes of urbanization can be seen as a kind of human ecology: a complex that includes language and technology, and that produced and continues to produce spatial organization as an emergent order [Sijmons, 2009]. Whether it be the growth and seasonal dynamics of living material or the more abstract processes of temporality, transformation, and 6
adaptation, landscape - and landscape ecology - are championed as tools to understand, order and act with. Instead of concentrating on formal objects, dynamic relationships and agencies become the subject of study and design [vd Velde, 2003]. The relationship between landscape and city, between landscape architecture and urbanism, and between landscape and urban ideologies is undoubtedly deepening. Contemporary academic discourse is either pushing for a merger of urban and landscape disciplines, or calling for further disciplinary specialization. The re-emergence of landscape comes because of its potential to embrace urbanism, infrastructure, strategic planning and speculative ideas, a quality, however, that is by definition rich and diverse, arising from a range of sometimes-conflicting perspectives. At the same time many new directions are simply reformulations of perennial concerns of the both disciplines. The oxymoron created by the terms ‘urban’ and ‘landscape’ is justifiable and irrevocable, but we should tread carefully before we go mixing the symptoms with the cure. 1. Ton Lemaire, Philosophy of Landscape (Amsterdam:Ambo publishers, 1970) 2. Wouter Reh & Clemens Steenbergen, Architecture and landscape - The design experiment of the Great European Gardens and Landscape (Basel, Berlin, Boston: Birkhaüser, 2003) 3. James Corner, Recovering Landscape: Essays in Contemporary Landscape Architecture (Princeton: 1999) 4. Vittorio Gregotti, ‘La forme du territoire’, in l’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui no. 218 (1981) 5. Bernard Colenbrander, De verstrooide stad (NAi Uitgevers: Rotterdam, 1999) 6. Marcel Smets, ‘ grid, casco, clearing, montage’ in About Landscape Edition Topos (Basel, Berlin, Boston: Birkhaüser, 2002) 7. Kelly Shannon, ‘From Theory to Resistance: Landscape Urbanism in Europe’, in The Landscape Urbanism Reader (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2006) 8. Charles Waldheim, ‘Landscape as Urbanism’, in The Landscape Urbanism Reader (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2006) 9. Dirk Sijmons, The City and the World, Inaugural address, TU-Delft 09 december 2009 10. René van der Velde, ‘Landscape Urbanism in the dutch deaign tradition’, in 4th International Seminar on Urbanism and Urbanization (ISUU), TU Deft, Holland (09/2007), pp 154-162.
Urban Landscapes Interview with Jaap van den Bout
What exactly are urban landscapes? We went to the office of Palmbout Urban Landscapes to
After his graduation in Architecture at
talk with co-founder Jaap van den Bout about his vision on urbanism and landscape. Famous
the TU Delft, Jaap van den Bout worked
for its urbanised landscape theory and its birds-eye hand drawings evolved out of the appli-
from 1981 to 1994 at the Department
cation of that theory into practise, the office has established itself as one of the leading
of Urban Development of Rotterdam.
urban design offices in the Netherlands in two decades time. Apart from asking about the
After leaving that department in 1994 he
office’s specific landscape approach we asked Jaap van den Bout to reflect on the education
founded Palmbout Urban Landscapes
at Delft University, where he studied and later fulfilled a visiting lectureship.
together with Frits Palmboom. He has been active in education at several univer-
Palmbout Urban Landscapes. What do you mean by the term urban landscapes?
sities and academies and fulfilled a visiting lectureship at the TU starting in 2000.
‘The term urban landscapes is derived from our central conception that landscape and urban are not opposite notions but rather symbiotic. In the period of urban renewal we developed a methodology to define the foundation of the landscape. By analysing the underlying landscape layers of a city we were able to define the main thread in the city’s storyline. Frits Palmboom has applied this methodology to the situation of Rotterdam in his book “Rotterdam als verstedelijkt landschap” (Rotterdam as urbanized landscape). In his book Palmboom explains how the underlying pattern of the delta in combination with cultural activity shaped an urban landscape which directly influenced the current layout of the city. The renewed layer has to deal with the existing morphology. Just as with a monumental building: as a designer you need to be aware of this legacy and do something with it. You have to be aware that your new design will form a relationship with the quality of the existing. In that sense, our methodology rebelled against the then reigning clear-cut planning and tabula rasa design. So for us the notion of urban landscapes is very much about the viewpoint you adopt during the design process. Therefore it is applicable to an inner city project as well; there is landscape within the city. Take for instance Kop van Zuid. In Rotterdam, the harbour basins guided the layout of the city to a great extent, an aspect we wanted to emphasize even more than had been proposed in the master plan of Koolhaas. The deep insertion of the harbour basins is a specific aesthetic quality of the urban landscape. It is an existing landscape feature which you can re-use in the urban landscape. Although that may sound logical, damping of the basins was an option and has been proposed. In my opinion this would be a waste of poetry, history and spatial quality.’
It almost sounds like a durable mantra: reuse the landscape you encounter ‘You could see it as such, but I refrain from using the trendy term sustainability, or durability for that matter. Re-using the landscape is the way we approach design assignments, other offices have
“It would be better if urban designs link up to natural processes. Not for nothing landscape bureaus increasingly are asked for urban interventions.” their own concepts. In our design we focus on the long term layers of the urban morphology, so in a sense our attitude towards the urban landscape has durable aspects. Then you have to find out what you can do with the existing landscape, no matter the density you are going to build. For the last couple of years our work focused on suburban residential landscapes. Within the VINEX neighbourhoods you encounter here, multiple design approaches are possible. One of them is reproducing some kind of historical Dutch city, an example being Brandevoort. Another approach is finding a new type of urban quality. We wanted to look for suburban quality: we wanted to design something in the periphery where people will want to live because it is a suburban area. Nesselande is an interesting example. There we tried to create a residential landscape inspired by the Reeuwijkse plassen. Apart from a couple of strategic orientation points which were developed as architectonic highlights, inhabitants were allowed to create
their dwellings in private entrepreneurship. We stated that the landscape design was stronger than the architecture of the individual dwellings.1 During the process of realization the ratio between programme and landscape grew off balance due to the fact that inhabitants began building larger dwellings than foreseen in the building regulations. In that sense, the omnipotence of the urbanist is very limited. Today the pressure of the built environment on the landscape is quite high. I still believe that the landscape of water and gardens will win after a couple of years.’
Recently the book ‘Landschappelijk wonen’ (Living Landscapes) was published in which Palmbout together with Faro architects and H+N+S Landscape architects researched the relationship between residential programme and the landscape. What motivated this research? ‘The initiative came from Faro architects.
They often got the assignment to “do something with living landscapes”, based on desires that often did not meet reality. In such cases the general problem seemed to be that programme, location and the ambition of the commissioner to realize a certain atmosphere could not be united. Thus, our wish was to come up with a book in which living landscape projects are analysed both in imagery and figures. To come up with a Neufert for living landscapes so to speak, hoping to bring desire and reality closer together. Moreover, the interest of H+N+S and ours in living landscapes as a societal phenomenon and reaction to the earlier mentioned approaches to VINEX housing could be very well integrated into the research. We went looking for suburban quality, for a way of living in which the separation between landscape and building plot fades. The danger of uncontrolled development of living landscapes lies in unrestrained urbanization. So, we tried to find an answer to this threat by asking ourselves: what can
1 In the Netherlands this type of private entrepreneurship is referred to as "welstandsvrij" meaning that the dwellings do not have to undergo an aesthetics test – an urban instrument to keep buildings within a neighbourhood ‘in line’ with each other without excessive architecture destroying the rhythm of the whole block.
Figure 1. Birds-eye drawing of the design for Buizengat, Vlaardingen
be a natural break for unrestrained urbanization sprawl? First of all, planning itself is a break. But apart from that we studied this question in some projects. A nice example of this is the investigation into new living environments for a project in the Eindhoven region. In the project a new occupation layer was added with a minimum of infrastructural interventions, thus facilitating no more than the infrastructure can handle. For that we came up with the term maximum load capacity, a very banal expression. Which is nice, because a lot of people stumbled upon the term, after which we were able to explain the idea more detailed. There is a natural break on the system if the central government decides not to invest in infrastructure. Besides that, the designer really needs to say something about the counterweight that remains open. If you don’t have a thorough interpretation and implementation of the landscape, then the odds of someone building there later on increase.‘
In line with this, it also seems that the borders between the disciplines architecture, urbanism and landscape architecture fade. Offices brand themselves as multi-disciplinary and design assignments ask for this multi-disciplinary approach as well. How does this relate to the works of Palmbout? ‘We are first and foremost urbanists, but we choose to incorporate knowledge of the landscape on how to shape public space. That is something different from an office like H+N+S which has fundamental knowledge about the hardware, understanding the structure of the landscape in terms of water systems, geomorphologic layers and so on. We need them as complement to our own work. Nowadays, the design of the landscape is very much integrated with urban design. This is very different from the situation in which I worked at the municipality of Rotterdam some thirty years ago, where landscape designers were brought in to draw and design public space that was already defined in the urban plan. So yes, the three disciplines are coming closer together.’
Starting in 2000 you have been involved in the education at Delft in the form of a visiting lectureship. Do you see changes in the way students approach, think about and deal with landscape?
Figure 2. Masterplan concept Belvedere, Maastricht
‘The improved integration of landscape into the design is one of the consequences of a changing education. The urban design education in Delft used to be much more planning oriented. It was not so much about designing urban form. In that period students were trained as urban planners rather than urban designers. In general, the urbanists from my generation are originally architects, because our education focused on residential neighbourhoods and the social aspects of architecture, under the guidance of Max Risselada and Henk Engel for instance. Within urbanism only a few people contested this planning rationale and started to analyse the place itself. Pjotr Gonggrijp was one such a phenomenon at the faculty, who drew incredibly beautiful maps depicting the evolution of the landscape. His landscape pattern analysis was an important source of inspiration to Palmboom. That which others denote as the redrawing of maps, the analysis of the landscape, is in part also based on his work.’
What according to you lacks in current education at Delft? ‘I am not really sure what the education consists of today but I think that the landscape design should be integrated more. By that I do not mean the discipline of landscape architecture, in which Delft has a rich tradition, but the knowledge obtained in Wageningen about the natural layers of the landscape. It would be better if urban designs link up to natural
processes. Not for nothing landscape bureaus increasingly are asked for urban interventions. There is a rich interface between the two disciplines and education should elaborate on that. Dirk Sijmons will be the new chairman of landscape architecture, I am curious to whether his H+N+S background will alter the education and if so in what way. It might be that he will further the integration of this hardware knowledge of the structure and functioning of the landscape.’
To conclude, what is the current task in the field of urbanism in the Netherlands? ‘There are no more large housing assignments. The design tasks which are still there are smaller in scale, such as restructuring or shrinkage, or large landscape themes such as the Delta. Even though shrinkage and vacancy of office buildings are interesting study themes, there is a lack of clients for these topics. Politics has turned inward and does not define commissions, governments are withdrawing and busy reorganizing. No societal issues are formulated by national government where design bureaus could be implemented. I think this is primarily a monetary question, after the reorganization process it might be that we can turn to real problems again. Yet this period also has its merits since the production line of the last twenty years has tailed off allowing us some time to reflect on our work again.’ Jan Breukelman & Esther Verhoek
MOBILITY AND THE LANDSCAPE OF THE FUTURE Interview with Maurits de Hoog, Han Meyer, Dirk Sijmons & Han Vrijling Delft Research Initiative for Mobility and Infrastructures (DIMI)
Infrastructure and mobility are the basis of our prosperity, and important drivers for our economy. Highways, airports, waterways and ports are among the largest programs in our cities and landscapes. Underground there is a maze of cables and pipes to make it all work. These programs are often seen as barriers. As our mobility increases, so does the pressure on landscapes in and around our cities. Therefore long term planning of infrastructures needs to be adaptable as society changes. Designers and engineers can play an important role in fitting in these infrastructures, combining effectiveness with new forms of ecology, leisure, and urbanisation. The Delft Initiative for Mobility and Infrastructures (DIMI) is one of four research groups at Delft University that brings together different departments dealing with these topics. In it they work together on complex assignments related to infrastructure and mobility, focusing on the integration of different systems. Atlantis spoke briefly with four professors linked to DIMI, to see how they view mobility and the landscape of the future.
existed for much longer; roads are extraordinary stable elements in the landscape. They only have been extremely broadened. One thing which is really a new element is the Betuwe line, where under the motto ‘ugly with ugly, dirty with dirt’, you can see this tendency to bundle different infrastructure lines and to see them as one thing, resulting in these fantastic cutting lines in the landscape (figure 1). These bundles are slowly becoming imposing worlds of their own. You could say that the urban highway is the least controlled part of our whole idiom as landscape architects and urban planners. We have never really succeeded to bring those things together in a logical manner.' 'I do think however that mobility will in the end more or less stabilize. Not just because of our demographic way down, but also because we will be forced to act smarter due to all sorts of changes, due to energy reductions and such. As an approximation I would say that we have seen the biggest influences of mass mobility Mobility is the basis for our prosperity. How is our increasing mobility affecting the differ- on the landscape in the twentieth century. Now that this age of fossil expressionism ent functions of the landscape today? is coming to an end, with smarter forms of mobility and information transport, we will see a slow stabilization.' Maurits de Hoog Professor. Regional Design, former chairman department of Urbanism)
'In part it's just destruction; port development, airport construction, land reclamations. We have completely rebuilt this delta and in many cases this has led to the destruction of natural qualities. Deltas are the best natural habitats, the most varied, Binnen het Delft sense. Research Initiativeurbanization Infrastructures and the most valuable in a biological By definition, of the&delta Mobility werken wetenschappers vanuit verschillende leads to destructiondisciplines of those qualities, it’soplossingen an enormousrond task infrastructuur, to be more prudent samen so aan ruimtelijke ordening, kustbescherming, mobiliteit, when dealing with this. logistiek en transport. That does not only mean fitting in program, but also ensuring that those qualities of the delta – the biological qualities as well – remain there, and that we can benefit from them. A good example is the fresh water supply. The dunes in the Netherlands are protected and not urbanized. They have become enormous parks because fresh water is being extracted there.'
Professor. in Probabilistic Design and Hydraulic Structures, Civil Engineering, chairman of DIMI
'That’s exactly the task we’re dealing with. We as civil engineers will say: ‘tell us how you want it. It can be underground, on the ground or high above the ground.’ And it’s partly up to urban designers to say how we eventually do it, and to ensure that it looks nice on both ends. So when you arrive in a city it should be pleasant there, and it should work; so you can park your car, or there’s easy access from the trains. To establish those concepts in the densely populated Netherlands, whilst maintaining an urban or natural landscape which is attractive, I think that’s the task at hand. And I’m very much in favor of combining these disciplines, otherwise things get thought up that are impossible, or very expensive, so it’s good to work together from an early stage on. Civil engineers make the solutions, but designers fit it into culture, where it becomes part of life.'
Dirk Sijmons Professor. Landscape Architecture
'What we’ve seen is that on first sight an enormous amount of infrastructure lines has been added. But if you look closer you’ll see that most of those roads have already
Figure 1 Infrastructure bundles cutting through the landscape
'A multidisciplinary approach is essential to work on complex assignments such as water management, infrastructure and urban planning. The degree of expertise is very high in these fields. These days it is very popular to consult the general public on
“...we are not going to solve our environmental problems without solving our urban problems...” design decisions. Are participatory movements still possible in the design process?'
extremes, because often by doing something extremely wrong you get really good ideas about how to do it right.'
Han Meyer Professor. Urban Composition, Urbanism
'Well, it has to do with specialists and laymen, but also with the large and the small scale. Relatively specialist issues like mobility and the water defense system are the most important fields within the DIMI, so in short; dykes and roads. And actually these wet and dry infrastructures are the field of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment, so the important decisions are made on a very high level. You can’t just make a good coastal defense system for The Hague alone, because if the system fails 300 meters down the road, the whole Randstad will still flood. You will need a concept for the whole coast, and the same goes for the rivers and for highways. However, it should fit in and be of some value to local communities that live next to these highways, or on the coast. That is a very big task; in the end it is about how to make things in such a way that locals can also see the benefit of it. That means that your initial plans must always have some space left for parts of the plan to change, so there’s a high level of flexibility demanded from these specialisms. This in turn means that specialisms shouldn’t hold on to the way of working that has become common over the last century. Rather they should be open to other influences, which are required for working with other disciplines, and in order to bridge this scale difference.' Dirk Sijmons
'Surely people have a right to their say. And honestly, I think in a lot of cases it won’t even work without public participation. Take the energy issue we’re working on for example. There you see that the willingness is directly related to the stake people hold in placing those wind turbines. You see enormous differences in success in deploying wind parks between Nord Rhein Westfalen and the Netherlands. In Nord Rhein Westfalen local communities were brought in from the very beginning, which gave them a kind of ‘we-feeling’ about these turbines. Here in the Netherlands we’ve seen more of a top down policy, which led to an atmosphere of ‘they’re putting these mills here’ and ‘we have to live with it.'
'If the city of the future is a combination of urban planning, mobility and climate resilience, what then is the landscape of the future?' Maurits de Hoog
'The delta city region is a very specific case. Those regions are spread out systems combined with these large scale programs. There’s a complex assignment in that, with Schiphol, the port, but also things like tourism. And because this system is so spread out the large scales, which are less self-evident, are quickly eaten up. Those contrasts that are important for the quality of the city are disappearing rapidly. That’s a very specific task, this crumbling up of open spaces. These spaces need to be connected, that’s the success of the London model in Amsterdam for instance. In ten minutes you’re out of the landscape and into the city; that’s a real quality. This contrast with the landscape that the city then offers, that’s a basic quality we should maintain.' Han Meyer
'If from now on we continue with a more compact form of urban planning, rather than expanding, then this whole Dutch landscape is still a very constructed landscape, directly linked to urban use. This can be seen through people recreating there that live in cities, or in the fact that food is produced there which is consumed in cities. Also it has to be maintained in such a way that if our landscapes aren’t kept dry, neither are our cities, so water management is directly linked to both city and landscape. The term resilience is quite fundamental. The Dutch landscape is currently highly fixed, with little flexibility. Now there’s this movement that started with the rivers to create a more resilient water system, which in turn can create new and interesting landscapes. For it to be more resilient and thus flexible it will have to make use of some of the strong points that are still left in the landscape, historically, but that have been covered up during land consolidation projects and such. This resilient landscape is something different than this almost industrially organized landscape that we have now.'
