Values for Survival—The Venice Exploratorium: Cahier 2

Page 1

VALUES FOR SURVIVAL THE VENICE EXPLORATORIUM: CAHIER 2 Edited by Caroline Nevejan, Jane da Most0, Huda AbiFarès

17th International Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia Parallel Research Program of The Netherlands' Contribution

VFS2020_Cahier2_Cover_Sinf.indd 1

30/11/2020 16:11

WHO IS WE? Who is We? is the title of the Netherlands’ official contribution to the 17th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. It questions the dominant structures and histories we inhabit and inherit, presenting an urbanism that is Other – female, of colour, queer, and multispecies. ¶ Het Nieuwe Instituut, commissioner of the Dutch pavilion, fuels the discussion on 20/21 biennale curator Hashim Sarkis’ call for a ‘new spatial contract’ addressing how we will live together, the overall theme of the biennale. The installation opens by asking who ‘we’ is. Given current ecological, social, and urban urgencies, that negotiation should therefore equally represent and involve a multiplicity of humans and non-humans as soil, animals, microbes and plants. ¶ Such a contract requires specific tools and insights for emancipating communities and decolonising soil and ecosystems which have been developed throughout history, but have been marginalised by the architecture and urbanism canon. While this canon still forms the basis of our buildings and cities, it is clear that it is inadequate for supporting a multiplicity of lifeworlds for humans and non-humans in our cities. ¶ Who is We? presents two approaches that introduce a different mentality in designing urban space seeing a fundamental curiosity about the 'other', including other forms of life, as a condition for the emergence of a new quality and equality in cities and societies. These approaches depart from the research and practice of architect Afaina de Jong and artist Debra Solomon. ¶ While architecture’s pervasive systems of power still treat Otherness as something to be ignored, managed, or excluded, De Jong sees the Multiplicity of Other as crucial for our living together. Multiplicity of Other re-evaluates and reconstitutes the dominance of a single-sided perspective on cities, identifying the rich multiform human presence as fundamental. She is researching the complexity, methodologies, and values in a Space of Other (chapter 13), mediating multisided knowledge and a new spatial language. ¶ Debra Solomon envisions soil as the foundation for the socio-ecological infrastructure of our cities, advocating a Multispecies Urbanism to contribute to ecological growth. Multispecies Urbanism puts forward a just urban development, policy, and practice driven by giving primacy to reciprocal relations between humans and non-humans. It reorients urbanisation processes towards the strategies implemented by non-humans as a means to survive societies’ crises of democracy, planetary climate catastrophe, and uneven resource distribution. Creating awareness of what a living soil is, Solomon uses rhizotrons and Radical Observation (chapter 16) methodologies to understand human interaction with the natural world. ¶ Who is We? is an empathic plea against monoculture and homogeneity: multiplicity and reciprocity are crucial for the interactions that keep a society and ecosystem resilient. ¶ In order to link certain themes to a world of policy outside of the pavilion and to ensure that an agenda also lands with those who are not going to Venice, Het Nieuwe Instituut always organises a public programme of talks, additional research and events. For this edition the institute has invited Caroline Nevejan, Chief Science Officer of the City of Amsterdam to develop a programme that elaborates on the concepts multispecies and multiplicity. This led to a program entitled Values for Survival in which the decisive decade of climate change that we’re living in right now and what it requires of us in terms of action is the central point of departure. ¶ Part of this programme are also the three designteams that were selected through the Open Call organized by Creative Industries Fund and Het Nieuwe Instituut: Failed Architecture, Studio Wild (chapter 15) and Bureau LADA (chapter 10). The last two also took part in the Exploratorium that is here presented in all its rich and urgent diversity. ¶ Despite – or maybe even thanks to – the postponement of the biennale as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic, the collaboration with Venice itself within this Exploratorium shows how much we can learn from each other in the urban, social and ecological questions that we share. Which is something that goes far beyond our presence every two year. Guus Beumer, commissioner (Artistic Director Het Nieuwe Instituut) Francien van Westrenen, curator (Head of Agency Het Nieuwe Instituut)

VFS2020_Cahier2_Cover_Sinf.indd 2

30/11/2020 16:11


17th International Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia Parallel Research Program of The Netherlands' Contribution

VFS_Cahier2.indb 1

27/11/2020 09:57

Values for Survial: Cahier 1 (00–05). Published in July 2020.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 2

27/11/2020 09:57


06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 VFS_Cahier2.indb 3




“Did you ever happen to see a city resembling this one?” Kublai asked Marco Polo, extending his beringed hand from beneath the silken canopy of the imperial barge, to point at the bridges arching over the canals, the princely palaces whose marble doorsteps were immersed in the water, the bustle of light craft zigzagging, driven by long oars, the boats unloading baskets of vegetables at the market squares, the balconies, platforms, domes, campaniles, island gardens glowing green in the lagoon's grayness. […] Dawn had broken when he said: “Sire, now I have told you about all the cities I know.” “There is still one of which you never speak.” Marco Polo bowed his head. “Venice,” the Khan said. Marco smiled. “What else do you believe I have been talking to you about?” The emperor did not turn a hair. “And yet I have never heard you mention that name.” And Polo said: “Every time I describe a city I am saying something about Venice.” “When I ask you about other cities, I want to hear about them. And about Venice, when I ask you about Venice.” “To distinguish the other cities' qualities, I must speak of a first city that remains implicit. For me it is Venice.” Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities (1972)

VFS_Cahier2.indb 4

27/11/2020 09:57




Cities like Venice and Amsterdam are water cities, open to the whole world. From a town planning viewpoint, living with water has led to the creation of unusual planning and social models, and there are many unusual things that unite us. Both cities have had important ports and connections with the rest of the world, drawing artistic and cultural stimuli from them that they subsequently appropriated. Different technologies over the centuries have modulated DutchVenetian exchanges, right up until today when the pandemic has allowed us to test the limits of virtual meetings. This project seems to me to be an excellent opportunity to reinvigorate old cultural connections and to stimulate the creation of new ones and, it appears, has already brought positivity at such a difficult time.

Umberto Marcello del Majno Honourary Consul for the Kingdom of The Netherlands, Venice

VFS_Cahier2.indb 5

27/11/2020 09:57



Rivers in the sky emerge above the rainforest. These flows transport precipitation filled with oxygen over the earth. While human societies are in lockdown in 2020, forests in all continents have been burning as never before. Such cascades of climate change affect the Rivers in the Sky. NASA Earth Observatory images by Jesse Allen and Joshua Stevens, using VIIRS data from the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership and IMERG data provided courtesy of the Global Precipitation Mission (GPM) Science Team’s Precipitation Processing System (PPS).

VFS_Cahier2.indb 6

27/11/2020 09:57


ARCHITEC- 06 TURES OF TRUST INTRODUCTION This Cahier 2 is a distillation of a series of experiments that are part of the complimentary research programme of the Dutch contribution to the 17th Architecture Biennale carried out during the COVID-19 lock-down, when travelling and physical proximity were severely limited. The Biennale organization had postponed the exhibition, and all events associated with it were cancelled. In this totally unforeseen and dramatic situation, new questions arose around the nature of collaboration itself. Can intuition and experience be shared between people who do not know each other and cannot meet? The previous Cahier 1 (released in summer 2020) set the agenda for integrating social and ecological dynamics in a world where local realities are deeply defined by global dynamics. It raises questions on designing for diversity and emphasizes the need to design for uncertainty as well. Building upon this research, Cahier 2 presents a variety of experiments in Online collaboration. It includes eleven chapters that are direct collaborations with Venice and three chapters that are collaborations with other places, all having different links to the Exploratorium in the way they have come about. In both Cahiers scientists, artists, policymakers, designers, activists and others present original work from which essential Values for Survival can emerge. Different tones of voice and a variety of discourses are present. The Venice Exploratorium focuses on challenges that Venice and Amsterdam share. Not being able to go to Venice does not mean one cannot collaborate with Venice, provided one has a solid partner at the other end. Therefore, the collective We are here Venice, which addresses Venice’s challenges as a living city and advocates evidence-based approaches to policymaking, joined the curatorial team. In an Online experimental trajectory, eleven teams from Venice and Amsterdam and a variety of other cities collaborated for three months. The teams had free rein in devising a research methodology, communication system and final output within the framework of a simple, yet rigorous, common editorial design. At

VFS_Cahier2.indb 7

27/11/2020 09:57


VALUES FOR SURVIVAL: CAHIER 2 06 the same time in Lisbon, an experiment was carried out into how one can be present in demolished architectures of the past. In Amsterdam, seven story-catchers gathered answers to the question ‘What do we need?’ and in a European context, 35 cities identified how science can better help cities in the challenges they face. While each of the fourteen explorations could only work via Online mediated communication, the results are significant and affect what happens next in the physical world. The support of the two deputy mayors of Amsterdam, Meliani and Van Doorninck, was crucial in the decision to redesign the original plans for an Online research programme. Because the lock-down affected the arts and culture in very detrimental ways, it was agreed that in principle all artists and others who have no steady income would be paid. The budget to do so became higher because all others who had jobs refrained from any honorarium. The genuine generosity with which participants in these experiments gave their best is heartwarming. In conclusion, we were capable of sharing intuition and experience with people we do not know and cannot meet, by building architectures of trust in which interaction between people was carefully orchestrated and facilitated. Second, it appears that creative skills for shaping interactions are indispensable for making Online collaborations successful. Third, it seems that an attitude of empathy between participants is necessary to support one another in this emerging transdisciplinary space. By engaging with the world and having to work beyond language, and without meeting each other, it became apparent that we are rediscovering solidarity. Wishing you lots of inspiration on behalf of all contributors,

