Designing Cities For All | 2021-2022 | English

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DESIGNING CITIES FOR ALL In 2021, Pakhuis de Zwijger’s extensive two-year activity

On the other hand, a large part of the world’s population is

programme ‘Designing Cities For All’ will commence

increasingly calling for more collectivity, more community spirit,

with the support of the Creative Industries Fund NL. This

more sustainable economic models for people and nature, and a

programme will focus on the role of designers in shaping and

more well-balanced distribution of power. The key issues here are

creating cities for and by everyone. The key question for the

affordability, accessibility, and equal opportunities. These issues

2021-2022 activity plan is:

revolve around (digital) products, (public) services, employment,

In the context of the super-diverse city, how can designers contribute to the creation of inclusive cities for, and by everyone?

education and healthcare, the housing market, as well as shaping the neighbourhood, village, and city in a more general sense. In an ever-growing group of people, the awareness is growing that radical changes are necessary in order to achieve a fair, safe, and healthy living environment for everyone.

‘Cities of Belonging’, as writer and activist OluTimehin Adegbeye calls them, are cities in which everyone feels and is allowed to


feel at home. Not only in a spatial sense but also with regard to the

This applies specifically to cities which have become increasingly

digital domain and relating to the design of our public systems,

diverse due to an increase in migration. Today in the Netherlands,

services and products.

Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague have officially achieved the

“The only cities worth building, indeed the only futures worth dreaming of, are those that include all of us, no matter who we are or how we make homes for ourselves.”

status of super-diverse city. The term ‘superdiversity’ (first coined by Steven Vertovec in 2007) refers to cities and neighbourhoods where there is no longer a numeric majority of one ethnic group. It is in these types of cities in particular that people are springing into action. This is due in part to the fact that the emancipation of newcomers, minorities, and young people is stagnating and

-OluTimehin Adegbeye

gentrification is continuing rapidly all over the world. What is new


minorities join forces. Women, people with a non-white skin colour,

is that these are no longer isolated manifestations of resistance: queer people, young people; together they aim to lay bare the faulty

If one thing has become apparent over the past few years - and in

power relations and inequalities and to dismantle inter-aggressive

particular in 2020 as the global Covid-19 pandemic has amplified

and often mutually reinforcing expressions of sexism, racism,

existing societal problems - it is the poignant increase in the

validism, classism, homophobia, transphobia and other systems

dichotomy within society on a global, national and local scale. All

of discrimination, oppression and privilege. They rightly demand

over the world, we were witness to the painful differences laid

an equal place in the city for everyone. This relates to equal access

bare between the rich and poor, the unequal access to basic needs

and treatment in the public domain, education and healthcare,

such as hygiene, shelter, and education, and the constant global

the cultural sector, on the labour and housing market, in politics

struggle with the climate crisis and refugee problem. At the same

and in nightlife. The effect of superdiversity is also about the

time, after the death of the American George Floyd, the ‘Black Lives

normalisation of diversity and its consequences for power relations

Matter’ movement gained worldwide attention in its fights against

and everyday attitudes and manners in the city. It is therefore

institutional racism.

desirable to gain more awareness, knowledge and experience with the inclusive design of public space, products and processes. This

In parallel, we see an increasing trend of populism and

is necessary in order to arrive at systems and living environments

individualism, a declining trust in government, and the emergence

that everyone (regardless of age, cultural background, ethnicity,

of a dominant and aggressive type of leadership - in most cases

capacities, religion, and gender) can relate to in a fair and equal

coupled with discriminatory and racist nationalistic policies.



We will delve into the subject of (re)designing inclusive cities

In these troubled times riddled with complex issues, the design

together with six Fellows who we will engage through our

sector has an important role to play in shaping the future of our

Fellowship programme as well as many other designers, scientists,

daily lives in a fair and sustainable manner. We all know that

experts, educational institutions and other involved partners.

design encompasses much more than the “simple” development of

The aim will be to ensure that everyone can participate equally

new products or services. Designers are - in addition to politicians,

in social, economic, cultural and leisure activities in cities -

administrators, shareholders, clients and other policy-making

regardless of ability, ethnicity, gender, age and cultural background.

persons - drivers and catalysts for urgent systematic changes

Cities where everyone feels welcome.

and social improvements thanks in part to their imagination and creative ability. In recent years we have seen how designers


contribute to social change by focusing on involving users in the

The bilingual (Dutch and English) activity programme Designing

actual design process. Understanding and meeting the needs and

Cities For All aims to give insights into and provide tools for the

wants of people, the users, is crucial in these practices and this

inclusive (re)design of the city in all facets for future and current


designers who are active in the fields of architecture, graphic and visual communications, industrial design, spatial design,

The time has come to develop an alternative vision for designing

product design, digital design, game design and much more. As

and shaping our daily reality, a more intersectional feminist vision

well as providing the policymakers and other related parties

where we ask ourselves how we can build more just, sustainable

(such as professionals from civil society organisations and

and inclusive cities. Designing Cities For All is about designing

citizens’ initiatives) with these tools and know-how. This involves

products, services, places and systems, where everyone feels

interpreting different perspectives, showing practices of inclusive

represented, everyone participates, and can communicate on an

(and exclusive) design, sharing knowledge, developing critical

equal footing. We are guided in this by a number of design criteria,

thinking skills and an alternative perspective, and generating the

namely that cities are respectful, safe, functional, understandable,

appropriate (design) vocabulary.

sustainable, affordable, accessible, attractive and healthy for everyone.


Designing Cities For All is a two-year research and presentation programme and is made up of various components. The programme is a combination of desk research, interviews and practical

Designing Cities For All wants to contribute to a future where these

research on the one hand (supported by a total of six Fellows who

design criteria are the norm and where we prioritise values such as

will each work on the programme for three months) combined

equality, inclusion and justice. The 2021-2022 activity programme

with the associated activities of dossier development; and on the

will have an increased focus on the discourse and current practice

other hand various forms of transfer and exchange of practical

of design within our society, going beyond the existing ethos of

experiences and generated knowledge. We engage in dialogue and

social design and design for good.

connect national and international designers, artists, scientists, policymakers, and all actors involved in shaping and creating the city during livecast / meetings, podcasts, expert tables, magazine articles, exhibitions, publications and a book club.

The activities focus on a wide range of professional designers and design students (through the programmes), and a wide variety of


social professionals, clients, policy makers, scientists, journalists,

Pakhuis de Zwijger sees this activity programme as an opportunity to

politicians and active citizens. The strength and uniqueness of the

conduct in-depth research into inclusive design from a Dutch context, and

activity programme stems from a mix of participants with different

to link the knowledge that is available at the local Amsterdam level with the

backgrounds, knowledge, insights and positions within the design

knowledge available at regional, national (particularly the super-diverse

process, so that all elements of the exclusive design of cities are

cities of Rotterdam and The Hague) and especially international level.

highlighted and come together.

Individual designers, agencies, educational institutions, training institutes and other parties and professionals in the design chain on a national and

In the activity programme we leave ample space for the input from

international level are called upon and invited to participate in, contribute

our Fellows, participating experts and partners. We trust designers

to and learn from each other about Designing Cities For All in a broad

and scientists, students from participating design courses,


stakeholders and chain partners from various relevant disciplines and fields to share their insights, knowledge, experiences and

Are you interested? Please contact Dymphie Braun (Head of Programme

methods within the programme. All of this with the aim of making

Designing Cities For All):

better cities for all of us!

Pakhuis de Zwijger Piet Heinkade 181-K 1019 HC Amsterdam

020 - 624 63 80