'I think the only possibility is that we as a collective of engineers provide a number of choices. So as a group of designers you make a number of alternatives and then you let the citizens choose. Maybe they want something in the middle and you’ll need to make a hybrid. I think that’s a good way of cooperating, because discussing these matters in detail will be very difficult I believe. It’s very important, especially for the TU, to show the extremes in these alternatives. For instance with traffic, you can maximize the usage of the roads, so you need less space. But then when one fly lands on your car window in this perfectly regulated system, then the whole system crashes and there’s traffic jam from Maastricht to Amsterdam, because all the reserves have been squeezed out. On the other hand you can build more roads, which will cost a lot more space, but which will probably be more robust. That might not be what you want to hear or do, but that’s a political standpoint, which is fine by me. At the University you have to ensure that the whole range is explored. Also, as a thought experiment I think it’s valuable to work out these
'I think that urbanization has become an aspect on such a large scale, and is spread out globally in such special places, that you could say that almost all environmental problems on this planet have become urban problems, or at least carry urban components. You could also turn this around and say; we are not going to solve our environmental problems without solving our urban problems. That shows how important I think this primarily urban view is and that’s also how I see the landscape, especially how we study it here in Delft. You can see that in urbanized space we will also need to solve the world food problem because cities happen to expand most rapidly in our deltas, which also contain our best arable soil. For the most part, and for most of humanity, the landscape of the future will be a hybrid, sometimes new, repaired or sometimes defragmented, but which will need to play a role in this gigantic urban fabric that we have developed.' JAN WILBERS 11
Het project ‘De plantage van Berlijn’ koppelt de ontwikkeling van de stad aan voedsel. Tempelhof wordt opnieuw een voedselcentrum voor de stad.
De mechanismen van de productie, distributie, consumptie en verwerking van voedsel functioneren als motor voor het ontstaan van een robuust Berlijns stadslandschap. H 4
Een landschap met vele gezichten. Een structuur van ‘poreuze’ bouwblokken met collectieve tuinen ontwikkeld zich langzaam tussen de boomgaarden. Zij zijn de schakel tussen de bestaande stad en een weids productielandschap dat ook als uniek park gebruikt wordt. De terminal wordt op enkele strategische plekken doorbroken waardoor het gebouw toegankelijk wordt en als nieuwe openbare ruimte stad en veld verbindt. Daarnaast wordt de nationaal socialistische monumentaliteit gerelativeerd en de indrukwekkende constructie zichtbaar gemaakt.
Een nieuwe laag wordt toegevoegd aan de rijke geschiedenis van het Tempelhofer vliegveld. Een laag waar transparante locale voedselproductie stevig wordt gekoppeld aan een continu veranderend stedelijk landschap.
Upcoming Urbanism talent in the Netherlands 14.
1. bestaande energiecentrale 2. boerderij #1 3. biogasleiding 4. collectieve tuinen 5. sport 6. waterbekken sluit aan op nieuw waternetwerk 7. park Hasenheide 8. theehuis 9. nutstuinen en schooltuinen 10. padensysteem recreatie en landbouw 11. spoorbrug 12. landingsbaan 13. controlecentrum en gemaal 14. silos biocentrale 15. regionale spoorlijnen. verbinding met de regio 16. ovaal route 17. overslagcentrum regionaal voedselcentrum 18. luchtbrug toren 19. Logistieke ruimte 20. Markthal 21. cafe, restaurant, club 22. daklandschap 23. voedsel laboratorium 24. proeftuinen 25. waterbekken gevoed door daklandschap
Wednesday 15 February saw the ceremony of the annual StedenbouwNU (UrbanismNOW) award, a prize dedicated to upcoming talents in Urbanism and Landscape Architecture. Since most of our readers are students in these disciplines, Atlantis took a look at the winning designs, presenting them below. 1
Het poreuze bouwblok
De tuinen van Neuköln
Although three plans were to be nominated by a jury panel of one hundred (!) critics, four prizes were awarded. Reason for this was the fact that third and fourth almost equalled in score and there was a clear gap between these and the rest. The four prize winners will work together on a design assignment sponsored by the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment. Atlantis presents an image overview of the designs of the four awarded students and describes the winning design. 500m
Short videos of the prize winners and the rest of the participants explaining their designs are available at www.stedebouw.nu. Gebouw en veld worden als eenheid ontwikkeld. De leegte van het veld is een kwaliteit.
Een eenduidig casco met wisselende maaswijdte biedt ruimte voor nieuwe stedelijke landchappen.
Casco voor stad en boomgaarden 100 ha
Casco voor grootschalige landbouw 300 ha
Casco voor de regionale voedselterminal
Dakterras voor recreatie en evenementen.
Laboratorium en onderzoeksruimtes TU Berlijn.
De nieuwe langzame stad.
H 4 H 3 H 2 H 1 HANGAR 1-4
Figure 1. Winner - Jan-Martijn Eekhof – Tempelhof: Berlin’s Public Garden (Academie van Bouwkunst, Amsterdam)
Tempelhof: Berlin’s Public Garden Jan-Martijn Eekhof claimed first prize with his transformation of Berlin Tempelhof Airport, winning the Archiprix 2011 along the way. Essential aspect of his design is the statement that programme should not be the steering force in the redesign. This has everything to do with the historical sensibility of the area and the fact that Berlin has little market pressure, leaving the area open until now. Eekhof proposes a plan in which the physical layout can grow steadily over time, generating new urban tissue. The Tempelhof is reintroduced as the food centre of the city (as it was during World War ii for West Berlin), thus facilitating “a structure of porous city blocks with communal gardens [that] mediates between the city and a new productive landscape”. The design seeks to add a new layer to the rich history of Tempelhof Airport, in which “transparent local food production is welded into a continuously changing urban landscape”.
Figure 2. 2nd Prize - Wolbert van Dijk – The Dike Plateau (Academie van Bouwkunst, Rotterdam)
The Dike Plateau The primary flood defence designed as a dyke platform with a versatile urban delta landscape on the right bank of the river Maas between Rotterdam and Hook of Holland.
Figure 3. 3rd Prize - Thijs de Zeeuw – The Unconditional Garden (Academie van Bouwkunst, Amsterdam)
The Unconditional Garden Approximately sixty percent of all Dutch plants and animals are found in the city or suburbs. But still nature is led by the red versus green polemic which separates the city and nature. The design looks for a way to make visible this wealth of the city.
The Hidden City A design proposal for the naval dockyard at Oosterdok to make good that harbour basin's potential as public space by bringing out its unique hidden qualities.
Figure 4. 4th Prize - Marijke Bruinsma – The Hidden City (Academie van Bouwkunst, Amsterdam)
Landscape Aesthetics for Sustainable Architecture
Daniel Jauslin PhD Candidate Landscape Architecture, TU Delft
No, No and No. Three times No is the answer to the question: is there currently such a thing as aesthetics in sustainable architecture? This answer is drawn from the discussions of three architects who are acclaimed practitioners and thinkers in the field. If we assume that aesthetics is something that all architects pursue in one form or another, it would appear that, currently, sustainability is not an integral part of it. One of the acclaimed architects considered in this chapter is Rem Koolhaas, a Pritzker laureate and one of the founders of OMA, a highly regarded practice in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. He opened his keynote lecture at a Harvard University conference on sustainability in 2009 with the following statement: "I did not assume that anyone in the academic world would ask a practicing architect in the 21st century, given the architecture that we collectively produce, to participate in a conference on ecological urbanism." 1 During his lecture, Koolhaas showed a photomontage of a massive wall of skyscrapers set in the desert, including some of OMA’s own designs (Fig. 1). If we asked Koolhaas the hypothetical question: ‘Does the aesthetics of architecture contribute to a sustainable world and its ecology?’ He might answer: ‘No. Architecture is rarely sustainable as a human activity.’ The second acclaimed architect considered in this chapter is Peter Eisenman. During the Eisenman + Wigley IV lecture at Columbia University in 2009, he made the following statement regarding the US Green Building Council’s rating system 2 while discussing the meaning of architectural practice in the context of the current financial crisis: "Some of the worst buildings I have seen have Gold, Silver or Platinum LEED Certificates … and they are awful, architecturally. They are depressing … They may optimize ecological constraints today but they don’t do anything for the culture in terms of the excess required for architecture … Architecture has always been about an environmentally possible way of being. Hence the buildings that last throughout the history of architecture." 3 Although Eisenman might agree that great pieces of architecture – the kind that last for centuries – possess certain aesthetic qualities, if we asked him the hypothetical question: ‘Does sustainable architecture possess durable aesthetics?’ Eisenman might answer: ‘No. Sustainable buildings do not possess lasting aesthetics.’
Figure 1: Collage for Lecture R. Koolhaas Sustainability: advancement vs. apocalypse (OMA 2009)
The third acclaimed architect considered here is Wolf Prix, co-founder of the Coop Himmelb(l) au in Vienna (Fig. 2). He presented a striking statement during the opening lecture for the 2009 Münchner Opernfestspiele (Munich Opera Festival): “Sustainability belies signification – and it is therefore not possible to generate ‘aesthetics’ from the term sustainability. There is no such living aesthetics of sustainability as that of modernist architecture.” 4, 5 This statement led to a major uproar among German Architects and a policy debate or ‘die Grundsatzdebatte’ in the prominent German newspaper, Die Süddeutsche Zeitung. 6 If we asked Prix the hypothetical question: ‘Is there such thing as aesthetics in sustainable architecture?’ He might answer: ‘No. By definition, there cannot be.’ To summarize current debates on the aesthetic possibilities of sustainability in architecture, we may conclude that today, there is no consensus as to what these possibilities are or whether they exist at all. At least this is the conclusion that may be drawn from the unauthorized summaries of three of the most prominent architects in the field. Their remarks 14
Figure 2: Wolf D. Prix with significant architecture, dress and accessoires (Photo:AP ddp)
Figure 3: Mimimum Impact House Frankfurt (2004-2008) Photo: Drexler Guinand Jauslin Architects
are quite recent â€“ made within the past few years â€“ and quite behind schedule if we consider that sustainability has grown to become a firmly established and often compelling issue in the fields of science and politics over the past two decades. On a wider scale, the United Nations committed itself to the goal of sustainable development and environmental protection on a global scale when it passed Resolution 38/161 in 1987. In the process, the UN established its own definition for sustainable development: "Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."7 One decade later, the Kyoto Protocols 8 established energy efficiency as an important policy agenda of many of the UN member states. While definitions of sustainable development and energy efficiency were established at the level of international policy making more than 20 years ago, it seems that on the whole, the profession of architecture still disregards the impact of sustainable development, while failing to connect the notion of sustainability to the notion of aesthetics. As a practicing architect, it is clear that these problems may stem from the fact that environmental destruction does not appear to be a matter that can be ameliorated or resolved through architectural aesthetics. And in fact, that addressing environmental destruction would curtail aesthetic possibilities. For many architects, sustainable design has become an issue not because it is integral to their own desires for aesthetic experimentation or development, but because of the new legalities imposed by building regulations and the economic ramifi-
cations of the real estate market. As of 2011/2012, we could say that current architecture is not willing to meet the challenges of sustainable development, environmental protection and energy efficiency in a proactive manner, given the widespread assumption of the substantial aesthetic compromises that would be required to do so. In order to advance the cause of environmental consciousness in architecture, what appears necessary is neither an exclusive commitment to sustainability nor a commitment to another avant-garde aesthetic. However, playing up the polemics of opposition between sustainability and the avant-garde will not lead to a resolution. Rather, a renewed environmental consciousness may be triggered with an aesthetic sensitivity toward the natural environment that provides the context for each piece of architecture, developed in tandem with a wider understanding of the human dimensions and aesthetic qualities implemented in the built environment. A very different way of dealing with the polarity of nature and culture can be seen in the perspective of landscape. German art theorist and activist Bazon Brock defines landscape as the aesthetic human appropriation of nature.9 The role of aesthetics in landscape is not to separate natural forms from the cultural realm, but to reconnect them. Drawing inspiration from the inherent terms of aesthetics in landscape, the architectural discipline could develop a real alternative to the invasive practice of architecture where the dichotomy of nature and culture is profound. With inspiration from the landscape perspective, it may be possible to shift the position and approach of 15
Figure 4: Grin Grin Park with Visitor’s Centre by Toyo Ito in Fukuoka (2002-2005) Photo by author, 2010
architecture toward nature, moving from an approach of opposition to one of integration. Such a renewal is clearly outside the scope and potential of avant-garde aesthetics alone. A common recognition of where our efforts should lead in terms of environmental consciousness seems to be absent from the education, socialization and profession of architecture. In fact, the question of how a building, city or landscape will be perceived by its users and inhabitants is the key question that underlies most of our design work. Designs that please human perception tend to trump the consideration of the natural environment. However, no matter which side of the discourse they fall on, most architects agree that architecture should contain certain aesthetics, and most decision makers agree that finding a sense of sustainability is a prerequisite of any planning or architectural activity. But the relation between these two priorities – aesthetics and sustainability – changes according to the theoretical and practical views of different actors in the process of building. The landscape perspective may be able to unite the seeming dichotomies of nature versus culture and aesthetics versus sustainability, showing that these dichotomies do not have to reside at the core of the discipline. Already, some practitioners of contemporary architecture have been strongly influenced by the concept of landscape. In 1966, Vittorio Gregotti postulated that architects should focus on territories rather than architectural space.10 And since the late 1980’s, architects have developed a wide range of process-ori16
ented approaches to architectural design that include cartographic methods such as mapping, and surface-oriented methods such as folding. These methods expanded beyond the academic circles and into professional practice during the 1990’s. Although most of these methods took compositional and philosophical detours and do not implement a purely territorial approach, they are fundamental to a consciousness that is changing the discipline in significant ways: a consciousness that views the organization and composition of architectural space as landscape. Concomitant with this rise in landscape-oriented consciousness is a research framework that can be characterized as the ‘architecture of landscape methods,’11 developed to investigate and understand architecture that has been designed as landscape. Within this research framework, the interior volume of a building and the exterior landscape surface surrounding a building do not merely interact. Instead, the building is designed as an artificial landscape, as a continuation and augmentation of the natural one. This idea of landscape defines the exterior surfaces as well as the interior surfaces, and through these methods, the relation of landscape to architecture is in fact turned inside out. A specific focus of landscape architecture is placed on understanding the formative elements and qualities implicit in the landscape, and on developing architectural design methods and strategies in consideration of them. With the implementation of this approach, landscape architecture consists of a range of
natural, cultural, urban and architectonic constituents.12 There is an obvious correlation between content and form: the location where the content resides is what connects the landscape to the architectonic in terms of material, topographic, technical, cultural and economic substance. Form involves the way in which the elements are assembled into a composition, based on the development of a variable but intimate relationship between object and context.13, 14 In this way, the modalities of landscape architecture are employed in the design of architectonic constructs, in order to formulate a set of design tools that are appropriate to the challenges of designing the built environment in relation to the natural one. The idea of landscape in fact defines an aesthetic mediation between the natural and artificial worlds. The design methods of landscape architecture are particularly useful; they can be contrasted to architecture in terms of how they strategically approach spatial design. While most pieces of architecture carry a distinct building program forward from the outset of the design work, landscape approaches start from the topography of the site. Developing the aesthetics of sustainable architecture is necessary. It is probably the only path left in the future of architecture – aside from the complete absence thereof – that can begin to address the impacts of providing architecture and infrastructure to the world’s population of 7 billion. Designing for sustainability is a unique opportunity. It does not indicate the end of architecture as an aesthetic system, nor does it indicate an
Figure 5: Villa VPRO by MVRDV in Hilversum (1993-1998), Photo by author
Figure 6: Yokohama Ferry Terminal by FOA (1995-2002), Photo by author, 2010
imposition on architecture’s creative enterprise. In fact, designing for sustainability is an aesthetic project at its heart, where aesthetic systems can be used to form a symbiotic relationship between the city and its surroundings. If we understand architecture as part of the topological space of landscape, we will also be able to understand our place within the relational system between the natural and built environments. This new approach cultivates an understanding of landscape as a human interface with nature, presenting a means by which to design architecture in a sustainable manner, along with a renewed context of sustainable aesthetics. If we cultivate our spatial relationship to the environment as both a design method and a context, we will be able to gain a much wider understanding of architecture in terms of its range and scale, thereby reclaiming the responsibility for its programmatic and contextual correlations as a discipline.
Anne Grete Hestnes, Glen Hill, Stefanie Holzheu, Louisa Hutton, Daniel Jauslin, Ralph L. Knowles, Kengo Kuma, Sang Lee, Giancarlo Mangone, Elisanetta Pero, Matthias Sauerbruch, Patrick Teuffel, Harad N. Røstvik, Matthew Skjonsberg and Minna Sunikka-Blank. References 1 Rem Koolhaas, ‘Sustainability: Advancement vs. Apocalypse’ (keynote lecture presented at the Ecological Urbanism Conference, Harvard University, Cambridge MA, April 3, 2009). Available at: http://www.oma.eu/ index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=132&Itemid=25 (accessed April 2011). 2 See the USGBC Leadership for Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System (TM), 2007. Available at: http://www.usgbc.org/LEED (accessed April 2011). 3 Peter Eisenman and Mark Wigley, In Dialogue Eisenman + Wigley VI (New York: GSAPP Columbia University, 7.7.2009) Transcript of lecture from iTunesU. 4 ‘Nachhaltigkeit verleugnet Zeichenhaftigkeit – und daher ist es nicht möglich, aus dem Begriff Nachhaltigkeit “Ästhetik” zu generieren. Eine lebendige Ästhetik der Nachhaltigkeit gibt es nicht.’ Translation by the author, original German text courtesy of Coop
In a sense, architecture practiced as a landscape method will be closer to an art form more than to a technological accomplishment, and indeed, "Yes" will be the certain answer to the question: is there such a thing as aesthetics of sustainable architecture?