1. Look for editors' bios in sections 18, 19, and 20.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 8

Caroline Nevejan, Jane da Mosto, Huda AbiFarès1

27/11/2020 09:57



Childhood Phone


Material Culture


Film Feeling











Craft Conversation


Creativity Language



More Than Human




Design Social Sciences


History a oz ant on as e


en e en e



inc om e& work ink om en & werk

e ju

sti c



s oc ial e quity soc iale gelijk heid


lan gro d con ndc versio n onv ersie





pe ice l vo k politica raa insp politieke

e vr

i log a r d i g e n e c osafe lly

ia lly




S oc



ua lity












just a n d ecologica


o tik gen st & of ph - f os os ph for oru ver s lo zad ading igin g


netwe rken netwo rks











s erwij ond cation edu

s ti n





luchtverv uil air pollut ing ion

d ei dh lth


h ui s v e




ge zo n he a

uiling he verv n misc llutio che emical po ch

voed sel food



r wate r wate



Climate Change

ver zu r oc ing ea va na n cid de ifi c

m aetherinvingbclitoy eiend

ie rg y rg

i s te los rsi ity ive ers iod div bio ing b er ind verm



da er

n ea oc ion at



ra klimaatve ndering climate change

g laa n on tio oz le g dep tin yer la

tr ni s

als raw g ithd kin ter w rek freshwa terontt zoetwa


Technology Configuration

gemeente Amsterdam, design: Beautiful Minds, 2020





Art Architecture

Natural Sciences

Interaction Place







VFS_Cahier2.indb 9

27/11/2020 09:57










04 ra klimaatve ndering climate change

r wate r wate

ge zo n he a



inc om e& work ink om en & werk

e ju

sti c



s oc ial e quity soc iale gelijk heid






pe ice l vo k politica raa insp politieke

e vr

i log a r d i g e n e c osafe lly

ia lly




S oc



ua lity












just a n d ecologica

o tik gen st & of ph - f os os ph for oru ver s lo zad ading igin g


netwe rken netwo rks










s ti n




s erwij ond cation edu


h ui s v e




d ei dh lth

en e en e

voed sel food



luchtverv uil air pollut ing ion

ie rg y rg


ver zu r oc ing ea va na n cid de ifi c

m aetherinvingbclitoy eiend

uiling he verv n misc llutio che emical po ch


rd a



e st


a oz ant on as e

g laa n on tio oz le g dep tin yer la

n ea oc ion at


tr ni s


lan gro d con ndc versio n onv ersie



VFS_Cahier2.indb 10


i s te los rsi ity ive ers iod div bio ing b er ind verm

Complex participatory system


als raw g ithd kin ter w rek freshwa terontt zoetwa

gemeente Amsterdam, design: Beautiful Minds, 2020

People live in “communities of systems and people” in which systems (electricity, water, finance, Internet) often have more agency than people do. Cities are complex participatory systems in which an intervention in one structure (social, ICT, Infra or ecological structure), affects other structures as well. Through research, through policy and through design, interventions are shaped that affect the city as the complex participatory system it is. Ultimately citizens self-organize to deal with emergent changes and crises in the dynamics of complexity that cities face.

27/11/2020 09:58


INTRODUCTION: ARCHITECTURES OF TRUST 06 Values of Cahier 1: Re-connect the Social and the Ecological 1. Plan for Experience In current urban planning paradigms, despite the many participatory approaches, personal experience of place hardly resonates in urban planning practices. For individuals, it is the cultural expression that defines the personal experience of place, as happens in fashion or food. Urban planners need to realize that the personal is cultural and political, and that emotions and local agency define the experience of place next to the quality of air, water and more. 2. Design for Diversity Enjoying diversity is not a question of tolerance, it is a thorough curiosity about being human with other humans in a natural world of multispecies, a world that survives because of its relational diversity. Abuse of power reinforces the development of false dichotomies of good and bad between people and places. To engage with relational diversity requires cultural skills that allow for interaction with the unknown. It requires the skill of listening and asking questions. 3. Personal Climate Futures People like to take care of the environment they live in. Make it possible for neighbours to nurture the green around them, whether through producing food, planting trees, nurturing bees or making compost. Local bureaucracies need to enable residents to collaborate and make their environment more climate-resilient. Municipalities need to adapt and develop other notions of maintenance and control. 4. Soil is Foundational Only recently has it become apparent that soil is of as much importance to a city as it is to a farmer in the field. Soil is the foundation of urban ecologies, it is the cradle of diversity, it is an information system, a food system and a water system. It helps to deal with floods from heavy rain. It reflects social structures of care. Nurturing soil contributes to enhancing urban climate resilience. 5. Train to Be Fit Learning from resilient systems such as the Dutch elected Waterboards, which prepare for possible water crises, every neighbourhood needs training in how to safeguard the local quality of life in times of climate crisis and to include all involved in this training. As a human body needs to exercise, a city and a neighbourhood also have to be in a fit condition to be able to deal with crises. People and governing structures have to train to adapt. 6. Transition to Circular To rebalance the systems on earth, we need to reconnect the social and the ecological, and understand relations between the local and the global. Inspired by values for sustainability and in iterative processes of innovation, circular economies can be developed. The ambition to dare to engage with this complex transition shows that cities can make a difference if they want to, or if they are forced to do so. 7. Deconstruct Data Data analysis is foundational to many processes in research and policymaking, but little attention is given to the way in which the constructed data present and produce power structures. A dataset easily includes and excludes specific people, and an algorithm creates its own causality which is often hardly made explicit or discussed. The power of data and the constructed reality they represent need to be critiqued and questioned. 8. Just-in-time Research Today’s policymakers have to deal with series of unanticipated crises for which they need research outcomes instantly. Structures and dynamics of academic and scientific research are not apt to assist in these crises that require integral and interdisciplinary approaches. New structures have to be invented to make sure that the right person has access to outcomes of research at the right moment and in the right place. Digital technologies make a significant difference here.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 11

27/11/2020 09:58


VFS_Cahier2.indb 12


27/11/2020 09:58




For the second Cahier in the Values for Survival series, the design was developed to expand this notion of freedom, collaboration and giving voice to the individual/ collective/marginalized in our society (even our natural environment). In Cahier 1 the typography and multi-scripts played an important role in conveying this concept. In this Cahier 2, the focus turned to visuals, and every participant was given the space and support to become a co-creator of the issue, voicing their vision not only through typographic styling but also through the total design of their pages from content (images and texts) to structure and sequence. In order to maintain visual unity within the Cahier as whole, a simple structure was devised. The structure of the page was reduced to a minimal framework that provided a blank space for each team to fill as best matched their narrative and visual exploration. This Cahier works like a sketchbook, with minimal top-page navigation that links this Cahier 2 visually to the pervious Cahier 1. Each team was assigned a limited number of pages (8 to 14 pages) to present their project in any way they felt most appropriate. The two pages that preceded these pages were standardized across the Cahier and used to introduce the project and the team members. The two pages that followed the project pages were also standardized in format to contain evaluations and reflections on the methodology and experience of the collaboration. These pre- and post-project pages were designed by the book designer following a common grid. The colour palette in this Cahier, as in the previous one, was used as a coding system that further underlined the individuality of each team’s section (katern), clearly delineating each space and its character or mood. Cahier 2’s colour palette was inspired by the wealth of the natural colours of minerals. It metaphorically equated minerals with the individual explorations, implying that these research projects could also be considered as ‘elements’ that could develop and combine with other elements to evolve into potentially larger and longer-term research projects. This idea of ‘collective’ individuality or individual collectives was further explored typographically. Each team was given the space to choose the typefaces that best represented the team or project’s ‘tone of voice’ and that worked harmoniously with their project’s visuals and concept. The whole design is literally held together by a top navigational band that is subtle yet clearly presents a visual anchor. The order of the sections/projects was carefully considered in collaboration with the editors. The sequence was based on a conceptual as well as visual consideration. The aim was to create a fluid and critical narrative, where each section was seen as a part of a greater whole, together creating a fluid and overarching story of the Venice Exploratorium. The overlaps and narrative threads and concepts travel through the various sections and link the projects in uncanny and serendipitous ways, highlighting a shared call for new ‘values for survival’ in the era that lies ahead.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 13

27/11/2020 09:58



Deserted venetian lagoon satelite image. Š contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2019-20), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO. The Copernicus Sentinels are a fleet of dedicated EUowned satellites, designed to deliver the wealth of data and imagery that are central to the European Union's Copernicus environmental programme. The European Commission leads and coordinates this programme, to improve the management of the environment, safeguarding lives every day. ESA is in charge of the space component, responsible for developing the family of Copernicus Sentinel satellites on behalf of the European Union and ensuring the flow of data for the Copernicus services, while the operations of the Copernicus Sentinels have been entrusted to ESA and EUMETSAT.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 14

27/11/2020 09:58



Sometimes one is not aware of the origin of associations and ideas that come to mind. This happened to me when I decided to do an Exploratorium in the context of the complimentary research programme for the Dutch contribution to the Biennale of Architecture of Venice. In my mind we needed something other than a workshop or a course, a conference or a lab. I imagined the Exploratorium as a radical research environment in which learning by doing and transdisciplinary collaboration are at the core. Faced with the global pandemic and the vast system change it caused, while at the same time being confined to the house, I was inspired by a pressing need to explore the emerging situation. The verb ‘exploring’ was charged with a sense of survival, a need to learn fast and profoundly, and an awareness that this system change is dependent on unanticipated connections between different kinds of knowledge and that we need to submerge ourselves in this exploration to understand how we can survive. Only after the Venice Exploratorium took place and faced with the need to write this text did I realize that I had visited this magic place called The Exploratorium in San Francisco, more than 25 years ago. This community museum aims to raise awareness by offering a library of experiments, intertwining arts and sciences, sharing ideas, experience and expertise, bridging formal and informal learning, nurturing the dawn of cutting-edge ideas in any child or other visitor who engages with the community. In hindsight, the Venice Exploratorium resonated with this approach, even though it could not include the physical sharing of place and though it only existed Online for three and a half months. Because of my personal extensive Online experience,2 I knew it would be possible to create a Venice Exploratorium Online provided we could have a solid partner on the other side. So, we asked We are here Venice to join the team. Sharing the concern on climate change and in need of new evidence-based policies to tackle its consequences, the agenda of the two European deltas of Venice and Amsterdam resonate significantly with each other, and this inspired a good collaboration. Match­ing sociology, environmental science, art and design in the heart of the Venice Exploratorium offered a rich research environment for participants to engage with. As a result of combining our networks, over forty-five people, from different cities, disciplines and skills, and speaking a variety of languages, were introduced to each other to embark on a three-month intense collaboration during the height of the lockdown of the first outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was agreed in the beginning that in these three months, teams would try to get as far as possible in challenging imagination and the current status quo. Radical in the sense of daring to speculate, and running with possible results and spending little time on making compromises, but instead adding scientific and artistic imagination for breaking barriers to create a new understanding of relations in the world. In the end we found that through the many generous and courageous contributions and interactions, a radical research environment for challenging times emerged. New ways of working contribute to new ways of thinking. Values for survival are explored, not only in each research track, but also in the production process of the Exploratorium. What the radical research environment could bring forth exceeded expectations. Several projects that started in the Venice Exploratorium will carry on. Unusual places acquired special attention and new concepts will be developed further. Quite surprisingly, it appears that in this process full of imagination, we have also reinvented solidarity.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 15

2. For over 30 years I have orchestrated Online shows, research projects and collaborations in the early Internet era in Amsterdam. Being the home of the virgin Internet in Europe, a culture of Online experimentation emerged in which we were free to make many mistakes, which makes the learning curve steep. From the musical venue Paradiso, and with the involvement of the University of Amsterdam and art institutions like V2, Mediamatic and STEIM, we have created Online concerts, art installations and international conferences since the end of the 1980s. In the 1990s, Waag Society started to explicitly study the future of technology in the public domain by making applications that fuelled debate with many involved. In 2016 Amsterdam was awarded the I-Capital award, also because of its refined cultural ecology between culture, government, business, societal organizations and last but not least its residents, the people. So when the lockdown happened in March 2020, this personal experience of the potential of Online collaborations gave me the courage to invent an Online Venice Exploratorium and convince others to participate.