Himmelb(l)au. 5 Wolf D. Prix, ‘Vom Werden und Entstehen Vortrag Zur Eröffnung der Münchner Opernfestspiele: 2009,’ in Süddeutsche Zeitung (München, 2009). 6 Comparable to political editorials in English-speaking newspapers. 7 The Brundtland Commission, Our Common Future (Oxford: Oxford University Press,
This article is abbreviated from a chapter in: Sang Lee (Ed.) Aesthetics of Sustainable Architecture, Rotterdam (010) 2011. Order at http://www.010.nl or support your local bookstore ISBN 978 90 6450 752 6
1987). Also Published as Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development, Annex to General Assembly document A/42/427. 8 UNFCCC, Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UN: UNFCCC, 1998). 9 Bazon Brock, Ästhetik als Vermittlung: Arbeitsbiographie
The purpose of Sang Lee's book is to reveal, explore and further the debate on the aesthetic
eines Generalisten (Cologne: DuMont, 1977).
potentials of sustainable architecture and its practice. "Aesthetics of Sustainable Architecture"
10 Vittorio Gregotti, ‘La Forma del Territorio,’ Edilizia
opens a new area of scholarship and discourse in the design and production of sustainable archi-
Moderna no. 87-88 (1965): 109-112.
tecture, one that is based in aesthetics. The chapters in this book have been compiled from ar-
11 Daniel Jauslin, Architecture with Landscape Methods: Doctoral Thesis Proposal and
chitects and scholars working in diverse research and practice areas in North America, Europe,
SANAA Rolex Learning Center Lausanne Sample Field Trip (Delft: TU Delft, 2010).
the Middle East and Asia. While they approach the subject matter from different angles, the
available on www.repository.tudelft.nl
chapters of the book help clarify the key principles behind environmental concerns and sustain-
12 Clemens M. Steenbergen and Wouter Reh, the Great European Gardens and Land-
ability in architecture. At its very core, Aesthetics of Sustainable Architecture underlines the connection that exists between our approach to the environment and sustainability on one hand, and our approach to certain aesthetic propositions and practices on the other.
scapes, Revised and Expanded Edition (Basel, Boston, Berlin: Birkhäuser, 2003). 13 Clemens M. Steenbergen, Sabine Meeks and Steffen Nijhuis, Composing Landscapes. Analysis, Typology and Experiments for Design (Basel, Boston and Berlin: Birkhäuser, 2008). 14 Steffen Nijhuis, Inge Bobbink and Daniel Jauslin, ‘Landscape as an Architectural Com-
With contributions by Nezar AlSayyad, Gabriel Arboleda, Vinayak Bharne, Keith Bothwell,
position: The Delft Approach,’ in Representing Landscapes Provisional Title, Forthcoming
John Brennan, David Briggs, Luca Finocciaro, Kenneth Frampton, Marie Antoinette Glaser,
Landscape Intermission Interview with Dirk Sijmons
At the recent book presentation of ‘Metropolitan Landscapes’, which also say the end of 18 years of professorship for Clemens Steenbergen, Dirk Sijmons, his follow-up, argued he should be seen more as an interim professor for the chair, as he would never be able to hold the chair for as long as his predecessor. As the new professor of landscape, with over twenty years of experience in the field and a different approach to the discipline, what are his plans for the coming years? For this short interview Atlantis asked Dirk Sijmons only three questions. What he inherited when he took the position, what he is plan-
of work demanding the right patience, precision and persistence has been produced in their books, which for that reason have spread out so much internationally. So much for the research I found. Education has changed in the sense that the master track program was recently set up very much in accordance with the research. I’m not sure whether brilliant research outcomes in the form of archetypes within Landscape Architecture form the ideal base for a good educational curriculum, perhaps there are still some intermediate steps to be taken, but that’s the swing that was given to this typically Delft master track Landscape Architecture.'
ning to change, and what he intends to leave behind for the successor. Interim or not, things will surely change. Inheritance
Sijmons studied in Delft in the seventies, graduating in environmental planning, a study program devised by himself and several others on the waves of the second environmental movement. Back then, Landscape Architecture was a supporting chair for Urbanism, which under the wings of Frans Maas, grew out to be something more. He attracted experts on ecology, soil and water, whereby landscape was the common denominator for each part. 'That was around the time I graduated. A lot has changed in the Landscape department from the time I left until my return. Wouter Reh, Clemens Steenbergen and Gerrit Smienk developed the morphological typological methodology based on the plan analysis of Max Risselada into a toolbox for Landscape Architecture. Different from Architecture and Urbanism, in our field our predecessors never published much. They just made things, perhaps with a drawing or two. They were often people coming from the gardening or land surveyor tradition, who just did their job without writing about how they did it; without describing the methodology used. That’s what Wouter and Clemens have done for all canonical periods in Landscape Architecture: analyzing the methodology, the structural layout, how it was made, in what proportions and so on. For the first time now we’re back on track. A lot
'For me, two things play an important role in reviewing the relationship between education, practice and research. The first is that I strongly belief in the calm development of the design vocabulary. I think this is not only valuable to landscape students but also to urbanism students. Too few practical exercises, such as allotment studies for instance are being carried out. I’m happy that this seems to be an important aspect in the landscape curriculum but I’m slightly worried that the exercises relate too little to practice. Although there’s room for this in the graduation year, I can also imagine that you integrate modern assignments more into the four quarters which currently have a very fundamental character, while retaining this almost craftsmanship like buildup of the design assignments throughout the first year of the master track. I think that’s very good to hold on to.' What to change
'The second thing in this interrelationship between education, practice and research is the relationship with Urbanism and Architecture. I would very much like to strengthen this relationship, thus grasping the essence of the typical Delft approach to Landscape Architecture, which is different from the approach in Wageningen. The current graduation studio is already different from the first quarters in that major societal issues like energy need to be solved, applying Landscape Architecture to social-economic problems. I think this can be done throughout the whole master track.'
“What I would like to add is the landscape architectonic analysis of the elements that make up the metabolism of the city...” 'So, when looking from the viewpoint of Landscape Architecture to planning problems at the large scale dealing with delta urbanization issues, it’s interesting to analyze the different elements that are connected to the metabolism of such a large city one by one: to look at the design and other aspects of such an element in a landscape architectonic way. ' 'This year that large scale societal issue is energy, and I would like to see this theme being picked up in publications so that we can build on that. For instance, in the second year it would be nice if we work on mobility and transport. As landscape architects we have a beautiful tradition connected to these topics and we should review this tradition, looking into the design of roads, canals etcetera. Interesting with reference to this is the fact that the first large roads, the parkways in America, were built based on a beauty ideal of the route through the park. I think there is a lot to draw from this tradition, to re-link it to current assignments, such as finishing the secondary road networks.'
This breadth of the field is not yet determined then? 'It still needs to be given a shape and there is a maximum to how far you can go, because on the higher regional level there is no direct grasp on the form means. Those are living natural and living social processes and not realization assignments in which you directly plan smallscale elements. It’s more about the larger direction under which smallscale developments will grow. I doubt whether the chair of landscape architecture should add this component. What I would like to add is the landscape architectonic analysis of the elements that make up the metabolism of the city, as I mentioned earlier. How does the city acquire its drinking water, what about mobility and transport, where does it get its building material from, how is it powered? To dissect these elements one by one and address them like landscape architectonic design questions. Perhaps in the form of graduation studios like we do this year, all as a prelude to and a start-up of further research.' To leave behind
One of the critiques on Urbanism education in Delft is the lack of design on the small scale. Landscape Architecture is often named as one of the chairs that can change this. 'Most definitely, part of the first four studios is devoted to that scale level. That is the legacy of Frank de Josselin de Jong, a great public space designer, who unexpectedly passed away two years ago. The current work of landscape architects also focuses a lot on this scale level. A fairly recent trend if you consider that in the sixties and seventies the work of landscape architects limited itself to gardens and parks outside the city; large recreation projects and so on.' 'For a long time urban designers weren’t educated in Urbanism, but rather urban city managers or city doctors, or city planners. Those didn’t design. So there was a whole generation of non-designers with the big exception of Frits Palmboom. That niche of urban design which was left unattended, was then claimed by landscape architects. So you are right if you say that it’s an important scale level and an important addition that we should connect to our stay here in Delft: that we operate on the level in-between architecture and urbanism, the micro urban level; public space.' 'Then we immediately encounter the problematic of Landscape Architecture. It has always been such a small discipline that no one has ever taken it up to order it in smaller segments. Whereas industrial design, furniture design, interior design, architecture, urbanism and urban planning all have been segmented, landscape architecture still spans the whole scalar breadth of the field. Apart from the intermediate scale inbetween architecture and urbanism there is also the larger scale of the metropolitan region. The largest design object that has been studied in Delft so far is something like a complete reclamation polder.'
To complete the cycle of professorship, what do you expect to leave behind? 'We have just heard the fear resonate in the farewell interview by Clemens and Wouter in the Blauwe Kamer that their whole legacy will just be put aside. I can assure you, nothing could be further from the truth. But we are going to add a different way of thinking about the process, in the sense that you can design and shape all the different elements. These elements deviate from the canonical assignments of landscape architecture, but belong very much to the 20th century phenomenon, such as for instance the design of the fresh water storage in the Biesbosch, by Alle Hosper, or the covenant between government and state forestry from 1917 on embedding the national roads and canal structures. That’s a beautiful tradition in Dutch practice that we should dust off every now and then.' 'To conclude, the analytical landscape architectonic toolbox as created in Delft will be expanded with new elements covering the process side, much more derived from practice and contemporary issues. There is a lot of discussion on the distinction between practice and the discipline. Especially in these times with less direct funding, practical knowledge sometimes gets the upper hand.' 'Based on my experience in practice, I am convinced that it’s extremely important to have a place where people have the patience, time and freedom to get to the bottom of a subject and summarize their findings in a PhD, as opposed to the extremely nervous and restless practice. It’s possible to say that you incorporate that research in projects and further research is unnecessary but then you really are devaluating the work of my predecessor. Such a body of research could never come from practice.' JAN WILBERS
Capstone Trias Architectonica
Bookreview Metropolitan Landscape Architecture Berrie van Elderen
Following 'Architecture and Landscape' and 'The Polder Atlas of the Netherlands " another colossal book has been published by Clemens Steenbergen and Wouter Reh: ’Metropolitan Landscape Architecture, urban parks and landscapes’. This book represents the culmination of many years of research into what the authors call the Trias Architectonica. In this series, the three knowledge fields of landscape architecture are investigated, namely the basic design tools, the development of the architectural form of the cultural landscape and the landscape architecture of the city. ‘Metropolitan Landscape Architecture’ deals with the knowledge field of the urban landscape.
All the studies focus on the design research, not to be confused with historical research or research that is done in disciplines such as landscape science, land use and landscape planning. The research always involves a scientific approach to the landscape architectural design itself, the architectural form of the landscape is pivotal. Thus the books of the Trias Architectonica are an impressive plea for a revaluation of form as a cultural medium. This is an answer to the claim of the authors that ‘the landscape architecture and design disciplines threaten to disappear beyond the horizon and the urban landscape becomes a purely programmatic and process-oriented task, based on systematic thinking and landscape ecological views.’
Schinkel, May, Wright, Tschumi, Eisenman, etc.), the rest by civil engineers and urban planners. As an example, the study describes Cerda’s career steps: trained as civil engineer, then into politics after which he began an intensive study of urbanism. Even the "purebred" Landscape Architects often have other professions, parttime or previously. For example, the Zochers worked as architects and as plant breeders. In this regard Olmsted was an epitome. He was an apprentice mechanic, clerk and sailor; he worked at a trading company and had a farm; he had been a writer and was correspondent for the New York Daily Times. Only after the bankruptcy of his publisher, was he appointed superintendent of the
The book is a chronological overview of the changing relationship between city and landscape. It deals with urban parks and landscapes from the Renaissance to today. This journey through the metropolitan landscape starts with the Horti Farnesiani and includes (among others) Regent's Park, the Eixample, the Vondelpark and the Grüngürtel in Cologne. In the final chapter a number of parks and recent designs are touched upon, with the aim of drawing conclusions on the fundamentals of landscape architecture - while doing justice to the dynamics of the experimental design and the escape from an analytical framework. The book covers various examples. Relatively compact, clear designs, urban ensembles, green networks and urban expansion are discussed. Interesting shifts in the design of the urban landscape are clarified through these examples. The social context and historical background of designers and their inspiration is possibly just as interesting as the study of form, concept, typology and instrumentation. It shows that the context determines the significance of shifts in the urban landscape, and that designers are not only confronted by this context, but that a vanguard of designers is also able to help shape context and problem. Perhaps unintentionally, the book is also a plea for broadening the social and professional horizons of the individual designer. At least half of the chosen examples is made by or with architects (Vignola, Nash, 20
Figure 1. The park in the city today: buildings, visual elements, park components. p.225
Figure 2. Parque del Clot, the spatial transitions between park, the old topography and the urban grid. p.255
Central Park where he collected detailed topographic information. Only after architect and landscape designer Calvert Bowyer Vaux asked him to join in the entry of the competition for Central Park, did his career as a landscape architect begin. Another interesting finding in the margins of the book is the comparison between the design then and the actual situation now. Despite the core message of the book, the significance of design in time is put into perspective. The book contains a lot of information about the changing role and significance of the various selected examples and shows that places sometimes develop contrary to the ideas of the designer, and that this can also be good. Examples of such shifts are Central Park and the Eixample. Central Park has been carefully designed to provide an escape of the city, but the choice in the design combined with the unforeseen development of the city caused the park to evolve into a spectacular stage for the city. Cerda wanted the blocks in the Eixample open on two sides, so the green area could flow through the city. Under pressure from the developing city this wasn’t realized. He also positioned the larger parks in areas that were apparently too interesting for other functions. None of the six parks planned by Cerda were realized. The examples in the book are explained carefully and have plausible interpretations. Only occasionally is the investigation hindered by the desire to find something or draw conclusions. Such is the case in the Vondelpark. According to the authors, this park is a model for the landscape architectural transformation of a peat landscape. The design for the park even includes the basic landscape architectural solutions for incorporating peat lands into the city. But the authors argue against this strongly, claiming that
the park is a classical ‘peat polder park’. The design language for the Vondelpark was developed in hilly terrain; the design of paths and watercourses are reminiscent of the serpentine line from the theory of William Hogarth; the Zochers tried to copy a generic landscape; more to the point, the park has the character of a bocage: the plants chosen by Zocher were largely taken from catalogues and belonged to the standard repertoire for gardens and parks in entirely different conditions. The polder system also played no significant role in the imagery used and elements such as the pumping station were camouflaged. The designers, so it seems, have done their best to ignore the peat polder, rather than to express it within the confines of the park. There is so much in the proposal that is at odds with a peat polder that the question can be asked whether the classification as ‘peat polder park’ is no more than an observation on its location. ‘Metropolitan Landscape Architecture’ is a book that invites one to think. It offers a wealth of information on classical examples from the design history of the last few hundred years. It is not only a study of the landscape architectural design in a series of examples, pursuing concepts, typologies and design principles, but it also provides interesting insights into the context in which those designs were created. Thus the book not only offers a wealth of information for students and the professional world, but it also includes many inspirational tools to respond to the issues of today. The great strength of the work lays not so much in the suggestions the authors offer, but above all in the underlying multiplicity of ideas, translations and shifts described. Considered in combination with the other two books of the Trias Architectonica, we are looking at a unique body of research in the Netherlands. 21
Craftsmanship as a responsibility Reflection by jorick beijer
The theme of Friday September 30, the final day of the Urbanism Week Symposium was: “society & space: rediscovering the human form”. This rather broad theme covered an equally broad discussion, how does political, social and economic development influence the way that urbanists design and plan the city? Professor Wouter Vanstiphout argued in his contribution that we shouldn’t underestimate the way that urban planning traditionally is linked to government. “This big shift in morality of government is that they now say: where are not going to run your lives anymore. It’s a kind of reversed paternalism you could say”. Professor Henco Bekkering opened with the provocative statement: “In a formal sense a client pays you. This is why we have a rather whorish profession”. The responsibility towards society is then an equilibrium, different for each client, commission and location.
The Urbanism Week which Polis organized September 26th – 30th 2011 elaborated on the theme: ‘So, you are an urbanist?!’ The five day program with workshops, lectures, and discussion by a broad range of speakers critically reflected on the meaning of the urbanism discipline. The Thursday and Friday where arranged as a Symposia. A astonishing amount of over 250 visitors shared their thoughts with international speakers and TU Delft professors. My contribution to Atlantis 22.3 as well as this issue 22.4 is to set frameworks regarding the day themes ‘crisis and beyond, the continuous state of change’ and ‘society & space, rediscovering human form’ with a small personal reflection. See for more info, photos and videos: www.urbanismweek.nl
Professor Edward Soja directly stated that he isn’t an urban designer, nor wishes to be one. “A city in which architects build buildings, urbanists became involved with clusters of buildings, and then the city becomes just a cluster of clustered buildings, and beyond it is the world”. Professor Vanstiphout passionately discussed the statement that urbanists can’t shape society. “I think this statement is incredibly misused. Its misused as a smoke screen and an excuse for not talking about politics”. He argued that the real client of the designer is not the client, but society. Should urban designers then be held accountable for failure in shaping society? Professor Joost Schrijnen did feel this responsibility, but more a professional then a personal one. He described the role of the urbanist as very inspiring in searching for inspiration on the project site and then convert this to your commissions as a tool to materialize their urban realities. “Your position is modest, but the influence of your work is unbelievable big”. Maarten Hajer referred to his lecture earlier that day in stressing his opinion that there is a lost power of narrative and that the urbanist needs to dare telling stories. He referred to the presentation of Adriaan Geuze “Adriaan told us stories. Stories that related a place to the place where it came from and what it potentially could be. I think that is a fantastic expression of craftsmanship”. Adriaan Geuze elaborated more on this particular kind of craftsmanship, where communication in itself is the main condition. “So a plan should, whatever the goal on the horizon is of what kind of narrative it carries, it should face the realities and banalities of this condition. I’m very positive about that because for me its fueling my fantasies and my performance. My desire to play the game, to rock and roll. It helps me but it is in my character, I’m from a big family and not easy to provoke” Maarten Hajer supported this point of view with the statement that the main task of any urban designer is relating to normal people. For me a profound and humble conclusion, coming back where it started: discussing the craftsmanship of the urbanist.
“The first thing is to say that I’m not an urban designer, and nor do I wish to be. I find it a rather neurotic discipline” Edward W. Soja
'What is the perspective of an urban designer, who is his client? In a formal sense a client pays you. This is why we have a rather whorish profession. Next to that we have a responsibility to the general public: we help shaping society. But, citing Andres Duany: “Stakeholders usually have a limited set of goals and cannot stand for the general public”. As such, urbanism is a political business (Vanstiphout). Cities need urbanists, not urban designers. Architects build buildings and urban designers design clusters of buildings; the city then becomes a cluster of clusters of buildings. City-making is a multifunctional activity that better not be left to urban designers (Soja).' Henco Bekkering
'If urban design would be reduced just to a purely disciplinary craft, or a specialism, within an enormous machinery of changing the city then you could indeed this kind of statement that the urbanist can’t shape society. I think this statement is incredibly misused. Its misused as a smoke screen and as an excuse for not talking about politics. Because when urban designers are in there practice, they are shaping society every day. And this discussion about the client. You can see it on the websites of architects and urbanists, in the way that they display a never ending flexibility towards the wishes of their client. I think that is also a problem because I do not think that the real client of the designer is the client. The real client of the designer is society. And sometimes you need a client to get something build, that’s unfortunate, but your real responsibility does not lie in the person that is paying you. Your real responsibility lies with society, so you better have a pretty strong idea where you want to head with society.' Wouter Vanstiphout
'You have a very strange and inspiring role as urbanist because you are searching for inspiration in the place you work and that gives you a kind of energy. Your task is then to find out if your commissioners can work with this energy and use it as a tool to materialize there urban realities. Your position is modest, but the influence of your work is unbelievable big. I can understand that some people would like to be an architect, which is a beautiful profession. But being an urbanist is something different. The architecture is the outcome, but before that there is imagination necessary to overcome the troubles of the place en to integrate the identity of the place into the plan.' Joost Schrijnen urbanism week
The Independent Urbanist Game to create independence in the urban landscape When asked by the Polis board to give a presentation on the independent Urbanist during the Urbanism week, we were afraid of getting stuck in describing the meaning of independence in a work field with endless stakeholders or becoming practical about what we work on and how we get assignments. So instead we turned to a self-reflection. What does independent mean to use and what has it brought us compared to our dreams of urbanism that we had during University. We couldn’t help but looking far back towards the great Urbanists that shaped the structure of our modern cities like Rose, Berlage, Witteveen, van Eesteren or van Traa. People that we were taught about in University and who showed us the first values of Urbanism. Looking that far back made us realize that things have substantially changed over the years. How our assignments and the challenges urban development face have changed. We realized that we need a completely different hand of cards than our predecessors needed.
1. Be Nice In order to transfer ideas you will have to make a connection with somebody. That means you’ll have to understand others and be able to start a dialogue in their understanding.
Independent Urbanists at plein06: Koen de Boo, Robbert Jan van der Veen, Sijmen Schroevers, Jerryt Krombeen, Tim Tutert
We got rid of our ego, but instead are aware of our talent. Our work is to intervene and create new ideas in relation and respect to the large qualitative urban landscapes. Our work is locally based, small scaled but with a larger effect on different scales. We work Bottom-up. We don’t impose our ideas on society. We combine, develop and improve ideas of every stakeholder at the table to create a surplus for everybody. Our new hand of cards, or ten fundamentals, that we work by makes us independent urbanists. Independent in the sense of able to work with all kinds of clients, but also independent as to what we propose for the city. The boundaries of our professions are fading and therefore the places and methods for our interventions become endless. But meanwhile our awareness of urban thinking and great examples of our predecessors stimulate us to aim for the same quality in Urban Design as that was the case in a time when urban planning was institutionalized.
3. You decide who’s important It’s not about focusing on that one alderman or top manager you need everybody on every level to support you. Also you should be able to know the boundaries of your own knowledge and see who you need on a project to strengthen your idea.
4. Look beyond boundaries
2. Be commercial Changing the city means investing in the city some level of knowledge of commercial and economic laws is an advantage.
You didn’t become an urbanist just to work for that one client on that one spot. You work for the city. In every assignment, small or large, you look beyond the boundaries of the assignment to see what effect you can sort for the city within your assignment.
5. Have an opinion / dare to take risks
8. You decide what is important
Speak out. Tell the world what you are about so that people can follow you, agree or disagree with you.
Eventually you will really have to show your independence by choosing what you think is important. You can’t stop at the analysis or the alternatives you will have to deliver a solution. Also you decide how to present your ideas. There are no set rules for how to present a concept or a vision.
6. What’s the question, behind the question Go into depth about the assignment, don’t stop at the question at hand look at what is really going on. Who should really be persuaded and with what arguments.
9. What is the need How is the economy, society, the way we work, live or recreate changing? What will be our future needs?
7. Dare to change your focus Be aware that your knowledge development never stops and that there or other arguments out there that you might not know off. So be open to change your focus and always on the lookout for new ideas.
10. Create new interest Eventually you will have to keep developing new interest for your ideas so that your ideas keep spreading.
plein06 Vijverhofstraat 47 unit 400-2 3032 SB Rotterdam www.plein06.nl email@example.com T: +31(0)10 466 57 95
Remembrances of an older Urbanism Edward W. Soja Distinguished Professor of Urban Planning at UCLA
Urbanism Week reminds me of my brief stay in Amsterdam in the Spring of 1990. Knowing of my work on Los Angeles, the Center for Metropolitan Studies of the University of Amsterdam invited me to live for a time in the Amsterdam Centrum and to prepare a paper and present a lecture looking at Amsterdam from my Los Angeles-based perspective. The result was published in 1991 as “The Stimulus of a Little Confusion: A Contemporary Comparison of Amsterdam and Los Angeles.” 1 I have recently returned to the original essay for a new book I am currently writing called My Los Angeles, a retrospective look back on all that I have written relating specifically to this fascinating urban region. “The Stimulus of a Little Confusion” was the beginning of a period in which, rather than writing directly about developments in Southern California, I began to respond to requests to make comparisons between Los Angeles and other cities. My work on Amsterdam was the earliest, most extensive, and I think the best of these comparative ventures. Given that so much has been changing in recent years, in Amsterdam as well as in the Netherlands as a whole, I thought I might commemorate Urbanism Week 2011 at the Delft University of Technology with a look back at what I said about urbanism in Amsterdam twenty years earlier, if only to remind everyone of the extraordinary qualities existing at that time and the hope that they will never be completely lost. The title I used was taken from an essay by Henry James written on experiencing the 26
Netherlands for the first time in his “Transatlantic Sketches” (1875, p. 384). He wrote: “All these element of the general spectacle in this entertaining country at least give one’s regular habits of thought the stimulus of a little confusion and make one feel that one is dealing with an original genius.” I too felt I was encountering an original genius, one that was focused on creating a socially and spatially just and democratic urbanism. For me, so much in Amsterdam was strangely familiar, deceptively appearing rather ordinary. Yet I was bowled over during my stay by the extraordinary urban agglomeration that was the Centrum of Amsterdam and the very modest responses of the Dutch to their remarkable urban achievements. The popular historian Simon Schama thought in a similar way in his exploration of Dutch culture and what he called its “embarrassment of riches.” He described the uncanny skill of the Dutch, especially in Amsterdam, to turn “catastrophe into good fortune, infirmity into strength, water into dry land, mud into gold.” (1987, 25) The vibrant Centrum was a confusing yet stimulating assemblage of oxymorons, juxtapositions of opposite forces that combine to define the moral geography of Amsterdam. Filtering through the urban fabric was the imprint of highly regulated urban anarchism based on a slightly repressive form of tolerance and an odd combination of flexibility and rigidity. Feeling like I had entered some secret world, I discovered preserved in the Centrum if not all of Amsterdam in 1990 a deep and endur-
ing commitment to libertarian socialist values and participatory democracy, much of which I understand may be withering away in the 21st century. As I wrote at the time, “One senses that Amsterdam is not just preserving its own Golden Age but is actively keeping alive the very possibility of a socially just and humanely scaled urbanism…the most successful enactment of the anarcho-socialist-environmentalist intentions that inspired the urban social movements of the 1960s.” II began my exploration of this extraordinary urban geography by entering, around the corner from the canal house flat I was renting on Spuistraat, the Beguinhof, or Beguine Court. The Beguines were a Dutch lay sisterhood that sought to combine convent-like constraints with freedom to leave and marry, giving to their home habitat an odd mixture of discipline and emancipation. Today the major occupants are unmarried ladies keeping up the traditions, along with hordes of tourists, mainly American, eager to see the ancient church where the fleeing English Pilgrim Fathers securely prayed before setting sail on the Mayflower. On one of my visits, the Loyola College choir from New Orleans were joyfully singing American spirituals to passersby. The Beguine Court at that time was a remarkably peaceful spot despite the flocking tourists, seemingly both open and closed to the outside world, like so many spaces in the paradoxical Centrum. My canal house on Spuistraat was one of more than six thousand monuments to the Golden
"...I was bowled over during my stay by the extraordinary urban agglomeration that was the Centrum of Amsterdam and the very modest responses of the Dutch to their remarkable urban achievements."
Figure 1. Aerial view of Amsterdam Centrum (source: Wikipedia)
Age (15-16th c) that are packed commemoratively into the Centrum, the largest and most lively and lived in historic inner city in Europe. With a frontage no wider than my garage door back in Los Angeles, the building, like nearly all others, rose four storeys to a gabled peak embedded with a startling metal hook designed for moving furniture and bulky items by ropes in through the wide windows. Given the narrow entrance and steep staircase (trappenhuis), I had visions of my great bulk (nearly 2 meters high and 140 kilos in weight) having to be hauled up the same way. To live in a canal house is to immediately and precipitously encoun-
ter Amsterdam. The past is always present in its narrow nooks and odd-angled passageways, its flower-potted spaces and unscreened windows that both open and close to the views outside. You are invited every day into the enriching and communal urban spatiality, an invitation that is at the same time embracingly tolerant and carefully guarded. Not everyone can become an Amsterdammer, but everyone must at least be given a chance to try. From my vantage point on Spuistraat a moving picture of contemporary life in the vital center of Amsterdam visually unfolded. Through my window I could see the vertical class stratification urbanism week
Figure 2 . Aerial view of Los Angeles, with down-town in the background (source: Traveltourist)
of the canal house across the way, the first floor a comfortable home for a working woman who enjoyed candlelit dinners by her window, the second occupied by a couple expecting their first child and more nervously excitable and reclusive, while on the small, plastic sheet-covered top floor a solitary male student sat alone eating his meals. It would not have been surprising to discover that everyone I saw, at one time or another, was a squatter. The vertical view from my window not only was a transect of social class, it was also a reflection of the horizontal story of the squatter movement that was unfolding along Spuistraat. On the corner looking north was one of the end-states of rehabilitated squatting: government constructed rental housing and small shops for settled squatter renters (a phrase containing many contradictions). Just next door was some new office construction on a site probably once occupied by squatters but traded off to the government authorities, probably in return for the comfortable corner compound. Next door to that, closer to my window, was an even earlier phase of the movement, a privately owned building recently occupied by squatters and brightly repainted, graffitoed, and festooned with political banners stretching across the street to another, slightly older, occupation. Painted on the building façade was the obviously absentee owner, caricatured as a fat tourist beached somewhere with sunglasses and tropical drink in hand. Although waning significantly over the next two decades and virtu28
ally gone today, the squatter movement in Amsterdam had by 1990 etched itself more deeply into the urban fabric than it had in almost any other city in the world. Squatting symbolized the tense freedoms and regulated tolerance of a remarkable urban environment that at the time was vibrantly alive. Now hard to imagine, local authorities at the time published pamphlets on “How to be a Squatter,” radical squatters consistently got elected to the city council, and the spirit the movement contributed to the fact that Amsterdam had more social housing than any other Western European or North American city. I did not just look through my windows but explored the many other resources and attractions of the lively Centrum, from hash coffee houses to the numerous museums, the dense shopping streets to the then thriving red light district. While in Amsterdam, I got to know A.C.M. Jansen, an obsessively local geographer who has walked every street in the Centrum many times and has written detailed accounts of the astonishing variety of specialized cafes, beer pubs, and hash coffee shops in the area. Reputed not to even own a bicycle, Jansen, who passed away several years ago, took me on a wonderful walking tour of the Centrum in 1990. He would later write that I, in my look at the Centrum, was one of the few scholars able to capture the exciting flavor of the place without spending at least a year in detailed observance, one of the best
" I could not imagine a greater contrast of city centers than that between Amsterdam and Los Angeles"
Figure 3. Los Angeles.
compliments I have ever received. By the end of my stay, I could not imagine a greater contrast of city centers than that between Amsterdam and Los Angeles.
Professor Soja teaches in the Regional and International Development (RID) area of Urban Planning and also teaches courses in urban political economy and planning theory. After starting his academic ca-
In the second part of “The Stimulus of a Little Confusion,” I moved away from my base on Spuistraat and a focus on the wildly contrasting city centers to explore larger scale regional comparisons between Los Angeles and Amsterdam, seen as an integral part of the polycentric city region of the Randstad. At this larger scale and with respect to recent trends in urban economic restructuring there were greater resemblances between the two urban regions. To set the mood for this regional comparison, I turned to Rem Koolhaas in his essay on “Amsterdam: An Architectural Lesson.” Koolhaas observed that “From my very first visit to Los Angeles in the early 1970s, I have had the feeling that the major Dutch cities (with Amsterdam in the lead) deny out of sentimental considerations the fact that they are part of a larger whole (an area as large and diffuse as Los Angeles) and as such completely ignore a dimension of an entirely different order from the one which they traditionally know. I will close this set of remembrances of urbanism in the past and use Koolhaas’s observations to stimulate new thinking about regional urbanization and the urban transformations of the present. To be an urbanist today means that one must also be a regionalist.
reer as a specialist on Africa, Dr. Soja has focused his research and writing over the past 20 years on urban restructuring in Los Angeles and more broadly on the critical study of cities and regions. In addition Dr. Soja continues to write on how social scientists and philosophers think about space and geography, especially in relation to how they think about time and history. This brief Text of a Special Lecture was reprinted in M.P.Smith (ed.) After Modernism: Global Restructuring and the Changing Boundaries of City Life (Transaction Books, 1992) and in L.Deben, W. Heinemejer, and D. van de Vaart (eds.), Understanding Amsterdam: Essays on Economic Vitality, City Life, and Urban Form (Het Spinhuis, 1993). 1
Excerpts from it appeared in I.Borden, J.Kerr, A.Pavaro, and J.Rendell (eds.) Strangely Familiar: Narratives of Architecture in the City (Routledge, 1996), in conjunction with a London exhibition with the same title as the book. There was a German translation in H.Hitz et al (eds.), Capitales Fatales Rotpunk, 1995) and for a conference in Amsterdam inquiring as to whether the Centrum should be declared a UNESCO heritage site (the consensus was no) I wrote “The Centrum Reminds Me…” for Leon Deben et al (eds.), Cultural Heritage and the Future of the Historic Inner City of Amsterdam (Aksant, 2004). The paper was also reprinted with revisions and extensions in E.Soja, Thirdspace: Journeys to Los Angeles and Other Real-and-Imagined Places (Blackwell, 1996).
Energy Scape Schieveense Polder
The peat polder as 21st century production landscape Nick Albers, Nirul Ramkisor, Linda Nijhof Minor Landscape Architecture
Production The landscape has been filled up with approximately 530 algae ponds. These algae are processed into bio-oil and other refined chemicals. Part of the processing is driven by the small wind turbines throughout the landscape. Every few days the ponds are harvested.
Landscape The polder landscape acquires the appearance of a modern production landscape combined with natural and landscape elements. In this way a very unique and sometimes surreal landscape is created.
Can Landscape Urbanism Help to Plan in ‘Territories-in-Between’ Alexander Wandl PhD Candidate Faculty of Architecture at TU Delft
Europe is an urbanized continent. It is largely made of “middle landscapes”, or "hybrid geographies". “Urban” areas can be found in rather rural landscapes (urban sprawl in major metropolis, large food processing districts, and clusters…), while “rural” areas can be found within urban environments. (Mcrit 2010)
Harmers (in Andexlinger 2005) calls these areas Shadowland. He sees them as areas forgotten and neglected by planners and policy makers. ‘Planners, designers and administrators often lack a sufficient insight into what goes on in areas that cannot be pinned down in conventional categories. They deny the conditions in which such areas emerged, …who is active in them….’. Similar conclusions to Harmer’s for the Dutch case, can be found across Europe. Despite the dominance in Europe of territories that blend both urban and rural characteristics, there is widespread agreement that public policy continues mainly to divide the world into simple ‘urban’ or ‘rural’ categories (Healy 2007; Haughton et al. 2009; Shane 2005; Weber 2010). In other words, the problem we are faced with is the struggle of planners and policy makers to understand and act in areas that are in a transitional state away from an urban rural dichotomy.
bureau, 2004), City Fringe (Louis, 1936), Città Diffusa (Secchi, 1997), territories of a new modernity (Viganò, 2001), Stadtlandschaft (Passarge, 1968), Shadowland (Hamers, 2005), Spread City (Webber, 1998) and Annähernd Perfekte Peripherie (Campi et al., 2000) are a selections of names given to this spatial phenomenon across Europe. All of this project have the understanding of the ‘urban landscape as a large interlocking system rather than as set of discrete cities surrounded by countryside’ (Bruegmann 2005) in common. This understanding comes often with giving a higher priority to landscape features than to the build environment in the process of planning and design. Which in my understanding is the simplest way of defining the concept of landscape urbanism.