27/11/2020 09:58





ASSIGNMENT Het Nieuwe Instituut





















14 July





Data visualization: Methodology


VFS_Cahier2.indb 16









Het Nieuwe Instituut



27/11/2020 09:58


INTRODUCTION: ARCHITECTURES OF TRUST 06 CURATING COLLABORATION Facilitating an online exploration between people who do not know each other and cannot meet requires careful orchestration. It requires transparency in planning, management of expectations and an editing process throughout. It requires a research design that facilitates people to locally do whatever they deem appropriate, including the choice of tools they like and need, while at the same time demanding that participants share work in progress and offering the environment to do so. After establishing a curatorial team with bases in both Venice and Amsterdam, the Venice Exploratorium curatorial team met once a week. Concepts of themes, teams and tracks were created, people were identified and introduced, progress was discussed, and what was needed next was taken care of. Participants were introduced to specific others because of shared interests and expertise and potential synergy as perceived by the curatorial team. Teams were called ‘tracks’ indicating the trajectory participants had committed to. The curatorial team stayed close to the tracks throughout the three months with regular check-ins and support. Every track was built upon a first person who then also functioned as leader/ facilitator for the rest of the team. At the same time, an editorial and design structure was created in which every track appointed a person to communicate work in progress and results. Between these two structures, the 11 teams in the Exploratorium were supported to do the work. The nurturing of personal relations between the different curators and the variety of participants helped to build bridges of trust. The role of the principal investigator and the curatorial team was to offer transparency in planning and facilitation, and to make sure that interventions, reflections and evaluations were structurally triggered and gathered in the process. To make the online collaboration between so many people transparent, while offering the teams maximum autonomy, the online platform openresearch.amsterdam1 was used. Here every team had a project space in which image, text and sound could be shared with only the team, with other researchers or on the Internet. The curatorial team also published guidelines here. The online collaboration took shape in different ways. Most teams had weekly digital meetings in which they presented work in progress to each other and reflected upon these. Next to these track meetings, there were a couple of plenary meetings. In a first online plenary launching event, research questions and intended methodologies were presented. Then, after six weeks, the tracks all presented their ‘work in progress’ and finally, because the pandemic was slowing down at that time, the final and public presentation connected two locations in Amsterdam and Venice and a third already very well-known Zoom space online. While engaging online with people one does not know and cannot meet, every participant needs to have personal engagement to enter the collaboration with. It is much harder to motivate people when working remotely than when physically sharing the same space. The diversity of people and places with good and bad connectivity and access to tools was in certain tracks very intense. Even after so many years of ubiquitous media and networks in cities, several tracks shared neither language nor technology. Here an understanding beyond words emerged and the online collaboration succeeded anyway. It appears also that creative capabilities are indispensable to make the online collaborations successful. The courage to share personal work with people you do not know, the capacity to create this expression and the capacity to understand each other’s contributions require profound artistic and design competences. Towards the end of the Exploratorium the curators had an hour-long online conversation with every team, in which both the way they worked and the lessons they drew from the experience were gathered and specific Values for Survival formulated. It was found that every team established a specific rhythm in interactions. Several teams reported that by sending bits of creative expression to each other and reflecting upon these, trust was established in the team, even though they did not meet till this day. This reciprocity in creative interaction emphasizes the need for developed creative skills being indispensable for online and remote collaboration.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 17

1. These evaluation talks are registered for educational purposes. Please look at openresearch…./….

27/11/2020 09:58



1. Wikipedia is the best example of a shared body of knowledge. It has invented a very smart way of facilitating a shared deliberative authorship that is nurtured by networked communities of practice.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 18

As principal investigator in the Venice Exploratorium, I initiated a variety of collaborations and guided them through to this publication in front of you. I asked all participants to reflect not only on the outcomes but also on the way of working together, and to visualise their invented methodologies as well. The analysis here below is a result of these reflections. For a good understanding of the outcomes, it is important to realise that all participants have established careers and know how to organise, understand what is expected and adjust in time to achieve set outcomes. The analyses of the reflections indicate that when working with people one does not know and cannot meet, one needs to build an architecture in which trust can emerge. It appears that such an architecture of trust in the online world is built with creative reciprocity, a nurturing of personal engagement and an understanding beyond language. In many experiments between people who did not know each other before, the exchange of bits of creative expression set the ground for the emergence of trust. Exchanging images, short sound tracks, stories and bits of video created trails of interaction in which participants learned about each other and tuned into the shared collaboration. This process also required a nurturing of personal engagement because in online collaborations one has to motivate oneself in the first place. The required first step for engaging with any kind communication is quite a larger step online. It requires from participants to have more patience for the other person, to have empathy and to dare to understand beyond language. Also, online, many things cannot be expressed in words yet are communicated anyway. Architectures of trust are also built with shared rhythms in meetings, documentation all the way through, structured feedback between teams, and formal facilitation (financially, institutionally, time- and space wise) of the commitment that people engage with. A rhythm in regular meetings contributes to building trust between participants, even when one is not sure what to do next. The fact that one appears on screen at the given time, in the chosen application which one also has to make operational beforehand, shows respect and sets the scene for establishing trust between participants. Also, when one has agreed to a rhythm of meetings, this structures personal work. Working online it is hard to interact with embodied knowledge. Documentation of ‘work in progress’ helps to create a shared body of knowledge instead.1 Structured feedback allows for creating a shared trajectory in the creation of new work. It can also help diversity flourish and prevent the numbing down effect of settling for common sense. Understanding the dynamics and interfaces that shared bodies of knowledge need requires much more research though. The experiments presented in Cahier 2, all choose to work for a specific period of time that was long enough to explore, yet short enough to avoid lengthy discussions on structure and more. The Venice Exploratorium had a strong grid in between which the freedom of participants to do what they deemed appropriate was core. Having specific roles in a structure that everyone recognised and knew they had access to, contributed to building an architecture of trust. The Lisbon experiment, although it had no link with Venice, nevertheless went through the same process of the Exploratorium, together with the eleven other tracks. The Amsterdam story-catchers went through their own research process parallel to the Exploratorium. Both tracks had an architecture of trust in place, similar to the eleven other tracks. The City Science pilot, however, was a different exploration. It interacted with the formal structures of the European Commission and aimed to request attention for urban challenges in relation to the research that cities need to face these challenges. Here it concerned a collaboration between City Science Officers of cities in Europe, with several departments of the European Commission (JRC, DG R&I, DG Regio), and more than a dozen European city- and university networks. The fact that cities self-organised and took the lead with the support of the EU Commission appeared to be a new phenomenon. From the beginning, this phenomenon has been a factor of both the success of the exploration and tension within it.

27/11/2020 09:58


INTRODUCTION: ARCHITECTURES OF TRUST 06 REVISITING PRESENCE AND THE DESIGN OF TRUST In 2007, I defended the dissertation Presence and the Design of Trust at the University of Amsterdam in front of an interdisciplinary PhD committee. In this dissertation I built the argument that when things of ethical nature are at stake, people need to meet in real life. The argument goes as follows: “When one needs to discuss ‘what is good to do?’, or in an evaluation where one asks, ‘Is it good what we did?’, people need to have full communication bandwidth to communicate with each other to overcome the incommensurability between them. Incommensurability refers to the not sharing of a fundamental understanding because people have different histories, competences, knowledge and craft. When meeting each other, people are witness to each other and can act and intervene. People can also bear witness of what happened before to affect what happens after. Emotions and feelings help to steer towards well-being and survival. In real life, people feel each other’s emotions more easily, one can even smell them sometimes. In real life one can tell a joke with the whole body involved and engage in reciprocal ways when offering a cup of tea for example.” In the dissertation I conclude that “mediated presence, online communication, is great for production purposes and for exchange of information. It allows for a limited developing of language and concepts though, because it limits diversity and intensity and does not offer embodied communication.” In the municipal trajectories of the Amsterdam story-catchers for the local Spatial Vision and in the European City Science Initiative, the curatorial and editorial work had to meet formal requirements as well. Bridging formal and informal structures at the same time requires specific attention and this attention is more complex and affects the sense of trust between participants profoundly. In the interaction between different officials, trust emerged as a result of this ‘risky’ engagement with self-organising cities. Such a trust between officials who dare to take risk can make a significant difference. However, in a formal context, words like ‘steering committee’ and ‘leading cities’ easily take over the imagination and are detrimental to the sense of autonomy that is by definition core to bottom-up self-organisation.2 The Venice Exploratorium and the Lisbon experiment offer a different insight. Here the incommensurability between disciplines, crafts and skills is tackled by a rhythmic exchange of bits of creative expression, a time-based creative reciprocity, in which participants took risk and paid attention, and consequently, created new innovative work. Participants left their comfort zones and engaged with other disciplines and ways of working. The composer engaged with scripts, the filmmaker with planning paradigms, the biologist with socio economic digital imagery and the environmental scientist with community work. They all have paid attention to each other, they all have shared ‘work in progress’ they were not sure of, and they have all engaged to make the best quality in the limited time that was offered. One can argue that the creatives were running, like they always do, with whatever is possible. However, in all these experiments it is found that teams bonded beyond their own expectation and produced results that surprised them. In the online collaborations of the Venice Exploratorium new dimensions for interaction were explored. Revisiting my dissertation, I realise I have not paid attention to the force of reciprocal creativity to overcome incommensurability. Any jazz musician may have told me, any kid who makes music with peers online as well. Being now in lock-down of the second wave of the pandemic, and living in an increasingly polarised world, I realise we need to study and invest big time in this reciprocal creativity that nurtures humanity and overcomes incommensurability.