Overcoming the urban rural dichotomy
Before investigating what the concept of landscape urbanism is and how it can contribute to reduce the above described struggle, I want to focus more on TiB. Three aspect were specifically striking for me after analysing TiB across Europe in the first year of my PhD. The first is the shear amount of territories-in-between in Europe. It is important to understand that they are not a marginal phenomenon, neither spatially nor concerning the amount of people living in and the land TiB are covering. The second is how divers TiB across Europe are, although having very similar spatial characteristics. The third is how little is known about the sustainability of these areas. Over the last decades, continuous urban expansion at rates much higher than population growth has resulted in a massive extension of the urban footprint on Europe. Kasanko et al. (2006) stated that ’in half of the studied cities over 90% of all new housing areas built after the mid-1950s are discontinuous urban developments. When putting these findings into the context of stable or decreasing urban population, it is clear that the structure of European cities has become
It is important to emphasise that these areas, which I call Territoriesin-between (TiB), cannot solely be explained as an intensiﬁcation of urban functions in the rural environment. TiB are areas where new functions, uses and lifestyles arise as a result of the on-going interaction of urban and rural elements (Garreau 1991; Viganò 2001; Sieverts & Bölling 2004). TiB have been described in Europe since nearly a century now, but they didn’t find their way into mainstream spatial planning and policies yet. Geographer Friedrich Leyden (Sieverts & Bölling 2004) stated as early as in 1933, that in Berlin the areas outside of the Berliner Ringbahn developed beyond a tangible spatial organisation. He describes the for TiB characterising intermingling of urban and rural land uses and lifestyles, of city and landscape. Nevertheless several projects and studies focused on TiB. Zwischenstadt (Sieverts, 2001), Tussenland (Frijters and Ruimtelijk Plan32
TIB across Europe
640 km 320 160
Figure 1: Discontinuous urban fabric (red) in relation to continuous urban fabric (black) (according to CORINE land cover data 2006) 0
in central and northern Europe, as one indication of the dispersal of urban development and therefore for the area and location of territories-in-between. (Authors own, data source: EEA)
less compact. In most cases it is mere a question of taste whether to call it urban sprawl or urban dispersion.’ His study reported on large and mid-size urban areas in Europe, but a quick glance at Figure 1, showing the relation of discontinuous to continuous urban areas in Europe, illustrates that dispersion took also place outside of these large urban areas and that it is actually a cross European phenomenon. One could concluded that the borders between city and country side blur (Figure 1).
types of urban development. Environmental policy for sustainability in sprawling areas of our city case studies was weak or non-existent.’ The next steps in my research are going to address this lack of knowledge further. Landscape urbanism is one of different ways of planning, which I have been investigating for this reason.
Figure 2 shows examples of TiB across Europe, although very different on first sight all of them show similar spatial properties:
The dissolving of city and landscape as well as the absence of nature in TiB brings the chance to go beyond a pastoral scenic understanding of landscape. Landscape is not defined by the absence of infrastructure, but could be seen as ‘a medium through which all ecological transactions must pass, it is the infrastructure of the future and therefore, of structural rather than (or as well as) scenic significance’ (Weller in Waldheim 2006:73). This way of understanding landscape is the basic fundament of landscape urbanism and a challenge for ’traditional’ spatial planning and policy making which often operates in an urban rural divide. Landscape Urbanism is a theory of urbanism that argues that the landscape, rather than buildings are more efficient to organize urban development. Landscape urbanism as a concept was primarily pushed forward by Charles Waldheim and colleagues at the department of Landscape Architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. They did so deliberately in opposition to New Urbanism. While in the States the conflict between Landscape Urbanism and New Urbanism was dominating, the discourse in Europe became more and more influential especially for regional planning and design over the last decades, often not labelled as landscape urbanism though.
Infrastructure in its furthest meaning is a dominant feature. Intensive intermingling of built and unbuilt, An accumulation of ‘big box’ uses like business parks, water treatment plants, shopping centres which are not fund in cites itself. A high spatial fragmentation of different uses and functions often as result of the intense infrastructure. Local and global orientated uses are often located next to each other but have hardly any relation with each other. TiB are often neglected in main stream planning an spatial policies. The discussion about the sustainability of dispersed urban development is often reduced to a comparison of the dense city versus sprawl. Where in general sprawl is often seen as less sustainable. This conclusion is often based on American studies. In one of the few European studies on urban sprawl, that go further than comparing land uses, Couch et al. (2007) came to the conclusion that, ‘maybe sprawl is not anything sustainable, but again, it is no more unsustainable than other
The contribution of Landscape urbanism to planning in Territories-in-between
Viganò (2011) emphasised two important aspects of landscape urbanism which enriched the debate about city and territory. ‘The first is … that it tackles and defines possible strategies when the conditions are such to raise doubts about existing design and planning tools.’ Which is as demonstrated above the case in TiB. The second ‘is the role of the open space in the construction of the contemporary city, … of a diffuse urban condition in which the void, in its various declinations …becomes part of the design of the new habitat.’ The dominant spatial characteristics of TiB is the intermingling of built and unbuilt therefore, starting from the void offers interesting aspects for planning in TiB. The term Landscape urbanism is very much related with the renewal of brownfield sites and attempts to an ecological recovery of waste lands. The most known examples so far concentrated on the large scale with so called ‘great projects’ which rose a certain attention and were not involved in the daily administrative routines. Having a closer look at some prominent examples like the International Bau Austellung (IBA) Emscherpark in the Ruhrgebiet or the Neue Donau - Donauinsel project in Vienna, allows to draw the conclusion that they are actually not big projects but ‘big plans’ respectively ‘big strategies’.
Figure 2. Impressions from TiB across Europe. (Source: Author’s own)
I want to emphasise the following five aspects: 1. Due to the size of the projects the had not only a high complexity concerning their design and construction but also concerning the political and governance process during their realisation. This led very often to new, respectively locally developed forms of participation and governance. Figure 3. Dounauinsel – Neue Donau before, small image, and after the realisation of
2. The projects were integrative by definition(see definition of landscape here above) and therefore, provided a framework on the one side for a general development goal but on the other hand for specific projects, which is one way of bridging the gap between planning and design.
the project. Planned as a ‘purely’ high water protection project in the 1960’s, public opposition lead in 1969 to an urban design competition. The result was not one winning project but a group of interdisciplinaary experts, which steered over two decades planning and realisation of the spatial development across disciplinary and administrative borders. Today the 21km long and 200m is one of Vienna’s most used leisure areas as well as import ecological corridor crossing the city. (Photos: Austria.lexikon.at)
3. Crossing (administrative) borders is an essential aspect of this projects which leads to a involvement of more and especially also nonpublic actors.
References Andexlinger, W., 2005. TirolCity, Vienna: Folio Verlag.
4. To understand landscape as infrastructure emphasise the importance of networks for urbanised areas as well the understanding that landscape has to be seen as a multifunctional serving several needs, ecological but also social and economic.
Bruegmann, R., 2005. Sprawl : a compact history, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Available at: http:// www.loc.gov/catdir/toc/ecip059/2005007591.html. Couch, C. eds., Leontidou, L. eds. & Gerhard, P.-H. eds., 2007. Urban sprawl in Europe: landscapes, land-use change & policy, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. Garreau, J., 1991. Edge City: Life on the New Frontier, Doubleday. Available at: http://www.amazon.com/ dp/0385424345. Haughton, G., Allmendinger, P. & Counsell, D., 2009. The New Spatial Planning, Taylor & Francis.
5. The projects contribute to the identity of former non places. These five aspect are in general important for regional planning and design, but specifically in Territories-in-Between, which are very fragmented in every sense. So an approach that manages to involve actors who don’t interact on a regular basis and that crosses borders is essential to achieve a more sustainable spatial development. Landscape features are often the only spatial structures that provide an identity generating character and are therefore, worthwhile as a starting point to engage people and develop a spatial strategy. This is even more true in times were public funding is scarce. 34
Healy, P., 2007. Urban complexity and spatial strategies: towards a relational planning for our times , London and New York: Routledge. Kasanko, M. et al., 2006. Are European cities becoming dispersed?: A comparative analysis of 15 European urban areas. Landscape and Urban Planning, 77(1-2), pp.111-130. Mcrit, 2010. Urban and rural narratives and spatial development, Barcelona. Sieverts, T. eds & Bölling, B. eds, 2004. Mitten am rand. auf dem weg von der vorstadt über die zwischenstadt zur regionalen stadtlandschaft t. Wuppertal: Verlag Müller + Busmann KG. Viganò, P., 2011. Introduction. In F. Viviana, S. Angelo, & V. Paola, eds. Landscapes of Urbanism. Vencia: IUAV Venezia, pp. 8-15. Viganò, P., 2001. Territori della nuova modernità Provincia di Lecce, Assessorato alla gestione territoriale: Piano territoriale di coordinamento = Territories of a new modernity, Napoli: Electa. Waldheim Editor, C., 2006. The Landscape Urbanism Reader, New York: Princeton Architectural Press. WEBER, G. 2010. Der Laendliche Raum - Mythen und Fakten. Landlicher Raum. available online: http:// www.laendlicher-raum.at/article/articleview/81710/1/14404. [Accessed 11-05-2010].
Approaching the Urban Demand
Interview with Hans de Jonge
Hans de Jonge is professor of Real Estate Management at the department of Real Estate & Housing which he co-founded in 1991. Prior to that a review committee installed by the Minister of Education visited the faculties of Architecture in Delft and Eindhoven and analysed their curricula. One of the conclusions was that the design oriented education at the faculty missed out on a clear need for professionals with a design background and orientation on the management aspects of real estate and construction. The faculty decided to start this and it proved to be successful: “Within five years’ time we became a brand in the market. There was a huge demand and in the third year of our existence we already enrolled more than 100 students” Twenty years later many alumni have found key positions in national and international organisations. Hans de Jonge gives us his view on education and explains the current state of affairs in the market. Critique on the design discipline
'From a faculty that teaches design I expect scientific research into the process of design: how do architects design, how do they make design decisions, what kind of strategies and examples are being used? What is the difference in the working methods of different designers? In the period I studied architecture at this school design methods, decision theory and computer aided design were taught. As Asimov stated: “design is making decisions in the face of uncertainty with a high penalty on errors”. There was a considerable body of knowledge that for some reason has disappeared in the later designs of the curriculum. Design is an activity based on several fields of science, but can be an object of scientific research itself. In my view we should direct part of our research effort in that direction. I very much like to be in-between two worlds: the science of (the process of) design and designing itself as craftsmanship. The process of urban design can be studied, by looking into human decision-making, effective group work, working in a multidisciplinary setting and so on. Much has been written about that. However, I find that students in our school are not confronted with that knowledge.' At the faculty much attention is devoted to design of new buildings and far too little to the stock and its dynamics. What you need to understand is that in The Netherlands we maximally add one
“...we maximally add one percentage to the stock annually and approximately ninety percent of all attention is devoted to this one percent” percentage to the stock annually and approximately ninety percent of all attention is devoted to this one percent. In most developed countries we find the same effect. Students are being taught how to design the new additions. I have compared it with a sink that is filled to the rim with water. The tap is slightly open, providing a small trickle of new buildings and the plug is slightly pulled out, providing a small demolition outflow. All the attention goes to that small trickle from the tap and nobody knows what’s going on in the sink. So that’s why we devote considerable attention to that at Real Estate & Housing. We teach students to think about project and process management on multiple levels.' Lessons for Education
'Another point of attention for design education is the lack of working in teams with an integral approach. It’s not real to think you will become an individually operating designer, rather you will have to be able to play your role very well within multi-disciplinary teams. This is how industrial designers are being trained, with the sense that they need to act on a bigger stage than their own discipline. They are able to explain the context and the process encompassing their product design. The same applies to designers in other engineering disciplines. Many students in our school are focussed on developing individual skills and that’s fine, but they have to be trained to work in teams as well. There are also people indicating that design is difficult enough and you shouldn’t ballast students extra: they need all the available time to become adequate designers. My question is: why is that not a problem at the school for Industrial Design?' 'When you finish this school you should have knowledge of all three domains: design, technology and management. So, when specialising in design in the Master it is still vital to know about technical and management aspects. Nowadays, we try to show students how this thinking in terms of total stock works. In what way does an investor or a developer think, since those are the people you will need to deal with. If an urban designer explains his plan at a municipality, then you have to realise that 70 to 80% of the plan will have to be realised by private funding. If you don’t know how these parties think you will make the wrong solutions.'
Should education be more practice-based? 'That is a difficult question. First of all we are not a school of higher vocational education, we are a university. Vocational training focuses on know-how whereas universities should also be occupied with knowwhy. Here you need to learn to think scientifically, critically and analytically. You need to understand why certain things are asked for. It is not about ‘cut and paste solutions’, but about sharp critical thinking. That is the only way we are able to innovate and change existing practices. At the same time practice asks for people who are employable the day
after they are finished. That is not very realistic and a lot of companies understand that and will start to give you additional experience training. I would give preference to a curriculum that would ‘sandwich’ theory and practice, but I realise that that is difficult to realise in the current system where speed is an important criterion. We have to realise that professionals will have to learn constantly during their working life, so many of you will come back to follow post-experience education in tailor made modules. That will be an important market for universities in the future. An example of this is the two year post-experience course Master City Developer that we started ten years ago together with Erasmus University and the City of Rotterdam. Every year 25 key professionals from different walks of life work and learn together how to cope with the new challenges of city development (www.mastercitydeveloper.nl). Practitioners and theoreticians work hand in hand as teachers in a case based curriculum.' The System
For a while the rumour in the hall has been: designers cannot solve the vacancy problem, but people from Real Estate do not have the answer either. 'The problem is a direct consequence of our capitalistic system. What happened is that money became too cheap and easy to get. In other words, a financial fiscal system arose which caused this misery. There was an enormous amount of cheap money available and therefore, the alderman wanted to build, the city wanted to make profit on land development, the developer wanted to develop, the contractor wished to build, the investor needed an investment, and so on. There was no natural brake in this system. This generated a supply-led market and consequently overproduction. When you are in a growth situation development is relatively simple. You develop a building on a piece of land and contract a tenant. Based on that plan and the lease contract you approach an institutional investor in search of investment volume and the value of your proposition could be multiplied by a factor eight to twelve. You can imagine what developers earned in those days.' 'Already in 1994 Real Estate & Housing built large models to predict the future of the office stock and based on these models we concluded: we have enough in quantity, but a mismatch in quality. If you want to build a new office building, you need to demolish an old one. Back then there was a crisis too and everybody believed what we said, leading to the same discussions as today (for instance a national sanitation fund for offices was discussed as is the case today). Then the dot-com bubble came and employment and demand for offices skyrocketed. Immediately everybody stated that we were all wrong and didn’t understand the system and of course they were right that we had not correctly predicted the bubble. It is very difficult to model such developments. Just as the Club of Rome was wrong and the CPB pre-
“Still some urban designers like to plan where people should live by means of a couple of pencil strokes. That’s not how it works.” dictions are often off. The rest is history: we are now facing overproduction and vacancy in the office market. We were asked by the Minister of Planning to help all parties find solutions and we will come with results in a few weeks’ time. In the meantime transformation of existing offices has always been an important issue in our research program.'
there is no room for growth. Florida shows how each crisis forms the starting point for new innovations. On the ashes of the old system a new one will arise instigated by new technologies. I’m sure this is going to happen with this crisis in exactly the same way. You can see the new seedlings coming up already.'
'Another problem has to do with the adaptability of offices: given what conditions are we able to transform offices? One of my colleagues (Hilde Remøy) did her PhD on this topic. Our problem is that we have to deal with the CIAM-legacy, which sought functional segregation based on the problems of dense and unhealthy cities of around 1900. So if the owner is prepared to write off his building (which is necessary to realise affordable housing there), still nobody wants to live in a monofunctional area without social services. That’s why the municipality of Amsterdam says: yes, we are in favour of transformation of offices, but no, we won’t allow offices to be transformed there. Moreover, estimates indicate that only twenty percent of all vacant offices can be transformed, whereas the rest needs to be demolished.'
'From the moment I started here at Delft more than 20 years ago, I stated that we should know much more about the demand and the stock in the real estate world. For instance, when looking at demographical data everybody can understand that an ageing population requires healthcare, different housing types, more urban and dense living instead of living in the green periphery. The pressure on services increases and for services you will need a certain density in order to maintain them. If the population is sprinkled over the countryside as if it were confetti, the system will be very expensive to run. Decision makers seem to get this and state that we should densify and plead for concentrated living. But then you have market researchers stating that consumers like to live outside the city in the green countryside, in VINEX and not at all in the inner city terrace house. Then you have a problem. There was the policy to draw red contour lines in order to restrict construction in green areas, but the consumer votes with his feet.' 'The question is: how can you design products in such a way to seduce the consumer to choose for interesting dense solutions in an urban context? Exactly the question industrial designers deal with: how can we influence the behaviour of the consumer? Still some urban designers like to plan where people should live by means of a couple of pencil strokes. That’s not how it works, it is all about seducing consumers to adopt concepts which in the long run are good for us all. For developers the long term might not be that interesting, but for investors long term values are very important. So the system needs to be adapted and in order to build a dense, durable city you need to know how these economic principles work. We need to know what exactly the demand is and how it develops. First understand the problem and the demand, then find the principles of a solution and only then begin designing it. Until now this is being done insufficiently. If in the past we would have analysed the demand more careful we wouldn’t have had an unaffordable infrastructure and we wouldn’t have had a housing stock which is a mismatch with what is needed.'