2. In my personal experience, building an architecture of personal trust in a formal context is only possible for a specific period of time. When wanting to become sustainable as a self-organising group, formal agreements have to be put in place and responsibilities have to be appointed so that accountability can prevail.

Let the music play on …

VFS_Cahier2.indb 19

27/11/2020 09:58



Pinar Sefkatli, Marco Moretto and Eleonora Sovrani were participants in the Venice Exploratorium. Zola Can curated the Amsterdam Experiment. They were also all four part of the production team and reflect on this experience. Marco: When the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale was postponed for a year, we had to cancel our initial idea for the Exploratorium in a camping setting on the Lido island in Venice. Caroline (Chief Science Officer, Amsterdam) right away suggested doing as much as we could Online. We approached Jane Da Mosto (co-founder, WahV) and Eleonora Sovrani (artist-researcher, WahV) who immediately came on board! In the curatorial team we now had Caroline and Jane as the curators, and Eleonora, Pinar, Zola and me supporting/facilitating and organizing the production. Eleonora: Venice is closely associated with the Biennale, or vice versa, and as WahV, we have always paid special attention to mutual enrichment and also imbalances (potential and real) in the city. We were all curious to find out how people could work together and what they could achieve with just a digital platform as a place to work together. Marco: We decided that, in order to achieve our goal of ‘working with Venice and for Venice’, every track should have a collaborator based in Venice. Eleonora: Since a lot of attention was paid to the experimental process of remote collaboration, it was essential to keep track, in different forms, of the results of the exchange groups and the curatorial team, also with a perspective of a continuation of the project independent of the timing of the Biennale exhibition. Pinar: The documentation took place on, the knowledge sharing platform, set up by the CSO, that displays different kinds of collaboration-based projects. Zola: Where it was partly my job to let participants share their work in progress in the Online environment, I noticed that for some collaborators it was not easy to do. I can imagine that sharing unfinished work makes some people feel vulnerable. Marco: Yes, that is true – artists and creative professionals in general are used to the possibility and the freedom to change everything until the very last moment. Pinar: In academia too, people do not react nicely to the invitation to share their work in progress. It is a new approach for everybody. But this way of working has two beneficial effects. One is that your process becomes transparent. You show another person who may be interested in your work how it is done. Another thing is that for you yourself, it can be useful to see where you came from. Marco: Looking back at the process, it would not have surprised me if some collaborations had failed, but the pairings we made in the beginning all worked out! Zola: In communicating the success of this process to the outside world, it was hard to maintain specificity. Next time, instead of finding a middle ground, I would try to cover the complexity of each track as well as the general message of the Exploratorium. Eleonora: Looking at the process, it should be noted that the curators at the time of writing have still not met each other. The evaluation texts in each chapter of this Cahier provide precious feedback for improving our understanding of the potentials of and limits to long-distance collaborations and of teamwork dynamics when members do not see each other in real life. Pinar: In the end the most important thing I learned is that these kinds of ambitious collaboration projects can work. You can throw an idea in front of people and they will willingly come on board. This was good to see – it gave me more courage to organize something like this again next time.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 20

27/11/2020 09:58



Final project presentations in Venice. Photography by Eleonora Sovrani.

Final project presentations in Amsterdam.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 21

27/11/2020 09:58




We are here Venice (WahV) is an NGO that develops relevant, objective knowledge to inform and support the decision-making processes which will determine the future of the city, its residents and the lagoon. Knowledge is sourced from scientists, architects and other researchers and equally from local experts. Artists play an important role in bridging the gaps in mutual understanding between disciplines and interests. Given the complexity of Venice, as a place to live in and care for, our mission is to understand the factors that determine quality of life together with the limits of what’s possible – in economic, social and environmental terms – and to empower communities to participate more knowledgeably, and more effectively, in political choices. We think of Venice as a mirror on the world; many of its problems are also global – like sea-level rise, other impacts of the climate crisis, and overtourism. Many people seem to be obsessed with Venice, and its fragility – as if by looking at what happens here, they can gain insight into what’s going to happen in their cities. Living in this unique, iconic city is a privilege, one that confers a responsibility to take action to safeguard its future. We see things close up, and if we don’t manage to save Venice, how will the world save itself? The invitation to partner with Caroline Nevejan and her team, to bring the parallel programme of the Dutch Pavilion associated with the Architecture Biennale presented an opportunity to explore the transferability of key Venetian insights to the international, and specifically Dutch, experience and understanding, while also testing the validity of our transdisciplinary methodology and engaging our multi-stakeholder network. The chance to experiment and learn always tickles our scientific vocation. While the pandemic restrictions, combined with the accessibility of digital voice and video exchanges, presented a completely novel mode of collaboration, it also brought an unprecedented set of considerations underlying the need for fundamental changes in Venice as well as everywhere else. The role of WahV in the Exploratorium was to make connections with viable partners and invent ways to capture the expertise, experience and specific skills of the international participants in a way that could result in tangible benefits for Venice. The challenge was noteworthy as no one at WahV had ever met anyone from the Dutch Exploratorium team, nor any of the other participants. In planning these ‘pairings’, we also considered the value of the insights from Venice for their ongoing work and future experiences (once travel restrictions are relaxed).

VFS_Cahier2.indb 22

27/11/2020 09:58


INTRODUCTION: ARCHITECTURES OF TRUST 06 The Venice outcomes of the various tracks fall evenly into three categories: Opening up of parts of the city The Forbidden Garden, Sant’Erasmo 2038, Taking Sands – Fisheye and Scripts of the Lagoon tracks introduced the working groups, followed by the Exploratorium’s audience, to parts of Venice that are usually beyond the range of Biennale projects: the ex-Giardino Botanico of San Giobbe in Cannaregio, the island of Sant’Erasmo, life at the water interface and underwater life. WahV proposed that Studio Wild consider examining the ex-Giardino Botanico as it is currently earmarked for redevelopment. The dossier produced during the Exploratorium is being submitted to the municipality with the proposal that the historical background and cultural significance of the site be integrated into official plans and briefings for the eventual developers. Talking Sands – Fisheye and Scripts of the Lagoon already had specific ideas of what they needed from Venice, and WahV connected them with scientists who could provide supporting information, recordings and data. Going forward, these creative elaborations will help to build stronger (emotional) connections to the ecological dependencies of the Venice lagoon system. The mixed live/virtual Sant’Erasmo 2038 exploration during the Exploratorium drew upon sci-fi to frame a new way of envisioning the life of the island. Intellectual refinement The Arsenals of Globalisation, To Protest Or Not To Protest, Tides of Tourism and Zoöp tracks achieved some form of methodological advancement that will be incorporated in the practices of the specific track participants, as explained in their respective descriptions in this Cahier 2. Activation of community engagement Both the Radical Observations and Vanishing Homelands tracks have turned into ongoing initiatives, specifically as a result of the successful experimentation that began under the umbrella of the Exploratorium. WahV established the specific connections to the under-utilized public space near the Arsenale, and with the weakly integrated diaspora of Bangladesh, in the hope that this initiative would catalyse more community engagement. In the case of the ‘green triangle’ public space, regular gatherings of small groups have continued, and by early 2021 a proposal for the green area will be produced by WahV that can be carried out by a combination of volunteers and in collaboration with the municipality or the officially appointed gardening team. At the time of writing, the exact next steps for the Vanishing Homelands initiative are still being planned by WahV, the Bangladeshi community and the documentary makers, to both explore the parallels further and leverage the Bangladesh situation to communicate Venice’s flooding challenges as well as the worldwide outlook.

15 18 10 19 07 12 09 17 16 08

These legacies present an interesting set of responses to WahV's ‘uninvited propositions’ in the 2019 How Was It For You report, illustrating not only the extensive mutual benefits which can be made possible through imaginative, collaborative work, and under the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the Exploratorium, but also for future international exhibitions.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 23

27/11/2020 09:58



In the first Cahier several necessary Values for Survival are identified that influence early 21st-century urban social and ecological developments. Transdisciplinary collaboration is at the core of these developments, and this is the focus of Cahier 2. Only slowly it dawns on me that we have been rediscovering solidarity in the process. In the second half of the 20th century, solidarity was considered a value of great importance. Fighting for freedom in WWII and in the decolonization wars in the years after inspired the establishment of the United Nations (UN) and the acceptance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Even though the UN and the UDHR are critiqued severely, an international standard for freedom and well-being has been under deliberation for over seventy years now. However, the once so wholeheartedly embraced sense of solidarity has evaporated under 25 years of neoliberal shameless hunt for profit and the increasing ubiquitous presence of media power in every detail of personal lives. Only now do I realize that in these detrimental twenty-five years, our collective imagination also has been affected to the core, while imagination is foundational to empathy and compassion and to the possible foreseeable future. Lives of others come to us as data and offer information on a daily basis. When these are told as stories, built with imagination, they trigger compassion and the desire to fight for the planet and the humanity we share. In the Exploratorium every track has offered to share their thoughts not only on the outcomes they have produced, but also on the way they have worked together and the insights this gave to each of the members of the team. Even though these collaborations are professional interactions in the first place, different elements of solidarity as a key Value for Survival have emerged.

When asking the question ‘Can intuition and experience be shared between people who do not know each other and cannot meet?’, the answer to this question is a firm ‘yes’ provided that certain capabilities are met. Firstly, while the cultural sector and the arts have been hit very hard by the pandemic effects, and arts education is hardly ever a priority, it appears that creative skills are core to interaction Online. Secondly, when success is defined as having an effect in the real world that is intentional, it appears that for collaborations between people who do not know each other and cannot meet, the building of architectures of trust is pivotal to the outcome. Ultimately it is found in and between these fifteen experiments that we need to even reinvent solidarity for the times to come, when global climate dynamics are expected to have increasingly detrimental local effects for people around the globe.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 24

27/11/2020 09:58



When engaging with people one does not know and cannot meet, the collaboration is sustained by respect for each other’s experience and expertise on the matter at hand. People want to live in a culture in which they can be together through the generations. A community cannot be built in a short period. One needs to adapt to the time it takes. Also configurations between human and more-than-human life are communities and need to be heard by policy and acquire rights by law.


By understanding the context, new avenues for possible intervention are discovered in which the focus on a specific perspective helps us to take position. History creates the context for possible futures. Other than what the media often suggest, protest is an act of engagement and care. When in need of action in a place where one cannot be physically present, trust a friend to act on your behalf.

09, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20

Individuals engage with imagination. Once one is able to recognize and acknowledge the pain of others, new avenues for communication and interaction emerge. Giving voice in unexpected, imaginative and artistic ways to unheard pain and unseen potential, offers a deep sense of compassion that brings collective and personal engagement into the flow.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 25

07, 13, 18, 19, 20 08, 09, 16, 17, 20 07, 11, 17, 20 09, 10, 11, 15, 16, 20

11, 12, 16, 17, 19 / 07, 08, 10, 11, 15, 17, 18 10, 12, 13, 16, 17, 18, 19 12, 13, 15, 17, 18

12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, 19 08, 10, 11, 12, 13 07, 08, 13, 14, 15, 18, 19 07, 08, 13, 15, 18, 19

27/11/2020 09:58


VALUES FOR SURVIVAL: CAHIER 2 06 CHAPTERS 07 — 20 7. ARSENALS OF GLOBALIZATION Tools still in use in Venice and found in archaeological excavations in Amsterdam are presented as a catalogue in which the visual technical Venetian expertise is juxtaposed by the Dutch scientific presentation of the same tools of 300 years ago. Discovering the convergence in maritime tools at such a basic level of detail exposes previously unrecognizable areas of common ground in these two European deltas and unveils the significance of craft for understanding history.

8. VANISHING HOMELANDS Venetians and the Bangladesh diaspora in Venice are connected by the threat of sea-level rise. The Bangladeshis fled from their home country as a consequence of climate change, to a country with a similar threat of rising waters. Without sharing a language, the team engages with Venetian Bangladeshi climate refugees and with Venetian families who are experiencing the increased destruction of floods through generations.


Studying tourism in Venice, Amsterdam and Glasgow, a new, more organic approach to the development of policies for tourism is developed during a unique moment in time when there is very little tourism because of the COVID-19 lock-down. Spatial, temporal and demographic analyses are executed in relation to one another to enhance or to weaken tides of tourism in certain areas, at certain times, for certain groups.

10. TALKING SANDS – FISHEYE Underwater ecological challenges are made more visible by a new aesthetic, mapping the complexity of factors that influence the life of Vongole in the Venetian lagoon. Vongole are the little shells that grow in the lagoon and that are crucial for the Venetian Pasta di Vongole. The team includes social, economic, geological and biological data, and applies artistic graphic skills for rendering the complex changing reality more understandable.

11. WHAT DO WE NEED? Because of COVID-19, all meetings with residents for input in the new spatial vision, which aligns the initiatives for new buildings, urban landscape and infrastructure for the coming years, were cancelled. Then the municipality asks seven culturally smart catalysts to invent various ways to catch stories in all seven boroughs of Amsterdam during lock-down. The seven story-catchers ask residents and entrepreneurs, ‘What do you need in the future?’

12. PROTEST OR NOT TO PROTEST WahV (We are here Venice)’s continuing campaign to anchor the debate about the future for cruise ships and the Black Lives Matter demonstrations during the weeks of the Exploratorium fuel discussions on protest and art. Sharing experiences and reflecting upon these, a bold statement is formulated and a beautiful collection of questions is gathered that every individual is confronted with, once you decide to engage.

13. SPACE OF OTHER The patterns of the Space of Other resonate with the performer’s childhood memories of the vibrant borough Fin do Mundo in Lisbon. His long-time partner in performance travels to the borough where he guides her through his memories by phone-searching for elements of recognition in a place that has been more or less completely demolished over time. It appears that the power of shared imagination is able to revitalize memories of a place that is destroyed.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 26

27/11/2020 09:58


INTRODUCTION: ARCHITECTURES OF TRUST 06 14. THE UNFOLDING ARCH OF FORGING FANTASY A trail of possible meetings, a tragedy, inspiring books, websites and a WhatsApp conversation that led to the Commedia dell’arte, missed scenarios and plots, and a scanned, sold-out book full of fans inspire a new perspective on communication in times of climate crisis. Created in a dialogue with text and images, as we have done for centuries, a plea emerges for playfulness and fantasy.

15. FORBIDDEN GARDEN Is it possible to design a garden for ‘forbidden plants’ in the abandoned Hortus Botanicus of Venice? When it becomes clear that it is not possible to enter the premises, the focus on the wall surrounding the Hortus Botanicus unveils an extraordinarily history. Even though all libraries are closed during the COVID-19 lock-down, diverse historical sources inspire the fine drawing that represents the depth of thinking that has been put into the space and its situation.

16. RADICAL OBSERVATIONS Inspired by the work of the Food Forest in Amsterdam Zuidoost, a new community gather on the Green Triangle in Venice. Guided by the Amsterdam experience, local community organizers include residents in learning about green spaces in a city and how one can become a group to take care of such a space. This experience is an occasion to start exploring a new methodology for engaging people in relation to the revitalization of specific areas.

17. ZOÖP Zoöp is a formal collaboration between human and non-human actors in a specific place, which aims to even acquire legal status as a convivial configuration between human and non-human actors. Conversations about experiments in a Berlin communal space, the Paris Zone Sensible, an Amsterdam house garden and the salt marshes in Venice trigger a lot of new thinking and reaffirm existing ideas on approaches for protecting human with more-thanhuman configurations.

18. SANT’ERASMO 2038 Different researchers and filmmakers decide to explore the reality of Sant’Erasmo, a large island in the Venetian lagoon inhabited mainly by market gardeners with very few tourists. Finding creative ways to communicate through streaming cameras, they travel together and meet in 2038, while not being in the same place as in the summer of 2020. Artichokes, a playground and robot fish seem to dominate the scene.

19. SCRIPTS OF THE LAGOON Can the lagoon have a voice to protect itself? Is it possible to imagine a script of the lagoon? Two marine scientists have identified the particular sounds of over 100 types of fish. With the sound of the fish, the composer creates a composition which generates a virtual underwater world. The sounds and movements can be the basis for a new imaginary script. A very powerful emotional stimulation arises from a dimension of lagoon life that is otherwise unknown.

20. CITY SCIENCE In the last few years many cities have positioned a small group to connect research in the universities to policy needs. After three conferences and five online thematic workshops during the lock-down, the cities conclude that City Science needs to be recognized as its own paradigm, in which academic and scientific research is complimented with design practices on different levels for bridging research to policymaking.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 27

27/11/2020 09:58







06 07 08 09 10 11


Complex participatory system


14 15




17 18 19


VFS_Cahier2.indb 28

12 13


27/11/2020 09:58



Climate refugees live everywhere Experiencing changes in time and space Memories construct identities Imagination rebuilds the abandoned place

To protest is to engage Think where and when to build walls Include the non-human Scale matters

Craft and craftsmanship must survive Technology serves relations It connects archives and worlds apart Develop systems for stories

Trouble can make outcomes better Nurture diversity in present, past and future Break the wall of poverty Offer ‘real life’ experiences to those in power

Understand beyond language To make collaboration itself survive Creative exchanges create togetherness Online and need the supporting of inner drives

To become aware you are a group To adapt to the time it takes Rhythm defines experience Including social dynamics of place

Perceive detail in relational context Respect all forms of life Acquiring awareness of multispecies is life-changing Compassion is a force of survival


VFS_Cahier2.indb 29

27/11/2020 09:58



Jerzy Gawronski Archaeologist Jerzy Gawronski is an archaeologist specializing in the early modern period. He works as Professor of Maritime and Urban Archaeology of the Late Middle Ages and the early modern period at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and as municipal archaeologist in the Monuments and Archaeology department of the city of Amsterdam. In this dual function he is committed to taking an integrated approach to material culture through making connections between history and archaeology. His research activities are focused on two relevant themes: a) the archaeology of shipping, the Dutch maritime expansion and overseas heritage, b) the archaeology of cities, in particular the city of Amsterdam, and urban material culture.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 30

Francesco Tiboni Archaeologist Francesco Tiboni is a naval and underwater archaeologist, and a specialist in ancient shipbuilding and naval iconography. A member of the International Scientific Committee (2005–2008) of the UNESCO Pile Dwelling Sites List of the Alpine Region project, in the last ten years he has directed the excavation and recovery of a series of wrecks dating from the Roman era to the modern age. He was involved in several projects on behalf of the Italian Ministry for Cultural Heritage, and between 2004 and 2010 performed some underwater excavations in the city of Venice and in the Venetian Lagoon, particularly focusing on the Arsenale. As a tutor of the Nautical Archaeology Society, from 2012 he has also been an overseas correspondent for the Mariner’s Mirror, the journal of the Society for Nautical Research from Portsmouth, UK.

Gilberto Penzo Expert in traditional Adriatic shipbuilding Gilberto Penzo was born in Chioggia in the province of Venice in 1954, where his maternal family had a shipyard that built every type of local boat: sandoli, batei in pisso, bragossi and trabaccoli, but also large motorboats, yachts and fast rowing boats. His father was a naval mechanic with a workshop, also in Chioggia, for installing and repairing the engines of fishing boats. The nautical world immediately entered his blood, with its beauty and hardness, with its pragmatism; above all, he assimilated the taste for doing, not of executing, of course, of thinking about a project or a solution to a problem and carrying it out with your own hands, without intermediate steps, without downtime and unnecessary chatter. In these years of activity, he has tried, completely independently, to combine practical knowledge with theoretical knowledge, and to give dignity to a world seen, in the best cases, only as a folkloric backdrop. His goal is to save the last traditional boats and the memory of the techniques that generated them, by recording this world, now disappeared, in his books. These are books that only want to be practical manuals for answering, not already-learned historical questions, but simple and arduous questions, which now only children can do: What does it look like inside? How does it work? How can I build it?

27/11/2020 09:58



Willem van Zoetendaal Graphic designer Van Zoetendaal is a graphic designer who has been producing photography books since the early nineties. In 1994 he started publishing his own books. He has curated photography exhibitions in the Netherlands, France, Japan and in Korea. He has been active as a gallery owner for contemporary photography from 2000 until 2014, and in February 2014 he changed his gallery space into a studio to develop his own art and design projects.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 31

Venice and Amsterdam. Arsenals of Globalization The Arsenale of Venice is nowadays an urban landmark and the core location of the Biennale. Historically, it was the maritime power centre of the Republic of Venice, where the naval and merchant fleet of the city state was mass produced. The formula of self-contained and large-scale shipbuilding yards can be recognized in another maritime city, Amsterdam. Although incomparable in size and age, the Oostenburg shipyard of the trading organization of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) can be considered identical to the Arsenale. Both arsenals represent predecessors of industrial production and urban centres of globalization linked to shipping networks. The exploratory project of archaeologists Jerzy Gawronski and Francesco Tiboni, and Venetian shipbuilding expert Gilberto Penzo aims to show this shared identity through the material culture of shipbuilding tools. Archaeological finds from Amsterdam and traditional tools from Venice are combined in a catalogue designed by Willem van Zoetendaal, based on the photographic atlas of c. 12.000 finds recovered during the Amsterdam North/Southline metro project.