'So the problem comes down to a vacancy of 7.5 million square meters from the total office stock of 50 million square meters, of which 3.5 million square meters are structurally vacant (empty for more than three years). If we do not change policy, these rates will double and the biggest societal problem is that the money invested in these buildings comes from our pension funds. So there are a lot of architects and consultants saying that pension funds should write off these buildings (so they can be transformed) until I make them clear that their future pension is involved too. Understanding this system is a complex task. So, a challenging task lies ahead of you, the future urban designers. Don’t think you have to go to China to do interesting work, there are enough interesting problems right here.' 'For the housing market the same type of mechanisms were present. Even people below thirty were able to buy a house of a few hundred thousand Euros based on their double income. Before, people used to work until they had acquired thirty per cent of the necessary capital to buy a house, borrow the rest from the bank and redeem the debt as soon as possible in a linear way. Interest-only mortgages were not available. Here too the fiscal system and the availability of money have created a price bubble.' 'The past few years we have witnessed that the real estate sector has spun out of control. Somebody has to pay the price for that and deciding who is a particular big problem.' 'Do you know the recent book by Richard Florida, “The great reset”? In it he states more or less the same as an old economist, Kondratiev who spoke of economical cycles of seventy years: there cannot be only growth, the balloon needs to be deflated every now and then otherwise
'I find it incomprehensible that we don’t work together on society’s most urgent problems in multi-disciplinary settings, with civil engineers, with industrial designers, with physicists. Our society is neatly segmented, following the old Cartesian philosophy of science. Knowing increasingly more of increasingly less seems to be the mantra. But evidently society has already arrived at a turning point, with people being more interested in solving integrated societal problems. Societal issues do not care about specialism: if you want to solve a problem, then you have to do it together with colleagues.' JAN BREUKELMAN & JAN WILBERS
Land- ‘scape’ / Land- ‘space’ Pedantic, Semantic or just Anagrammatic Jason King
A major issue that surrounds the debate around the various ‘urbanisms’ can be traced to a lack of basic agreement on the meaning of certain key terms. In a recent dialogue in a class on landscape urbanism, we discussed the preconceptions of what comes up when you mention the word ‘landscape’. Answers varied widely, all of them correct to a degree, including: “a large area; urban and rural space; plazas and fountain; natural areas; sculpted, designed outdoor space; natural green spaces; native plantings; exterior environment.” So how do we come to consensus on any meaning when we start from such as broad starting line? Are discussions aimed at clarification and elaboration of terms, such as ‘scape’ and ‘space’, both historically or etymologically, pedantically mired in minutiae? Or is it just plain semantics? Or, is it maybe something even more frivolous, a mere study in basic ‘anagrams’ and nothing more? Or is this a missing piece that might change some of the conversations from the binary and the divisive to something a bit more constructive? We need a true understanding of words and terms, not as marketing slogans or useful branding memes, but as important elements in developing and galvanizing our shared understanding of the contemporary metropolis. In this context, one of the biggest challenges to landscape urbanism theory and the validity of its argument is the choice of ‘landscape’ as the major adjectival modifier. The breadth of potential meaning and vast range of historical changes in the usage of the word has plagued landscape architecture, and has now summarily been shifted to this new theoretical position. The shift from ‘picturesque’ views of artistic
Figure 1. Green Networks in Olmsted Bros planning - image via Heaviest Corner
nature related to scenery to a more expansive, working view of regional landforms and ‘territory’ is derived from competing views of the historical ‘landskip’ and ‘landschaft’ as both a scenic view and a unit of human occupation. (for more on this topic, see essays in Corner, 1999) As J.B. Jackson, the influential scholar of cultural landscape studies, mentions in a brief but brilliant essay, ‘The Word Itself’, this conflation of the two terms ‘land’ and ‘scape’ into ‘a collection of lands’ means the original nuances of the different scenic/working definition were lost along the way. As he describes further: “the formula landscape as a composition of man-made spaces on the land... says that a landscape is not a natural feature of the environment by a synthetic space, a man-made system of spaces superimposed on the land, functioning and evolving not according to natural laws but to serve a community, ” Jackson simplifies the definition of ‘landscape’ as: “...a composition of man-made or man-modified spaces to serve as infrastructure or background for our collective existence.” (Jackson, 1984) Thus the equation of ‘scape’ becomes closely aligned to ‘space’ in this definition – which is referenced in the title of this essay. Just glancing at the words themselves, one sees that they share the same core elements (as an anagram) with just a shift here or there to make them somewhat interchangeable but slightly different. In this
“...no discussion or argument (binary or otherwise) is worth much if it is happening around vague language...” alignment visually and in contextual defintion, land - ‘scape’ can be synonymous with land - ‘space’, which gives us a much wider conceptualization in which to place landscape urbanism and not mere nature or greenery, but as the fabric of non-building exterior environments, better known as ‘context’.
Jason A. King is a landscape architect, educator, and writer from Portland, Oregon. He is Principal of TERRA.fluxus, a firm specializing in urban design ecology, and co-founder of the non-profit group
‘Urbanism’ is another concept that has a lot of varied meanings, and seems to have become a default term for any method or study. First coined in 1889, it has evolved to include town planning, but more commonly has been a term of study of cities. I have argued for a need to resituate the term ‘urbanism’ in a more specific terminology that differentiates theory versus practice. As derived from the etymology of the term, most definitions describe urbanism along the lines of ‘the study of the city and its people, their ways of life, and their innate needs’ which implies a specifically observatory frame.
THINK.urban, a research collective devoted to bridging the gap between academia and practice in urban design. He is also currently getting his PhD in Urban Studies from Portland State University, where he focuses on contemporary topics in urbanism. His work and words have been featured in a number of publications, and he can be regularly followed on his
The prevalence of the term as a contemporary urban modifier has recently exploded (Barnett, 2011). , and has further muddied the water in terms of the distinction between operative and exploratory modes of inquiry. For this essay, I have chosen a definition from the Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics, which describes the term: “Urbanism suggests an approach which comprehends the city as a whole and contains a theory which seeks to explain urban relations.” (McLean & McMillan, 2009)
blog Landscape + Urbanism. You may reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
This relates specifically to the earlier conception of ‘context’, and with this definition and shared understanding of terms we can obtain some room to maneuver. Specifically, this distinctly removes design and planning from the equation. As a practicing landscape architect and urban planner, this does not to me mean that those operational activities are any less vital. It does, however, privilege a notion of urbanism as a method of study instead of a method of design or implementation. This provides clarity in terms of our understanding phenomena on their own merits, not merely in terms of fodder for generation of solutions. Thus study equates to urbanism (of which there can be many types of study), and practice equates to disciplinary modes and interdisciplinary contexts, such as urban design, architecture, landscape architecture and planning (of which there can be many types of solution). The distinction allows us to avoid binary argument because there are infinite types of study and methods of solving problems – each driven by the unique context. Dialogue and critique can still operate – but there will more transparency and it won’t be summed in an either/or proposition. The complexity of urban areas in our contemporary world is too immense for only one of two solutions. In the end, no discussion or argument (binary or otherwise) is worth much if it is happening around vague language, particularly when using terms that are loaded with cultural baggage like urbanism and landscape. This also holds true for terms that are unspecific, like sustainable or new, or those that have a changing definition dependent on context tactical or ecological. It is only with some sort of shared academic and practical understanding can we at least speak intelligently with respect to the issues of what we mean we say landscape and urbanism. Some will dismiss it as semantics, or diminish the entire argument as pedantic. But language is, and will continue to be, important to clear and respectful dialogue. The equation of urbanism with study and not practice is one place to start. The conflation with ‘scape’ and ‘space’ in an attempt to jog us out of the picturesque romanticism of the word landscape is yet another. The resulting focus on ‘context’ and ‘urbanism’ which is loosely defined as ‘study of exterior spaces in the city’ maybe doesn’t have the marketing cache as landscape urbanism or new urbanism. But it is definitely a much clearer starting point for discussion. Sources Barnett, J. (2011). A Short Guide to 60 of the Newest Urbanisms. Journal of the American Planning Association, 77(4), 19-21. Corner, J. (Ed.). (1999). Recovering Landscape: Essays in Contemporary Landscape Architecture. New York: Princeton Architectural Press. Jackson, J. B. (1984). The Word Itself. Discovering the Vernacular Landscape (pp. 1-8). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. McLean, I., & McMillan, A. (Eds.). (2009). The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics. Oxford UK: Oxford University Press.
Unsettling topographies About ten years ago, frustrated with paint and brushes, Matthew Cusick just started experimenting with some maps he had laying around his studio. â€œI found that maps have all the properties of a brushstroke: nuance, density, line, movement, and color. Their palette is deliberate and
Three Horses, 2011, Inlaid maps, acrylic, on panel, 48 x 192 inches
Many Rivers, 2009. Inlaid maps, acrylic, on panel. 48 x 78 inches
symbolic, acting as a cognitive mechanism to help us internalize the external. And furthermore, since each map fragment is an index of a specific place and time, I could combine fragments from different maps and construct geographical timelines within my paintings.â€? All images copyright Matthew Cusick - www.mattcusick.com
Chasing the Dragon, 2006. Inlaid maps, acrylic, on panel. 40 x 64 inches
Course of Empire (Mixmaster 1), 2003. Inlaid maps, acrylic, on panel. 30 x 42 inches
(In)significance of Architecture Interview with Mitesh Dixit
Mitesh Dixit’s involvement with the Vertical Cities Asia studio happened as a complete
Name: Mitesh Dixit
coincidence. After seeing a poster for VCA within the Materialisation department, he
Birth Date: January 04, 1975
simply emailed Kees Kaan: “Hey, my name is Mitesh Dixit, I’m a project leader at OMA
Birth Place: Chicago, Illinois
and my expertise in the last 6-7 years has been tall building, urbanization and mas-
Place(s) of Residence: Delhi, Chicago, Cincinnati,
terplanning in Asia. If you ever need a critic, I’m more than welcome to.” In turn, Kees
Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, St. Louis,
replied the next day: “would you like to teach the studio?”.
Tampa, Helsinki, Barcelona, Beijing, Copenhagen. London, Rotterdam
With great enthusiasm and unconventional approaches, he ran the studio like the com-
Languages: English, Spanish, Hindi, Urdu, Latin
petition studios he would lead at OMA. After the success of the first one – a second
Education: Masters in Architecture, Bachelor of Sci-
prize was awarded for one of the three Delft teams – Mitesh will lead another VCA studio
ence in Philosophy and Bachelor of Science in Politics,
in the coming spring semester.
graduate work in Philosophy. Offices worked at: SOM and OMA
Through his experience in both the professional and the academic environment (as both
Countries worked in: too many to list
teacher and student), Mitesh provides us with an interesting perspective on architecture
Schools taught at: University of South Florida, Wash-
and urban planning.
ington University and TU Delft
Recently you have become officially TEACHER in Delft…
What is your perception of a ‘good’ tutor? 'I think a good tutor should have a plan, a system. The student learns your system and it is up to them to reject, respond or to accept it. But you should have something for the student to respond to, either positively or negatively. A tutor should be really structured.'
You have once pointed out the importance of taste. What is your definition of ‘good taste’? And how does one develop ‘good taste’? 'I think some people inherently have taste. You can develop taste, but you have to be open to it. I think taste can be developed by consuming ideas, culture, resources etc. So when you make a decision that seems to stem from subjective taste, it’s actually derived from something deeper than that. I would never get up in front of a client – ok sometimes I do – and say: “I like this, because it looks good.” Because then, you are done, you can’t win the argument anymore.'
Do you think it’s an active process? Or do you think it happens by itself? 'It should happen by itself. I’m wary of things that are done for a purpose. I’m wary for someone who travels to become better. I know that’s why people do it, but somehow you should enjoy. When I went to Barcelona, I just wanted to have fun and while I was there I saw La Sagrada Familia and de Solà-Morales’ work and so on.' Is there some kind of ‘generation gap’ noticeable between the younger generation of architects – the recently graduated – and the Old Guard, for example Koolhaas, Rossi, Siza?
'When I look at Rem’s thesis from the AA, there was no concern of having criteria for graduation; it was about the idea and about intelligence. I think the current generation right now is too focused on success. Great architects did not give a damn about their career. Their career was a byproduct of their work. Now everyone wants to be Bjarke. Nowhere in that whole process was it about work, or about actually making the world better. They’ll say it as a marketing trick. But no one has a manifesto on architecture anymore; their manifesto now is success.'
there were moments when I really was this close to dropping out and I called my brother. I was like: “I’m going to drop out, I’m leaving architecture school, I just can’t do this”. He said: “just do it, don’t let them beat you. Finish it and then quit, but don’t quit before.” So I stayed and failed a couple studios in the process, but I got out.' Now being a PROFFESIONAL…
How did your design attitude evolve throughout your career: from student, to junior architect to senior architect?
Back when you were a STUDENT…
What were your ambitions? 'I never really wanted to be an architect. I really liked philosophy and politics and I liked the urban condition. But when I studied philosophy and politics I didn’t think anything I would do, would make a difference. So the only way I could make a difference is architecture. I have direct control over it.'
But also, what were your leading disappointments and fears? 'Well, the fear of just not being creative, because I thought I couldn’t draw as well as everyone else, that meant I’m not creative. I never had the best drawings, the best models – I might have the best diagrams, or the best narrative. The problem was I worked that way, but my school was really a formal school. It wasn’t until I discovered really OMA in-depth, read more about Rem and after I met people, that I was like: “Oh, wait I can do this, this is actually the way I want to go".'
'I went to SOM after graduating. I didn’t go to 'a design office', because I needed to develop professional skills. I think if I went to a design culture office I’ll reinforce bad tendencies that I already had as student. I had to develop those habits, the good strong professional habits. The main reason that I left SOM, for the first time ever in my life I was making decisions based on my career and not based on my development as a person. That’s the key, I never developed myself as an architect, but I developed myself as a human being. You have never to divide yourself, you are a person and the person will be a better architect, but if you want to be a better architect you are already margining it. You do things to be a better being!'
Do others, that is, friends, fellow architects, role models, have influence on your work? 'I am sort of very competitive – no I’m extremely competitive [laughs]. When I was younger I would pick a person that I thought was better than me and I would try to be better than him. Basically, I’m a collage of everyone I’ve met.'
What is your best decision you took as a student?
Do you also clearly consult friends or colleagues?
'I traveled and left school. I spent a year in Helsinki and 6 months in Barcelona. I traveled around and I met some good people. Afterwards,
'Yes, I constantly ask people “what do you think?”. I think with all designers, all architects – everyone who ‘makes’ – there is a tremendous amount of
Figure 1. Model of Taipei Performing Arts Center, OMA
Figure 2. Model of Taipei Performing Arts Center, OMA
insecurity. That makes us good. It’s very ignorant to think of yourself as a character, so detached from everyone else, you also have to be strong enough to make a decision where everybody else cannot. That’s the key.
Listen to people, make a decision, stand up in the room in front of the client and make that decision. Of course, I did make a huge amount of mistakes, but I’m okay now.'
Of all projects, which one has given you the most satisfaction? 'Taipei Performing Arts Center! I don’t even have to think about this question. It’s intelligent. It’s sensitive. It’s thoughtful.
What is your dream commission? 'I don’t want dream commissions anymore. I want these banal, everyday projects. I want to do a kindergarten or a school with a low budget. I have to leave the cushy lifestyle, go back to more regional, simpler kind 44
of work. I really want to work on a much smaller scale with smaller teams and less consultants. Architecture is less of a tool of containment, but should be more of a tool of the community. It should be used to prevent harm and start the process of healing. That’s more interesting, rather than the question which illumine will be used. I want to make difference on a small scale and not to publish or talk about it; just do the work and never been known. This whole fame thing is just annoying.'
Projects of OMA suggest a rational and systematic design process, but above all, a linear process. Is this a truthful representation or are these processes equally subjected to intuition and free interpretation?
…and becoming a VISIONARY…
'It really changes from person to person. I know, let’s say at BIG, it’s a real formal thing. They post-rationalize it so it becomes a stepby-step thing. They are not simplifying the process; it’s just that simple. I think at OMA some projects are honest, others are not. It really depends on the project leader.
Do you think the architectural discourse is getting away from the object?
How do you think you will evolve in the (near) future?
'I think so slightly, because everybody talks about building, building, building. Every school talks about building. I don’t know, the building is nowadays getting much more complicated than it has been 20-30 years ago. There are so many different specialists; what the hell is the architect still doing?'
'At some point I need to end up in Los Angeles, I want a convertible Mustang and dogs! [Laughs]. But before that, I really want to continue in Delft, it’s a really amazing experience. And I want to put wheels in motion for my own office. You should leave before the party is over!' DRAZEN KRICKOVIC AND XIN DOGTEROM
Polis activities in 2011 jorick beijer
2011 has been a fruitful year for Polis. Without feeling any constraints the board and the very active committees started to organize a series of great events. Some as addition to the MSc curriculum, some to facilitate social contact between students and others to re-link study and practice. The common thread? A passion for urbanism!
EXCURSION MAASTRICHT & LIEGE Karien Hofhuis
Maastricht/Liege 23-34 November This past November, the Polis excursion team organized a trip to Maastricht and Liege spanning two days. A group of 14 students, two vehicles, two Walky talkies, and two GPS systems set out to navigate their way to Maastricht. The group arrived to a lecture concerning the developments of the A2 highway, and then proceeded to arrive at the hostel via this A2 highway. The rest of the afternoon was spent discovering different parts of the city, ending with drinks and dinner in the city center. Polis already had some connections in Liege, whom helped greatly in organ-
izing a fun three hour program for the group. We were very warmly received by students from the local university at the Train station of Liege designed by Santiago Calatrava. After a guided tour and some discussion, the students recognized the grandeur of the building did not match the scale of the city, regardless of its impressive architectural form. The tour continued with a visit to the university, a local student bar, and walk around the city. The industrial disorganized, but still intriguing image of Liege was a great pairing with the very opposing Maastricht the students visited on the previous day.
"It was interesting to learn more about the companies that were involved and their considerations in this large scale project." Thomas Verhoeven
Participant Excursion 'After a long drive we arrived in Maastricht. The first thing planned was a lecture about the future plans to get the A2 underground. It was interesting to learn more about the companies that were involved and their considerations in this large scale project. Especially the cooperation between the different actors was enlightening. In Maastricht we visited different new urban areas along the Maas. I find it interesting how the architecture and urbanism relates. The Mosae project of Coenen and the Ceramique centre are interesting examples. After this tour we went to the historic center for pizza and beers and stayed out till the early hours. The second day we went to Liege. The students of their university gave us a warm welcome and showed us the enormous development of the new central station of Calatrava. With the tour over the former city wall we had a good city overview. It is an interesting city with a lot of potential where old and new projects confront each other. After a good lunch at the Liege University we returned to Delft. It was an interesting and fun excursion!' 46
Past, Present and Future landscape in Asia
Interview with Jonghyun Choi
To broaden our views of the Asian landscape, for this urban landscape issue Atlantis inter-
Jonghyun Choi is the chief of Tongui research center
viewed Professor Jonghyun Choi. In his view, the urbanist should understand how the city
for urban studies, where he focuses on urban history
relates to human life. We asked him to compare the Asian view of nature with Europe's and
based on his architecture and landscape background.
whether Western and Eastern cultures really confront each other in terms of urban landscape.