27/11/2020 09:58



Arsenale of Venice According to a commemorative plaque from 1825 which is still visible in the Arsenale, the origins of the Venetian shipyard complex date back to 1104. Although this early date is fascinating, it is not confirmed by any historical record. The first documentary evidence for a fortified structure built on the two islands called Zimole (twins) dates from 1220. This historical dating is confirmed by archaeological research in different areas of the complex, first by Casoni in the first half of the 19th century and later by other scholars in more recent times. From an urbanistic perspective, the choice to locate the Arsenale on the Zimole isles in the area of San Pietro di Castello was probably linked to the presence of a big water basin, near the city’s political centre at San Marco and connected by direct shipping lanes to the sea through the mouth of San Nicolò del Lido and other lagoon routes. Furthermore, the Zimole isles were connected by the transport route of timber from the area of the Cadore to the Venetian lagoon, to supply wood to all the city’s shipyards. The first complex covered a walled area of about 25 ha, surrounded by 4 km of canals. It was first enlarged in 1303 with the creation of the Arsenale Nuovo, including a new dock and a series of workshops and warehouses, among which was the Casa del Canevo for the storage of hemp and the production of ropes and canvas. During the 14th and 15th centuries, some existing buildings of the Arsenale were modified and the general structure was expanded with new buildings. In consequence of the new shipbuilding techniques in the mid-15th century, all the slipways of the complex were roofed. The growth of Venetian power and influence in the Mediterranean led, in 1473, to the creation of a new wing of the complex, the Arsenale Nuovissimo, which was enlarged on several occasions up to 1573. In 1564 the complex reached its maximum size, 26 ha, due to the creation of a new dock called Darsena delle Galeazze. From the very start, the Arsenale included different areas around the main docks and the slipways for different activities connected to shipbuilding, among which were areas for gunpowder production and rope-factories. The Arsenale expanded over the centuries in line with the growth of Venice as the maritime power centre of the Mediterranean. The new buildings were primarily added to its original core, thus respecting the particular urban

VFS_Cahier2.indb 32

structure of Venice and creating a strong connection between the city and its shipyard. At the peak of the power of Venice, the Arsenale represented, together with the marketplace of the Rialto and the political–religious centre of San Marco, the third cornerstone of the city, both functionally and urbanistically. From the 14th century, the shipyard was considered one of the most important maritime facilities in the Western world, as it was already organized as a proper industrial complex, integrating two main assets: the construction of ships and the manufacturing of all materials for equipping ships. The Arsenale was primarily conceived for the construction of galleys, the typical Venetian vessels, but during the 17th century, with the diffusion of new ship-types, it underwent some structural changes, like the enlargement of the entrance channel in 1686 which marked both its decline and its resilience to it. It is not a coincidence that in 1778, in a period which marked the downfall of the Venetian sea power, the Venetians decided to build a new mould-loft in the Arsenale to store, season and cut wood. Shortly after, the leading role of the Arsenale came to an end, as in 1797 Napoleonic troops entered Venice and sacked the yard, leaving only its galleys, considered obsolete.

Arsenal of Amsterdam Amsterdam had two large-scale, centrally organized maritime arsenals: one for the Admiralty and the other for the Dutch East India Company (VOC). Both complexes were situated on artificial islands (Kattenburg and Oostenburg) which were built in the middle of the 17th century along the eastern waterfront of the historical city centre. The VOC was established in 1602 to develop international trade with Asia. The commercial enterprise was part of the early modern globalization of the 17th and 18th centuries and formed the basis of the 19th-century colonial system of the Netherlands. For the sake of trade, the VOC used political means as well as military power and was engaged in forced labor and slavery as part of an oppressive policy to maintain a workforce in Asia. The Oostenburg yard was the core of the company’s intercontinental shipping system. Here, up to 500 ocean-going armed merchant vessels were constructed and fully equipped from the 1660s until the yard’s closure in 1799. This production process was large-scale and standardized, according to an annual production of three ships, and around 1750 even five. In the 19th century, the complex became the cradle for the new steel

27/11/2020 09:58



and steam industry, for the manufacturing of ships, engines and trains. In the 20th century, heavy equipment, such as fuel engines and electric trains, was produced here. Essentially, the VOC arsenal consisted of four interconnected islands which housed a series of specialized utility buildings and facilities. The main building was the Zeemagazijn (sea warehouse) on the first island, with a central gate providing access to the other islands. It was a multifunctional building used for storage, distribution and processing of provisions, equipment and merchandise, one of the largest structures of its kind in the 17th and 18th centuries (215 m long, 30 m wide, 7 storeys high). On the second island were two workshops for the manufacturing of masts, sloops, gun carriages and wooden rigging parts. The third island contained four buildings with a forge, an iron products storage, a pharmacy and the ship carpentry workshop, and four slipways along its the north bank for the construction of ships. To the east of these three islands was a fourth oblong island with the combined 500-metre-long ropewalks of the VOC and the Admiralty. With at least 15 vessels sailing to Asia annually, the yard produced an intercontinental bridge of ships which supported the company’s overseas administrative and communication system, and transport and trade lines. The VOC arsenal was the starting point (or end point, depending on the direction of the journey) of the globalization network of Amsterdam. Equally, the yard as a self-generating machine was the focal point of hundreds of supply lines from the city of Amsterdam for materials which were indispensable for the arsenal’s production. This international trading metropolis was a gathering point for thousands of products from all surrounding European regions and overseas territories. A brief list of supplies clearly illustrates its international scope (excluding the local and regional Dutch products): timber from Scandinavia, Poland and Germany, tar from Russia, hemp from Riga, iron nails and fittings from Liège, glass from Bohemia, quicksilver from Austria, copperware from Nürnberg, wine and liquor from France, Germany, Spain and Portugal, iron guns from Sweden,

VFS_Cahier2.indb 33

trumpets from Leipzig, pewter spoons from London, cantharidum (Spanish flies) from Spain, octants from England, oxen from Denmark, butter from Ireland, grain from Prussia and Poland, prunes from France and fish from Norway. Annually, some 700 suppliers in Amsterdam, consisting of trading houses, shops, artisans, workshops and factories, were engaged to sustain the shipbuilding machinery of Oostenburg. Not only were its spatial layout and material appearance on a large scale and functionally differentiated, but similar principles can be applied to its labour organization and logistics of the working floor. In 1750, around 1,200 employees, consisting of some 80-90 staff and 1,100 workmen, manned this maritime production centre. The organization structure was pyramidal with three bookkeepers at the top, while the broad base consisted of a finely crystallized network of separate working units. Some fifteen main artisanal labour units can be distinguished next to individual sections for transport, storage and security, and an administrative staff of 65 specialized functions. Such a horizontal work division aimed at standardized and efficient assemblage, and the mass production of wooden ships appears industrial. Instead of the traditional energy sources of wind, human and animal power, the 19th-century industrial technology of steam and steel would have fitted well with the 18th-century production system of the VOC arsenal which created the basis of modern globalization. Both Venice and Amsterdam created similar shipbuilding arsenals with a comparable spatial and functional organization. Despite their geographical, political and cultural differences, both arsenals were cradles for globalization, where the workmen shared identical tools and instruments, defined by the rules of maritime technology. A selective overview of typical tools is presented, with objects from an archaeological context in Amsterdam and a historical context in Venice.

27/11/2020 09:58



Catalogue of archaeological finds and historical tools Boat hook (Bootshaak) Iron LxW:310x115 Ø:40 1500‑1800 Boat hook (Bootshaak) Iron LxW:300x125 Ø:48 1600‑1700 Boat hook (Bootshaak) Iron LxW:250x112 Ø:44 1500‑1800

Boat hook (Bootshaak) Iron LxW:280x105 Ø:38 1500‑1800 Boat hook (Bootshaak) Iron LxW:257x100 Ø:36 1500‑1800 Boat hook (Bootshaak) Iron LxW:410x181 Ø:54 1600‑1800 Boat hook (Bootshaak)) Iron/wood LxW:270x85x36 Ø:36 1750‑1850 photography Harold Strak

Note: The archaeological finds of Amsterdam tools are photographed by Harold Strak and have been excavated in the river Amstel during the construction of the North/South metro line (see catalogue Stuff, or website: https:// belowthesurface. amsterdam L= lenght, W= width

VFS_Cahier2.indb 34

27/11/2020 09:58



Boat hook (Mezzo marinaio, Gancio d’accosto, ven. Ganso, Anger) Wrought iron, wooden shaft L 1,5 to 3 m including the shaft Tool to push or draw boats or to recuperate floating objects. There are basically two types. The most known one with a curved hook is still in use on board of ships. The other model with a straight end and a much longer shaft is used to move floating tree trunks or other obstacles during river transport. photography Gilberto Penzo

Note: the historical tools are photographed by Gilberto Penzo, and are still in use in shipyards and artisanal workshops in Venice and the Adriatic region

VFS_Cahier2.indb 35

27/11/2020 09:58



Sliding bevel (Zweihaak) Ebony/brass LxW:163x18, units in Amsterdam inches 1700‑1820 Sliding bevel (Zweihaak) Ebony/brass LxW:197x12, units slightly less than Amsterdam inches 1700‑1820 photography Harold Strak

Plumb level (Waterpas en schietlood) Brass LxW:51x14 1800‑1937 Plumb level (Waterpas en schietlood) Copper alloy LxBxH:100x10x10 Ø:10 1900‑2005 Plumb level (Waterpas en schietlood) Brass LxBxD:100x15x0.5 (brass) 1925‑2005 Plumb level (Waterpas en schietlood) Brass LxBxD:100x15x1.2 1925‑2005

VFS_Cahier2.indb 36

27/11/2020 09:58



Sliding bevel (Squadra zoppa, ven. Squara sota) Wood, iron, copper alloy L 20 - 40 cm Bevel square with two hinging arms to measure angles. This measuring device was used specifically in shipbuilding to calculate the angles between the hull planking and the frames. Archipendulum (Archipendolo, ven. Archipensolo) Wood, string, lead or another heavy metal W 40 - 80 cm Tool to measure if a surface is horizontal or to calculate its inclination, consisting of an A-shaped frame with a plumb lead on a string hanging from its top. photography Gilberto Penzo

VFS_Cahier2.indb 37

27/11/2020 09:58



Adze (Dissel) Iron LxW:215x80 1400‑1650 Adze (Dissel) Iron LxW:140x90 1400‑1650 Adze (Dissel) Iron LxW:220x90 1550‑1750 photography Harold Strak

VFS_Cahier2.indb 38

27/11/2020 09:58



Carpenter’s adze (Ascia, ven. Àssa) Steel, wooden handle L 40 cm - 1 m including the shaft Cutting tool used by shipbuilders or carpenters, consisting of a hoe-like orthogonal blade. photography Gilberto Penzo

VFS_Cahier2.indb 39

27/11/2020 09:58



Single bevel broad axe (Kantrechtbijl) Iron LxW:165x185 1700‑1800 Single bevel broad axe (Kantrechtbijl) Iron LxW:108x63 1450‑1800 Single bevel broad axe (Kantrechtbijl) Iron LxW:200x130 1450‑1800 photography Harold Strak

VFS_Cahier2.indb 40

27/11/2020 09:58



Single bevel broad axe (Dolaora, ven. Dolaora) Wrought iron, wooden handle L 50 - 80 cm including the handle Axe used to square tree trunks by cutting the wood surface vertically, holding the tool with one or two hands. For not injuring the knuckles, the blade is asymmetrically offset from the handle. photography Gilberto Penzo

VFS_Cahier2.indb 41

27/11/2020 09:58



Spoon drill bit (Lepelboor) Iron LxW:93.5x8 Ø:6 1350‑1700 Spoon drill bit (Lepelboor) Iron LxW:97x11 Ø:8 1350‑1700 Spoon drill bit (Lepelboor) Iron LxW:103x10 Ø:5 1350‑1700 Spoon drill bit (Lepelboor) Iron LxW:103x9 Ø:6.5 1350‑1700 Spoon drill bit (Lepelboor) Iron LxW:104x9 Ø:6.5 1350‑1700 Spoon drill bit (Lepelboor) Iron LxW:105x8 Ø:6.5 1350‑1700 Spoon drill bit (Lepelboor) Iron LxW:109x12 Ø:9 1350‑1700 Spoon drill bit (Lepelboor) Iron LxW:104.5x12 Ø:8 1800‑1875 Spoon drill bit (Lepelboor) Iron LxW:127x14 Ø:11 1350‑1700 Spoon drill bit (Lepelboor) Iron LxW:230x14 Ø:13 1350‑1700 photography Harold Strak

VFS_Cahier2.indb 42

27/11/2020 09:58



Auger (Trivella, ven. Verigola) Wrought iron, wooden handle L 20 - 100 cm Tool to drill holes in wood for nails or wooden pegs consisting of a cylindrical shaft with a spoon shaped bit. photography Gilberto Penzo

VFS_Cahier2.indb 43

27/11/2020 09:58



Nail (Spijker) Iron LxW:245x12 Ø:30 1400‑1875 Nail (Spijker) Iron LxW:260x15 Ø:34 1400‑1875

Nail (Spijker) Iron LxW:270x13 Ø:37 1400‑1875 Nail (Spijker) Iron LxW:130x10 1400‑1875 Nail (Spijker) Iron LxW:120x9.4 1400‑1875 photography Harold Strak

VFS_Cahier2.indb 44

27/11/2020 09:58



Nail (Chiodo, ven. Ciòdo) Wrought iron L 3 - 40 cm The nail is the most common element for joining wooden parts in the carpentry of ships or buildings. These traditional types have a square section and are hand made according to the desired size. photography Gilberto Penzo

VFS_Cahier2.indb 45

27/11/2020 09:58



Caulking iron (Breeuwijzer) Iron LxW:155x33 Ø:35 1400‑1875 Caulking iron (Breeuwijzer) Iron LxW:175x40 Ø:33 1400‑1875 Caulking iron (Breeuwijzer) Iron LxW:165x60 Ø:41 1550‑1875 Caulking iron (Breeuwijzer) Iron LxW:220x51 Ø:26 1550‑1875 Caulking iron (Breeuwijzer) Iron LxW:165x40 Ø:34 1550‑1925 Caulking iron (Breeuwijzer) Iron LxW:150x37 1825‑1925 photography Harold Strak

VFS_Cahier2.indb 46

27/11/2020 09:58



Caulking iron (Ferri da calafataggio, ven. feri da calafĂ o) Steel L c. 20 cm Tool for caulking, to make ships and boats watertight, consisting of a simple chisel with a blunt edge to push hemp in the seams of the hull planking. photography Gilberto Penzo

VFS_Cahier2.indb 47

27/11/2020 09:58


Methodology. Our working method was extremely practical and based on mobile phone or email contacts. Jerzy Gawronski (JG) acted as a pivot in connecting the three other participants and their work to each other. 6/5–8/5 start The first contact was made to Franceso Tiboni (FT) by phone 6/5, discussing the possibilities of the concept linking Venice and Amsterdam by the archaeology of the Arsenals, followed by emails on 7 and 8/5, including Caroline Nevejan (CN) in CC. 18–19/5, 20/5, 21/5, 24/5 text and image concepts The first text concepts for historical introductions on the Arsenals of both cities were emailed between JG and FT on 18 and 19/5, resulting in a first text written and edited by JG and FT, with two historical images of the two Arsenals. On 20/5, JG started discussion with FT on images of archaeological finds and maritime tools from the Venetian context as a basis for developing a catalogue, and emailed examples of Stuff catalogue (and link to Belowthesurface site) with maritime tools from the Amsterdam design project to Willem van Zoetendaal (WZ) with object photos by Harold Strak. Now also came the first email and telephone contact on 21/5, with WZ on the design possibilities of a shared catalogue. On 20/5, there were emails between Pinar Sefkatli (PS) (3x) and CN for supplying texts and registering the project page of Arsenals on the Open Research platform, together with FT and WZ as participants, with biographies on 21/5 and 24/5. The date 3/6 was the Zoom meeting on the introduction and progress of the projects, with WZ joining for the Arsenals project, evaluated by email with JG on 3/6. 4/6, 16–23/6, 25–26/6 explorations for images On 4/6, WZ and FT finalized the summary and introduction text, established the general concept, selected the Amsterdam tools available, then searched for equivalent images from Venice.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 48


Internet problems caused a delay in transferring images (large files), so there was email contact 16/6–23/6, resulting in contact emails from FT to Gilberto Penzo (GP), the naval technician expert, to invite him to join to supply expertise and images on Venetian maritime tools for the catalogue. The period 25–26/6 saw an exchange of information and images between GP, JG and FT. On 25/6, GP provided 30 images of Venetian tools photographed by him, and JG provided Belowthesurface links to get an idea of comparable Amsterdam objects. Images were transferred to WZ, with emails to Marco Moretti (MM) to register GP as the fourth project participant (4/7). 4–13/7 finalizing pdf contribution This working period aimed to finalize the completion of the Arsenal pdf contribution, resulting in a 5-day (7–13/7) intensive email editing exchange between all participants. Around 4/7, WZ prepared the first concept integrated catalogue with images provided on 25/6. On 4–7/7, there was email and telephone contact between JG and WZ establishing the concept to share. Following this, on days 7–13/7, there was re-exchange between GP and FT for editing and correcting and VV, first concentrating on catalogue texts and image choices (GP), with biographies (FT), photos of participants and the total layout (WZ, GP). On 9/7, the first integral concept ready was also emailed to CN for project progress information, then the following days finalizing the details of the biographies. On 13/7, the pdf was emailed to PS and CN for publication on the Open Research platform. On 10/7, there was a Zoom meeting between JG, CN and Jane on the status of the Arsenals project to prepare for the Exploratorium meeting on 14/7. On 14/7 came the Exploratorium, with JG and WZ participating live in the meeting through Mediamatic, and GP through Zoom from his workshop in Venice. Mail contact JG FT 7/5, 8/5, 18/5, 19/5, 20/5 (5x), 3/6, 4/6, 16/6 (4x), 18/6 (4x), 19/6, 20/6, 21/623/6, 24/6 (2x), 25/6 (3x), 26/6 (2x), 7/7,

8/7 (3x), 9/7 (3x), 13/7, 14/7 WZ 21/5, 3/6, 4/6, 16/6 (3x), 25/6, 5/7, 6/7 (2x), 7/7 (4x), 9/7 (2x), 10/7 (2x), 11/7, 13/7 PS 20/5 (3x), 21/5, 24/5, 13/7 CN 20/5, 24/6, 7/7 9/7, 13/7 (3x) GP 25/6 (3x), 26/6 (3x), 6/7 (2x), 7/7 (3x), 8/7 (5x), 9/7 (3x), 13/7, 14/7 (2x) MM 3/7, 4/7 (2x) Tel WhatsApp contact FT 18/5 (2x), 20/5 (7x, 3x images), 4/6, 8/6, 20/6, 22/6., 6/7 (4x), GP 25/6, 6/7 WZ 24/6, 25/6, 6/7, 7/7 (11x), 8/7 (4x), 9/7 (3x), 13/7 (4x) Personal experience questions to the four participants: a. Describe one or two significant moments in this collaboration. a. Describe one or two significant moments in this collaboration. JG: A significant moment was the connection with the technical expertise of GP to be able to find equivalents for the Amsterdam maritime tools: everything seem to fall into place. GP: It was interesting and constructive for me to exchange knowledge and personal opinions with scholars from other countries. FT: I think it was when we first thought about the possibility of creating a very close cultural and material parallel between Venice and Amsterdam as maritime powers of their time, on the basis of the material culture readable through the archaeological finds of the two cities. From that moment on, we had a precise idea of how material culture could be a link to span time and geographical distance. WZ: Archaeologist Jerzy Gawronski was the main contact person for all of us. He directed/orchestrated the whole idea of the project and succeeded in realizing the exchange between the Italian professionals and us. After receiving images of tools from Mr Penzo, my role was doing image editing, ordering and combining