He recently wrote a book on the history of Korean architecture, landscape and city, which is the result of his
Are the Western and Eastern views on nature fundamentally different?
fieldwork and research for last 40 years. He is also the ex-professor at Hanyang University and ex-chief of the
'People say that there is an obvious difference. The Western view is generally explained as a confrontation with nature while the East prefers harmony with it. However, I think that it stems from a dichotomous way of thinking about these two cultures. People have tried to explain everything in terms of this dualism.'
Korean Urban Design Institute.
'Practically, they both share a common thread in history in that each culture needs to consider how to survive in nature. I can say that the West and the East have similar views on nature and this has brought similar patterns on siting. Regardless where or when people are from, the fact remains that they struggle to survive in nature. This idea is the most common and basic starting point of landscape and urbanism. The only differences are the basic strategies and skills needed to survive in the given situation and context. It is this that causes each culture to diverge and develop its own unique view on landscape, climate, technology, lifestyle and so on. In this context it does not make sense to simply say that Eastern and Western views of nature are totally different or conflicting. This is just a superficial perception.'
So, the West and East have something fundamentally common on their views of nature. How then has Asia developed its own unique, traditional strategies and skills for the city, garden and architecture? 'It is not easy to make a definitive answer to this question because the notion of ‘traditional’ varies depending on historical and local context. Generally speaking, many cities throughout the world are located in close proximity to water, not only for drinking, agriculture and fishing, but also for its advantages for trade and transportation. In Asia, especially historical areas, the basic principal for siting a city is to face towards water with hills behind. Another strategy is to manipulate the landscape artificially to create a mound on a site that has no hill. This is a unique aspect of traditional Chinese culture.' 'However, there are some exceptions. For instance, most Korean cities during the 4th to 7th
“Regardless where or when people are from, the fact remains that they struggle to survive in nature.” 47
â€œEurope experienced the most flourishing period in history while China was in its most stagnant state...â€? century were located inland, not close to the water, for defensive reasons against China. Many Korean cities, except for a few like Pyongyang, are built in a basin surrounded by mountains and hills. Because the nature here is fundamentally different compared to the typical Chinese landscape, there is a unique method to define location in consideration of locality. The location of a city was determined by the imaginary axes connecting the summits of mountains and hills. It seems that this principle was adopted in order for the city to form an existential relationship with its surroundings. Some people insist that Feng Sui is one of the most critical factors to decide the location of a city or building in Chinese culture. However, we as urbanists should try to explain it in terms of physical factors and reason.' 'For the siting of traditional architecture, the axis of the main building has a repetitive sequence of buildings and yards. It is quite
similar with the sequence of ancient Egyptian architecture. But the former is additionally characterised by the involvement of the surroundings into the siting and constitution of the buildings. In the case of ancient Egypt, it seems it was impossible to use their environment as it was just barren desert. In short, traditional architecture in Asia is characterised by the sequential condition and an integration with surrounding nature.' 'China, Korea and Japan in Chinese culture all have a distinct character in the design of their traditional gardens. Representation of nature is a common issue in both Eastern and Western culture. In China, nature was represented artificially on a huge scale based on their flourishing economic power and workforce. They represented natural elements such as mountains and lakes in huge scales. Typical Japanese traditional gardens were distinct for their speculative awareness and approach.
Figure 2. Views of Seoul in 1928 and 2000 (source: Seoul museum of history)ë‚´
On the other hand, Korea had a rather weak economical situation and so the scale of work was limited. That is why the surrounding scenery was integrated as an element of garden beyond its territory. This becomes the background of the garden which can be appreciated from small properties. Chinese gardens also occasionally engage with their surroundings, but it is rare.' 'The interesting point of Chinese gardens is that they are made in a very artificial way and on a huge scale. In other words, it is a challenge against nature and a very artificial intervention.'
In comparison between the West and the East, Asia seems to have lost its value of nature rather than Europe nowadays. What made this happen? 'Let me explain some aspects of the urban history of the world first to clarify what
Figure 1. painting on the siting of traditional architecture in Korea by author
marks the gap between these two cultures. I think that the period from the 13th to 14th century is the crucial turning point in urban world history. During this time, a warming of the climate made agriculture in Northern Europe (the Benelux countries) possible, and it drove population growth and trade. Theocracy and sovereign power were also separated at this time while science and technology progressed at a terrific rate. Based on these advances, Europe experienced the most flourishing period in history while China was in its most stagnant state through the Ming and Qing Dynasty. Even though the Qing Dynasty attempted to change, Asia was already behind Europe when it had passed the period of the Renaissance and in to the Baroque. While the Ming and Qing Dynasty were inward-looking and exclusive (tendencies that caused Asia's stagnancy), Europe experienced a highly diverse situation. These different attitudes of two world stimulated a
huge gap between West and East.' 'Based on the progress through this period, the West has developed the technology and power to deal with nature step by step. However it seems that Asia has lost their sense of value of the landscape through its rapid urbanisation with little thought of the consequences. In the case of Europe, they are trying to preserve and manage at least their own territory.'
Asia seems not to have advanced its own traditional views on nature. What is necessary for the future Asian landscape? 'We need to broaden our view not only in Asia - it is a global issue now. Above all, we should understand our environment in depth by investigation and through scientific research to find a way to work with nature. We need to think and act on a global scale while implementing diverse, specific treatments on the small scale.'
Multitalented City Justina Muliuolyte, Tadas Jonauskis & Lukas Rekevicius
Europan 11 Winner in Reims
Multitalented city is the proposal for an old modernistic university campus on the edge of Reims in France. This introverted and disconnected campus with large open spaces is isolated from its surroundings. The project proposes to transform the campus into a district able to sustain by its own. The new district will produce and consume its energy and will be flexible and able to adapt to environmental, societal and economic changes. Backbones of the project are the five distinctive squares which are connected by routes into a network of continuous public space. The consistent structure of public space brings clarity and spatial organization into the site. The five squares guide users through the sequence of unique places. The squares create a continuous network of places and new stopovers linking peri-urban landscape in the north to the green/ blue belt of the city centre in the south. Different program clusters are created around the squares. They are filled with matching typology, scale and function to strengthen character of the square. All these functions are linked by an effective
Figure 1. Showcase square clusters moste innovative functions.
mobility system. Creating conditions to use sustainable forms of transport is an important objective of the strategy. Bicycle and pedestrian routes are main tools to link the squares with each other and with the immediate surroundings. Public transport is spatially embedded into the squares, linking the site with the city and the region. Together with a diverse program and efficient mobility, the balanced public space structure creates a new multitalented identity of the old university campus. The district becomes a pilot project for a dynamic, flexible and sustainable future city.
Jury Assesment The project has a great conceptual and programmatic clarity. The jury appreciated qualities of this project as it seeks to define new urban forms and programs in the form of the squares. New ways of life are interestingly integrated in the plan. Both size and scale of the proposed public spaces are fortes of the project. The project is both realistic and highly original.
Figure 2. Different patches.
Future landscapes Interview with Geoff Manaugh
Geoff Manaugh exploring the undergrounds in Australia (photo by Nicola Twilley)
Climatological urbanism, geological medievalism, rural mobile cinemas, a chance encounter between Archigram’s Walking City and a giant hog in a cornfield, intelligent geo-textiles and an oil pump synagogue…Atlantis takes a peek in to the magic wardrobe of BLDGBLOG visionary Geoff Manaugh.
What is your raison d’être for writing BLDGBLOG? 'There is an aspect to the blog that is about exploring things that are of personal interest and sharing them with people online. However the overarching reason that I started the blog is to bring outside influences in to the architectural and urbanism conversation in order to go beyond the same, tired discussions that revolve around a core group of historical figures and canonical texts. It is to remind architects that there are exciting spatial ideas coming from different fields, whether that is astronomy, geology or the policing of the city, and also to let people from industries like video games, fiction and movie production know that there are equally fascinating ideas coming out of architecture that they could pick up on. If more of these people knew about each other’s work I am optimistic that there could be some fruitful collaborations in the future.'
On BLDGBLOG, several landscape themes recur frequently, such as manufactured landscapes and weather manipulation. Are these purely speculative or do you anticipate them becoming reality? 'It is both. I have a pretty extended view of what landscape is and sometimes joke that what I am really interested in is ‘spatial anthropology’. This is the way that humans create, understand, describe, represent and inhabit different spatial environments. So it is not just about covering a new park in Amsterdam or a new way of designing city streets, but covering landscape from a really broad perspective. As for topics such as manufactured landscapes and weather manipulation, they are already happening. There are intensely artificial landscapes being made, whether it is using geo-textiles to create levee systems, or for that matter, artificially drying a flood plain to make a nation such as the Netherlands. The Mississippi river is another example. It meanders over a broad stretch of land and is held in place by a series of dams, locks and levies that are maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers, forming an enormous artificial structure. Even parts of Manhattan Island in New York City are built from the war ruins of WWII England that were sent over to the States as ballast. It goes to show that it does not take science fiction to have an artificial terrain. With regards to weather manipulation, there is the fantasy of perfect weather control, but in my opinion that does not seem to ever happen. Subtle manipulation of weather already exists, though; it just tends to be unexpected or indirect. Something as minor as the urban heat island effect is a form of this. The funny thing is, if we want to manipulate the weather, the easiest thing to do would be to turn off the technology we already have. So you notice that whenever Beijing institutes a driving ban or when the aeroplanes were all grounded after 9/11, there is an instant and immediately recognisable effect on the weather. I think it is interesting—and also somewhat
Geoff Manaugh is the author of the seminal architectural website BLDGBLOG and its corresponding book, The BLDGBLOG Book that plumb the depths of “architectural conjecture, urban speculation” and “landscape futures”. He is a professor of architecture at Columbia University and co-director of Studio-X NYC together with Nicola Twilley. He also curated the exhibition Landscape Futures at the Nevada Museum of Art.
“...the goal for designers is to figure out how to design less static and more dynamic human environments.”
Figure 1. Artificial earthforms and debris basins built on the edge of Los Angeles to capture loose rocks and boulders.
frightening—to imagine a scenario where weather becomes a platform for urban design. In a future city, for instance, rain could be prevented from falling in the summer and more snow falling in the winter. Collaborations would be made between climatologists and urbanists.'
What were the ambitions for your landscape futures workshop? 'We brought students from the Bartlett and Columbia University together with members of the Arid Lands Institute to study the landscape of Los Angeles. We looked at everything from the way water gets in to the city through aqueducts to the mountains on the periphery. A lot of people forget that Los Angeles is a mountain city. The mountains are eroding rapidly and a whole series of typologies of empty reservoirs have been devised to capture the debris that washes off of the mountains after severe storms. They remind me of the diagrams of medieval star forts that were designed to allow archers to attack the enemy while preventing the enemy from breaching the castle walls. It is almost as if Los Angeles is a geological star fort surrounded by these geometrical shapes; a kind of geological medievalism that allows Los Angeles to protect itself from avalanches and landslides. LA is also an active oil field, so we looked at the way in which this shapeless, ancient, black substance that we call oil moves beneath the city. Where it can be found, how it articulates on to the surface of the city and also what it allows, which is the automotive culture of LA in general. We looked at the city’s oil pumps, many of which have their own architecture because they are disguised to look like other types of structures such as water towers. However, there is a very famous one that is made to look like a synagogue.'
You seem to persistently seek out narratives for the city and the landscape. What is the value for practicing architects and urbanists with this approach? 'Perhaps you could think of narrative as a different kind of post-occupancy analysis, or a kind of pre-occupancy analysis before anyone
moves in. Narrative is a way of imagining different and unexpected ways that a built project could be used and the design could be adjusted accordingly. I think that an architect or urbanist working with a novelist to imagine the future of a building or the next phase of a master plan they have just put together at the very least would reveal blind-spots in the design process that the designer did not consider in the first place. Narrative could thus act as a diagnostic tool. It is also useful for the designer to imagine that they are creating a stage set for interaction as this reminds them that they are not just engaging in formal experimentation but creating environments that will be used, manipulated, interpreted and dreamed about by human beings.'
Nevertheless, can you imagine the designer going even further, that the work of the architect does not end with the built product? Perhaps they run the building, working to make the narrative real? 'This reminds me of the novel ‘High Rise’ by J.G. Ballard. The architect who built the high rise ends up living in the building and has a kind of dystopian, malevolent effect on the people living below. This question also makes me think of performance art. I think it would be interesting to explore what it would mean for an architect to design with human beings and events. So you could have a building that has a permanent group of actors living on floors 4,6 and 10 who live a prescribed lifestyle that somehow affects the overall aspect of the building itself. I guess the goal for designers is to figure out how to design less static and more dynamic human environments.'
For discourse in architecture, urbanism, even landscape, as well as coverage in the mass media in general, there seems to be an overwhelming bias in the coverage of urban environments over rural ones. What interesting narratives have you come across in the countryside? 'There is a terrible horror film called Children of the Corn that is set in
A studio with Geoff Manaugh:
- You will not learn software skills - You will read from a diverse array of texts, from news to sci-fi, science magazines, even international law - Nothing is too outlandish as a topic of inquiry - You will be trained in architectural thinking that will be compatible with a variety of professions, not just architecture
Figure 2. U.S. Geological Survey
a rural environment. It presents the countryside as a place of terror and mystery. The reason I mention this is because the rural always has a dualistic image. It is either an Eden where everyone is trying to get back to their roots, own a farm and raise a family; or it is this strange and terrifying un-policed zone where children are running wild and you cannot see what is coming over the horizon because of all the corn. There is a student project I recently posted on BLDGBLOG called Animal Architecture that basically reinterpreted the farm in a spectacular, Archigram-like way. It imagined what would happen if, instead of going to Disney World or Universal Studios, you went to a place called Farm World where you could see giant inflatable cows and huge machines designed to look like pigs walking across the landscape – it is like Walking City meets a giant hog. I think it would be a very interesting design brief to bring those sorts of polemical avant-garde ideas to an extremely remote environment, and remember that it is not only in cities where interesting formal and social experimentation can occur.'
How can you see the relationship between city and countryside being enriched by narrative? How could city-dwellers experience a fulfilling landscape experience? 54
'For part of my childhood I lived in a very small rural town in the middle of Wisconsin surrounded by cornfields. Every year, around the Fourth of July, Independence Day, the carnival would come to town. A bunch of lorries would show up and they would unpack their cargo and build things like carousels and roller coasters and set up on the edge of town for a few days. In many ways this is the Instant City for rural Americans. I think the carnival is something that should get motre attention or focus in the context of design history, because it is actually a very common American typology. At the moment, it is simply seen as a boring, downmarket Disney World—but what if something altogether more interesting is happening in these rural encounters with bright, exhilarating, and explicitly temporary structures? As for city-dwellers, I think there are also many unexpected and interesting landscapes available to them at huge varieties of scale if you know where to look. It is definitely useful to be able to get out of the city and visit a spectacular landscape like the Grand Canyon, but there are other types of nature, as well. The Dutch photographer Bas Princen has a great book called ‘Artificial Arcadia’ that explores the Dutch culture of people visiting artificial landforms such as reservoirs and forests that
are being cleared for subdivisions and future highways. It shows that the first people that tend to colonise these new landscapes are not academics or intellectuals but people who play with remote controlled cars or ride BMX bikes or fly kites. It is almost as if recreational sports enthusiasts have a more subtle eye for landscape than academics and they are quicker to find interesting typologies and more flexible in how they use those landscapes than someone from a department of natural history. What cities also do is help to initiate a kind of second nature. There are indirect and unexpected effects that certain types of structures or buildings have on the environment. For example, in the States there is a culture of people sticking air conditioning units in to their windows just for the summer. They are famous for allowing birds to have a place to nest. So it is a kind of architectural addition that catalyses a different type of natural use of the urban environment. These kinds of things are around us all the time, we just need to be able to look for them. That aspect of a return of the repressed is constantly happening in cities. We think they are highly artificial but, in reality, they are just catalysing a different type of nature.' EDWIN HANS & MIKE YIN
Ill.1.‘Ethics are embedded in aesthetics.’ (Matthew Skjonsberg) - Niels Shoe Muelman, 2010. Parallel pen on paper, inverted.
Interpretation vs. exploitation “As we work along our various ways, there takes shape within us, in some sort, an ideal – something we are to become – some work to be done. This, I think, is denied to very few, and we begin really to live only when the thrill of this ideality moves us in what we will to accomplish.”¹ -Frank Lloyd Wright “Folly…says, ‘Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.’ But little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are deep in the realm of the dead.”² -Proverbs 9:17-18
In considering the relationship between form and content – between aesthetics and ethics - typography is an interesting place to begin. Firstly, because labeling a drawing has only ever, until very recently, been done by hand. Architectural labeling has a tradition as old as the discipline, and it has evolved though the appearance of various tools of drawing – t-square and triangles (i.e.Wright), stencils (i.e. Corbusier) and CAD.3 Secondly, because lettering is explicitly interpretive ‘variations on a theme’, and rule-based – lettering is intended to legibly communicate explicit verbal meaning, all the better if it is beautifully done. Whereas craftsmanship is to be admired, originality is a secondary consideration.
Convention Ukiyo-e, Japanese woodblock prints, illustrate a technology that has
evolved a tradition of art and craft that are deeply integrated. To cite a specific example of how the craft has influenced the art we can look at the convention of notan, the gradation of sky in the background of the print. Although merely a convention, notan enables the artist to choose combinations of colors that evoke the seasons and convey sunrise, midday, sunset and midnight. The greatest among these artists have obtained effects that are highly expressive, and among contemporary artists perhaps none more so than Clifton Karhu (1927-2007), a Kyoto-based artist whose graphic vocabulary was, he said, the result of his interpretation of traditional methods of drawing and printing. Among his prints can be found a number that represent stone in a way that is striking, but not original – he is interpreting another ukiyo-e graphic convention. (Ill. 2) Frank Lloyd Wright was a great admirer and collector of ukiyo-e, and his interpretation of that same convention can be seen in the drawings he made in the Arizona desert in the 1920’s and 30’s. (Ill. 3) In comparing these interpretations, it is clear that one is within the ukiyo-e tradition, and one is outside of it. Wright’s drawings from this era include his 1924 design for a compound in Death Valley, California. The site is at the base of a mountain, and in the design several existing buildings are stitched together in such a way as to give a powerful example to contemporary architects of how to do adaptive reuse while utilizing the means of land55
scape infrastructure – creating agricultural terraces that capture the infrequent rainfall from off the mountain, yielding to a cistern pool at the base that creates a more habitable microclimate within the valley.4 In this case, the work was to remain unbuilt, but that such a scheme could have functioned effectively is attested to by the use of similar strategies at Taliesin West some 15 years later that are still functioning today. In its place, the client built a castle, which is now well known as ‘Scotty’s Castle’.5 Architecturally, these two designs provide an interesting comparison of a methodology that applies a conventional typology (the castle) to the site with a methodology that evolves one (landscape–as–infrastructure) for the site.
Originality Originality is a troublesome concept, insofar as we live in an era where ‘copy/paste’ is a legitimate design methodology – not only is it’s precedent attested to biologically in the natural sciences, but to question it is seemingly to cast doubt on the democratizing force of technology in society: from the proliferation of the printing press to contemporary networks and open source databases. The free exchange of information is a fundamental tenant of progressive society. As such, what is the relevance of originality to architecture, and is it still important? Is it interesting that the pinwheel configuration of Corbusier’s house for himself (Cabanon, 1952) has a strong similarity to Wright’s own home at Taliesin West (Sun Cottage, 1936)? Or that in the widely publicized competition to design the new dome for the Riechstag, in Berlin, Norman Foster was selected as winner, only to be asked to build Santiago Calatrava’s scheme? Or that Field Operations’ new design for a Santa Monica park bears a strong resemblance to West 8’s design for Governors Island, which is itself clearly indebted to the artificial landscapes built over war debris for the Munich Olympics in 1972?
Figure 2. ‘’Kinkakuni Rain’’ Clifton Karhu, 1978
Figure 3. Owen D. Young house, Frank Lloyd Wright, 1928
It is tempting to equate honor with original work, and dishonor with derivative work. However, in the practice of law, where interpretation is the fundamental activity, precedents are cited to give the asserted interpretation greater legitimacy. Even so, in the ‘creative’ fields – literature, architecture, music, etc. – the notion of authorship is rigorously maintained. If one is found to have plagiarized one is exiled, professionally and academically, for the deed. In the tradition of classical music, J.S. Bach (1865-1750) is the acknowledged master of the compositional convention of counterpoint, a methodology that is established on the basis of the cantus firmus - a fragment of music generally taken from elsewhere, and therefore implicitly interpretive. One of the foremost interpreters of Bach in recent times is Rosalyn Tureck (1913-2003), who was both scholar and performer. Authenticity of interpretation was a concept much debated in the modern era, and her stance was that while she derived her understanding of interpretation through analysis and scholarship of the music itself (famously saying to another performer, “You play Bach your way, and I’ll play it Bach’s way”), she held that Bach’s music was essentially abstract – the expression of an organizational sensibility, and not related to any specific tonality – and championed the performance of Bach on modern instruments such as the Moog synthesizer. Is it attributable to her influence that contemporary musicians appropriate his music electronically, as Lady Gaga did when she inserted a fragment of an electronic rendition of his B Minor Fugue (BWV 869, Well Tempered Clavier Book II) into 56
Figure 4. Johnson Compound, Frank Lloyd Wright, 1924
Figure 5. Rosalyn Tureck performs Bach (image: VAI Music)
Figure 6. Lady Gaga performs Bach (image: youtube)
“Originality is a troublesome concept, insofar as we live in an era where ‘copy / paste’ is a legitimate design methodology” the introduction of her hit song ‘Bad Romance’? It may be Lady Gaga knows that Rosalyn Tureck often cited Arnold Schoenberg as having referred to BWV 869 as ‘the first piece of 12-tone music’ – a compositional technique Schoenberg devised as an interpretation of this very musical legacy. Is she engaged in an interpretive musical act, or merely in appropriating articulate sheen of baroque counterpoint?
Matthew Skjonsberg is an architect and urban designer working for West8. He obtained degrees from Taliesin, the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture and ETH Zurich and has an active career in research and education. For Atlantis he revisits an essay he wrote as a student fifteen years ago.
Interpretation There is inevitably a continuum of influences converging on any given creative effort, and interpretation of this convergent pattern is itself a creative act. To take something as it is - whether a form or a convention - and to use it superficially may rightfully be considered exploitation. By putting a thing into a context that is contrived, imitative or ultimately false to its nature, it arguably cannot have the relevance it would have otherwise - even if it is clever or ironic, etc. On the other hand, cultivating powers of analysis and developing the ability to see a thing in context enables one to interpret it with sensitivity and meaning. Here lies the depth and breadth of creative work. The question that remains is whether such inclusive discretion is creditable – and if so, a credit to whom? The author, the interpreter, or the beholder?
Notes 1. The Art and Craft of the Machine, Frank Lloyd Wright: Brush and Pencil , Vol. 8, No. 2 (May, 1901), pp. 77-81, 83-85, 87-90 Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25505640 Accessed online Nov. 30, 2011 2. Proverbs 9:17-18, King James Bible 3. Especially at TU-Delft, where the legacy is directly linked to this era through individuals like alumnus Dom Hans van der Laan and Team 10, who along with the Texas Rangers (Rowe, Hejduk, Hoesli, Slutzky) have provided powerful architectural precedent for an architecture based on ethical considerations. These are generally non-tangible, often rather ephemeral inputs, most readily summarized perhaps by the acromyn PESTEL – Politics, Economics, Sociology, Technology, Law. As a methodology it is inherently interpretive in the sense that the intention is to derive an architecture elicited from these interrelated factors, rather than to contrive one on the basis of imagination or precedent alone. 4. Frank Lloyd Wright: Designs for an American Landscape. Ed. David G. De Long. New
‘As we work along our various ways’ the only safe interpretation of tradition is, as ever, a principle in action – it is the vital gesture that connects the author, the interpreter, and the beholder.
York: Harry N. Abrams, 1996. 66-79. Print. 5. United States National Parks Service’s page for Scotty’s Castle: http://www.nps.gov/deva/ historyculture/scottys-castle.htm
Vreelust Park It's Playtime!
Linda Nijhof, Guusje Harteveld, Nick Albers
Minor Landscape Architecture, TU Delft
The serious lack of proper bush for kids to play in inspired an axis of dense thicket, absorbing almost every building and road found on the location. Clearing over three kilometers of fencing throughout the park, the same vegetation overruns the area of the Spaanse weg, a road that currently splits the park in half. Four parking lanes along two single track roads - are replaced by a green meandering bus lane with several stops and crossovers, making it possible to recognize Vreelust as a whole again. The park is characterized by a variety of architectural elements. Most iconic of those is the metro fly-over (with swings underneath) that crosses the more cultivated part of the park and plunges in what can best be described as the forest of an actual mountain for kids. The collage showing this has a sign displaying “no parents allowed” which marks the mountain as the children’s ultimate playground. Here they can do basically whatever they like, of course under some supervision.
Figure 1. Meandering bus lane through Vreelust.
Figure 2. The metro fly-over with the park running underneath.
Foremost to play on, the mountain actually helps make a bridge between a petting zoo, a primary school and a daycare previously separated by the structure of the metro going underground. Simulating the actual zoning of vegetation in the Alps, the animals and a gradient of plants and trees make the experience for kids even more (sur)real. On top of that, the mountain’s (hopefully goat infested) architectural summit has an ‘Après-jouer’, which is basically a modern playhouse with an extraordinary view and a vending machine. Below, on the east side of the mountain runs a former metro track on a dike. Overgrown by the thicket, an almost secret curved wooden pathway runs all the way north connecting all the program in an informal way. In a way, the thicket sums up all related program in a single densely vegetated zone across the park. The west side, a more cultivated part of the park, displays all sorts of sport facilities with even a gym for muslim women - the Sporthalal - playfully arranged throughout high grasses, wild flowers and the occasional tree.
Figure 3. No parents allowed, a play mountain for kids.
Besides incorporating dozens of the existing large and small buildings in the park, the sport facilities make a strong new gesture. A large structure combines the previous clubhouses, fire brigade and parking lots with a golf shooting range along the railroad track saying ‘hello’ to Rotterdam. On every scale the park speaks out for itself and encourages a variety of people of all ages to make full use of the park. The minor Landscape Architecture is a half year elective program towards the end of the Bachelor program, in which students are taught the basics of Landscape Architecture on different levels of scale; garden, park, and (polder) landscape. 58
Figure 4. The well hidden curved wooden pathway towards the east.
Figure 5. Plan of Park Vreelust
Figure 6. Overview of the park, as seen from the west.
Epilogue: Curator of the City Interview with Maurits de Hoog
In this last segment of Atlantis we look back at the contents of the issue and to try and give
Maurits de Hoog graduated from
one final look on the matters at hand. For this issue we approached Maurits de Hoog, chair-
TU Delft in 1981 and has worked
man of the department of Urbanism until last December and professor of Regional Design.
for several urban planning bureaus.
This interview took place during the last working days at the university, as he is now working
Since 1996 he has worked for the
at the planning department of Amsterdam again. Not a final goodbye though, a publication
Spatial Planning Department of
on the Dutch Metropolis is expected by the summer. De Hoog discussed the role of the
the Amsterdam municipal authority
urbanist in the changing context of the city, the interaction environment. He portrays the
where, among other things, he was
urbanist as a curator, signalling the strengths of a city and to make them stronger. Key in this
the author of several visions for the
is urban design, both on the regional scale, as on the small scale of public space.
development of areas around the river IJ.
Starting in the 1970’s the industrial city began to develop in a new direction, with new assignments arising that completely changed the working of the city. The port increased in size and moved out of the cities towards the sea, Schiphol remained as the only passenger hub, new functions and infrastructures related to the knowledge and services industry emerged. At a certain point that was discovered as something which is real, but how should this be designed, and where? The industrial city turned into something much more dynamic.
He is also involved in the planning for the Zuidplaspolders, and is an advisor to the quality team for ‘Room for the River’. His work includes subjects and publications that have expanded the boundaries of the dis-
'When describing this dynamism it turned out useful not to see the city as a design with only one model, but rather as a much more layered system which develops over the course of a thousand years. And you can add new stories to it, trying to enrich it, which ensures that this tradition of urbanization in the Netherlands continues to exist.
cipline of urbanism. Maurits de Hoog is also a sought-after advisor in the field of regional development. He has played a significant role in the development of the ‘Delta Metropole’
In the eighties these methods were worked out further, for instance on how different time scales work. For the subsoil, the cycle runs for a hundred years; for infrastructure, maybe twenty-five to fifty years; public space, ten years, etcetera. This was also worked out in a kind of planning strategy. So, on the long run there are several things that steer the development of the city, the urbanized landscape as I tend to call it. What are these long running processes, the water safety task, the coast, infrastructure is another one of these operations, with public transport and highways. These are very interesting tasks, and they offer the conditions for development; as it is called, transport oriented development. Civil engineers are capable of thinking a hundred years from now. What this means is that if we want our say and want to be able to influence these processes on the city, we have to find means to do so. That’s our profession, to create added value within a given context on a number of time scales, and to know how to design that.'
concept (originated by Professor.
'It shouldn’t just look good, it should be efficient and function better. What has kept me busy these last few years are these kinds of issues, also for my level of scale here which is the region. But what I miss is the focus on the quality of the city itself, based on what I have called the interaction environment, which touches on the character of the city. You can talk about conditions that act on this, but what is the actual quality of the city, that’s still a bit vague.'
De Hoog talks about interaction environments, which touch directly on the character of the city.
Frieling of TU Delft) and in the development of concepts for various other urban regions in the Netherlands. De Hoog is currently one of the most important innovators in thought and work on the position of the ‘Randstad Holland’ conurbation in the wider context of the Northwest European ‘megalopolis’.
“That’s our profession, to create added value within a given context on a number of time scales, and to know how to design that.” Much more than in the industrial and modernist city, urbanism today is much more about the interaction between people, rather than arranging large programs in and around the city. 'The medieval city was much more of an interaction environment than the modernist city, where everything was planned to work in a certain way. And this translates well to the present day city, where it’s also about interaction; where people meet, exchange goods, where there’s the market, the church, the fair, the congresses, and even the large rituals of the city, such as the Saint Nicolas parade. Well, this urban life, that’s a contribution of the European medieval culture to the present day global culture.'
and Cologne. So it’s all these small cities in this very large and densely populated region. And this region is a major global player, fourth in the world based on gross domestic product. That’s an enormously rich and complex functioning region, which at the same time can be very specific, because the Netherlands for instance is used for the food supply. It has enormous ports to supply its inhabitants, and Amsterdam for instance has the highest tourist count, with all the congresses and functions that go with it. So there’s this curious combination of very spread out patterns and these enormous programs that function for the whole region. In Rotterdam the port is in charge, in Amsterdam it’s the airport; those decide how things will go.' The role of the urbanist
In the industrial and modernist city that concept was reorganized and taken apart. Today once again we will have to find new ways to organize it.. 'I think that’s what we should be focusing on more. If you then look at how interaction is put together, there is an enormous amount of attention given to logistics, airports, ports, fairs and everything that goes with it. My point is that we don’t know so much about the things concerning tourism, congresses, culture, but also knowledge. This is one thing we are trying to figure out, if it can benefit cities on a regional but also on a local level, and how to act based on that. One thing which I find interesting when discussing the urban landscape is the type of urbanization that comes with it. Luuk Boelens, in a recent article, made the distinction between two types of urbanization; the capital city regions and the delta city regions. The big difference is that the capital city regions, which are the traditional capital cities, are organized in a top down manner and also function in that way. Oriented very much from above with big models, large interventions, huge programs, etcetera. On the other hand the delta city regions are much more spread out and bottom up orientated. It’s about people working together, about survival in relation to the water threat for instance, and this has resulted in a way of working together, which also applies to planning.' 'Our delta city region is a very big one, and also contains the RhineRuhr, Belgium, Flanders, Brussels, maybe even the north of France. They’ve started to call that the ABC region, an abbreviation for Amsterdam, Brussels, Cologne, which has fifty million inhabitants. That’s one enormous city, and what’s really interesting is that our large cities don’t even have a million inhabitants, maybe with the exception of Brussels
That brings us to the role of the urbanist in all this. Is there a clear definition, or should it be redefined? 'In recent years there have been a lot of attempts to find a term or definition that could explain our role. At a certain point the term ‘director’ was used to describe the regulation over all sorts of developments, for which design plans were the means. To assure that the qualities of a plan are realized the urbanist should have a central role within the whole. But at a certain point it became clear that not everything can be regulated, so it needs a sort of imagery to it. Quality criteria which can be assessed, described, thereby legitimizing what you do. That is something which has been published a lot in recent years.' 'Around the Urbanism week last September the term ‘curator’ was used, which is a lot less dominant position. But it is someone who takes initiative, for instance the curator of an exhibition who lays out a concept of how it could work, what should be expressed, what the context is. Someone who looks for the right people to express that message, and who does not just look at the content itself but also has a wider view of what the whole exhibition should be. That’s what a curator does. I think it’s important for our profession to have this active role. It’s not something obvious. This role of ‘we have a discipline, why aren’t they using us for this or that?’ That seems to be the way a lot of people talk about this, but this society uses these services when it suits the needs. Claiming this role of the director is no longer possible for urbanism, but what we can do is explore all sorts of new things and come up with new initiatives. In Amsterdam, the public works are the only ones that are
“The focus should be on these interaction environments, the programs that come with it, the public spaces of the city. That’s what we should be working on.” allowed to do that: exactly this bottom up approach of the delta city region.' 'If you are in a capital city region you get an assignment from high up, which legitimizes your actions. That’s why there is such a thing as Paris 2050, where Sarkozy decides what to do and where. That could never work here, people just wouldn’t accept that. When you get an assignment here you cannot force something on others, but you have to think rather broad of what the quality should be, and what could be interesting content, and you’ll have to achieve it with others. A lot of times you’ll have to go along with developments that were already there; the curator needs a sharp eye for interesting developments.' 'And if it’s about the urban landscape, aside from program, it’s also about public space. This is something that comes up often, when talking about the public works in Amsterdam people often refer to the general expansion plan, this modernist tradition. But it has existed for 400 years, and in the beginning it was just the city architect, city engineer, you had an urban designer, a mason, that was it. What they did is creating the bridges and taking care of all the main public spaces and the large public buildings. Those are exactly those interaction things, the program and the public space, how it looked and worked. I think we should cherish that role. This whole period of large scale housing is more of an intermezzo in the twentieth century. The focus should be on these interaction environments, the programs that come with it, the public spaces of the city. That’s what we should be working on.' Education
Is this something that should be educated, these small scale design assignments? It seems to be something which is lacking in the current urbanism curriculum. 'I’m very pleased with the new chair that is coming, Environmental Technology and Design. That’s the combination of the chairs of Taeke de Jong and Dirk Sijmons, and I hope there these techniques of making the city can play a role. This will be part of the landscape section together with the chair of landscape architecture. I hope that we can develop that in such a way that we can also find these public space designers there, that we can link it to making these public spaces in the city. That’s a huge deficiency now, you could say. Sure, there is practice and there is a discipline, I agree, but within the discipline we’re missing a few crucial elements.' 'When I studied here, a bit of an odd comparison, but we had a site preparation subject, so just the techniques of how it works. I’m talking about streetlights, parking solutions, materials, but also sewage, ground water, tree types. Nothing is being done with that here. How is that possible! Of course you really only learn this in practice, but you need to be taught the basics, and I hope this new chair will succeed in doing so. Furthermore, when Henco Bekkering leaves, I hope that the new city design chair will also focus on public space, to make this link with public buildings, putting that aspect in the middle. Han Meyer’s chair focuses more on the regional scale, conditions, long term processes. I think this city design chair should be more thematic; how do people really use the city? That’s what we need insights into. The beginning is there, but especially those techniques should be worked out much more systematically.' 'And there are plenty of things to work on for urban designers. The stations for instance, they’re terrible, we just don’t have answers for that now. How to make good storage systems, what to do with all those bicycles, how to make contracts with companies, etcetera. Annoyance is the best motivator. Those things that make you angry are the first that need to change.' JAN WILBERS
ATLANTIS Magazine by Polis | Platform for Urbanism Faculty of Architecture, TU Delft Volume 22, Number 4, February 2012 Editor in Chief Jasper Nijveldt Polis Co-sponsor
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