27/11/2020 09:58


it with the text (text by Gawronski and Penzo), and displaying all the ingredients in a straightforward and crystal-clear layout. It was a dialogue between the two approaches of photographic explanation of shipbuilding tools. b. What did you discover in this project? JG: What I discovered was the apparent simplicity of the idea of comparing the two Arsenals by their tools, through material culture: it was meant to be a test and the test succeeded in the sense that in a relatively short period from scratch, a catalogue and historical context could be created, and that this concept could be transferred into a readable pdf. GP: Reconfirming that the world of builders is similar in all countries. FT: I discovered that though Amsterdam and Venice belong to two different cultures, often feeling really different and far away from each other, archaeology allows us to identify some common elements of the human behaviours of these two worlds, during a modern period such as early modernity. During this project, we had the chance to find physical evidence of what we often study just as a theoretical assumption, particularly when related to prehistory, that is, the idea that ‘in different times and places, humans used to respond to the same issues by adopting similar solutions.’ WZ: It confirmed my idea that the ‘language’ of photographic material is never universal. c. How would you use this knowledge in your future work? JG: To continue to develop projects in an explicitly multidisciplinary way, trying to find connections between science, material culture/technology and design. GP: That it is better to work with the Dutch, and in general with foreigners, rather than with Italians.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 49


FT: The project has shown how, particularly when dealing with practical worlds like those of navigation and shipbuilding, a multidisciplinary method is useful for a precise study of archaeological contexts. And this means not only close cooperation between scholars or the academic bodies of different countries, but also close cooperation between practical experts and artisans. Possibly a new way of studying these topics could be a sort of return to the practical world of the almost-lost traditions that we have still time to preserve. WZ text: general personal experience I once learned at art school that a cigar butt can be at least as beautiful as a freshly manufactured cigar in a box from the factory. There are fine examples of this in the history of the visual arts, such as photos of cigar butts found on the street by Irving Penn or photos of cigar remnants by Paul Kooiker. I look at the archaeological finds of the North/Southline in a similar way: every excavated object, often severely damaged by the ravages of time, has acquired its own character. There is nothing more beautiful than an excavated twisted brass bird cage that has lain in the river bed for years. It not only moves you as a sculpture, but also shakes up your imagination because you wonder which birds have lived in this cage and in which living room. The photography of the archaeological finds in the image atlas of the North/ Southline were photographed after they had been preserved, cleaned and provided with a function description, including size and estimated date. They were photographed (by Harold Strak) on a light box with light from above and below so that they did not show shadows and seemed to float in space. Completely themselves. Often, all objects are captured from the front, side and back. The physical position in which the objects are ultimately placed in an archaeological context is related to their function. According to science, you show a door handle in a horizontal position as it can be seen when the door is closed or open, and

not when you move the handle in a vertical position to open the door. You show a knife with the handle up but a toothbrush with the brush up. I think it is above all a designer’s challenge to try out all the possibilities regarding organization and size within such a well-defined framework. Moreover, this concept provides a visual extra fact, namely: the objects as photos begin to resemble hieroglyphs. In the Exploratorium Cahier, something is created which is already happening in the Amsterdam Stuff image atlas. The individual character of a self-contained object becomes more powerful in the vicinity of other objects. And there is a ‘look–read dynamic’. This is reinforced by the fact that the captions are printed together in blue and at an appropriate distance (and not in black), which makes the objects more prominent. First look, then read. On the Italian side, photos are shown that were taken by hand, probably with an iPhone. They are objects that are still in use for shipbuilding (and have been for centuries). Mr Penzo has taken a position that quite clearly shows the function of the object. Not straight from the front or to the side, but from an oblique perspective, laid down and insulated on a plank or cloth for immediate use; you can see that well in one of the photos with the workmen around it. Object photography has hardly been subject to a new approach in archaeological science. In recent years, however, more and more visions of the imagination of archaeological finds have been brought forward in contemporary visual art, by people such as Mark Dion, Taryn Simon and Broomberg & Chanarin. The above thoughts were extensively discussed during the collaboration with city archaeologist Jerzy Gawronski. If you discuss these matters with one another and can convince each other with good mutual arguments, you can arrive at a clear presentation of this complex matter.

27/11/2020 09:58



Daesung Lee, “On the Shore of a Vanishing Island” by Canal C. Licensed with CC BY-NC 2.0.

George Kurian George Kurian is a documentary filmmaker and photo and video journalist based in Beirut, Lebanon, working in most of the conflict areas of the world. With a background in psychology, journalism and mediation, he focuses on narratives that foster understanding and peace building. He directed the award-winning documentary The Crossing (2015) and has worked on a range of documentaries from current affairs and history to human interest and wildlife. His film and video work has been featured on BBC, Channel 4, National Geographic, Discovery, Animal Planet, ZDF, Arte, NRK (Norway), DRTV (Denmark), Doordarshan (India) and NOS (Netherlands). George Kurian’s photojournalism work has been published in The Daily Beast, The Sunday Times, Maclean's/Rogers, Aftenposten (Norway), Dagens Nyheter (Sweden), The Australian, The Lancet, The New Humanitarian (formerly IRIN News) and through AFP.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 50

Hasnahena Mamataz Hasnahena Mamataz has a background in political studies and has lived in Italy since 2003. She works as a cultural linguistic mediator, mainly for the Municipality of Venice, the immigration service and anti-violence against women, as a healthcare partner and educational partner (also for newly arrived children). Hasna translates from Bangla to Italian and vice versa for the Court of Justice among other organizations and works for the Prefecture with the civic training of migrants. She has obtained the Communication e Interlinguistic and Intercultural Mediation (COMLINT) certification from the Cà Foscari University of Venice. In 2018 she collaborated with Indian writer Amitav Ghosh for the book ‘Gun Island’.

Marco Moretto Marco Moretto (M.Sc. TU DELFT, BNA) is a qualified architect in the Netherlands with professional experience, ranging from architecture, urbanism to research and publications. With his practice he works on different designs and cultural projects that often challenge procedures, representational techniques, and theoretical concepts by centralizing other possibilities of architecture. Previously, he has been project architect at different international practices in the Netherlands, the UK and India, with a focus on the development of sustainable housing and urban strategies. Marco is part of the editorial team of the Exploratorium for the Dutch contribution to 17th Architecture Biennale in Venice.

27/11/2020 09:58


VANISHING 08 HOMELANDS Parts of our world experience climate change as personal and social catastrophe, but to many others, it is still an abstract concept, about a possible future reality. Politicians and elected leaders of some of the most powerful countries still debate whether climate change is real or fiction, lobbying for industries that are proven contributors of global warming, unable to acknowledge it unambiguously and act decisively on the encircling global crisis. The waves of migration by victims of climate change who have lost homes, livelihoods, ways of life and homelands are still propagandistically lumped into the xenophobic political discourse of illegal migration, blinding us to the reality of an ecocidal phenomenon that will affect the whole planet. Through a series of interviews, testimonies and dialogues, using investigative journalism and demographic data, we analyze the impact of global warming on two complex and fragile ecosystems. Venice, Italy and Shariatpur in Bangladesh are seemingly in opposite ends of the world. Though separated by geographic, climatic and cultural realities, both places are tied to the same tragic fate, being continuously impacted by rising of global temperatures and sea levels.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 51

27/11/2020 09:58




“A refugee is someone who is unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion”. ”NonRefoulement”, a core principle of the 1951 Refugee Convention, asserts that a refugee should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom. This is now considered a rule of customary international law. What happens to people whose homelands are lost or uninhabitable due to seawater rise or riverine erosion or the lack of drinking water? People who are neither recognized as refugees under International law, nor who have places to go back to because their homelands no longer exist? Presently, a non-binding UN negotiated agreement, the Global Compact for Migration, is all that recognizes Climate Change as a cause of migration. A growing body of irrefutable scientific studies on global warming indicates that many coastal regions are in great danger from the warming seas that swell, surge, affect wind patterns and cause large scale destruction of habitats. Up to 300 million people could be forced to migrate by 2050. Shariatpur and Venice, according to scientists, are two of the places that will be amongst the hardest hit.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 52

27/11/2020 09:58


VANISHING HOMELANDS 08 From left above, 1: 2018 migrants from Bangladesh crossing the Mediterranean, image courtesy of (AFP) 1: 2017 migrants Mediterranean crossing, 3: migrants, Libyan border 2019. 4: Bangladesh tropical cyclone in 1991. Images licensed under the creative commons. 5: 2020 Human migrations common routes, Bangladesh-Venice, image by M. Moretto.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 53

27/11/2020 09:58




SHARIATPUR, BANGLADESH Broken Lands, Broken Lives

Like most of Bangladesh, Shariatpur is a low-lying flatland and it lies where the mega-rivers Brahmaputra and the Ganges merge to become the Padma. When glacial ice melts normally in the Himalayas, the Brahmaputra can be nine kilometers wide at places. When the waters of the Padma rise from increased water levels, her banks burst and the effect on the communities that live on the vast plains on her sides is devastating. Climate Change and its consequent global warming melts glacial ice faster, overrunning the fine balance of riverine ecosystems and habitats. While wealthy industrialized nations have contributed most to climate change through their emissions, a disproportionate number of its victims are in the Global South. Every year in Bangladesh, thousands of hectares of land crumble into its winding rivers,

VFS_Cahier2.indb 54

swallowing homes, farms and cattle, pushing people further inland, often with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. Many of these internally displaced people try to make a living in cities like Dhaka. Without farms and unable to use their agricultural skills and expertise, they try to eke out a living for themselves and their families as unskilled urban labourers. As more and more people migrate into the cities due to habitat loss, opportunities in the cities become fewer and the remuneration smaller, while rents and cost of living increase. When survival becomes fraught, people make the decision to leave the country and take the perilous route to Europe as refugees. Bangladeshis form one of the largest immigrant populations in Italy. In Venice, around 60% of the Bangladeshi refugees come from Shariatpur and other

parts of Bangladesh affected by climate change. From 1973 to 2017, Bangladesh’s three major rivers - the Padma, the Meghna, and the Jamuna - engulfed more than 160,000 hectares of land. Rising sea levels, extreme weather events and the resulting food shortages may create thirteen million climate refugees here by 2050 according to a World Bank estimate. According to the UN, Bangladesh is one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change in the world. 2000 Bangladeshis move to Dhaka every day, many of whom are displaced by climate change.

Above, (left) flooding in Shariatpur 2016, (right) flooding in Dhaka 2017. Images licensed under the creative commons.

27/11/2020 09:58



Top, images from NASA satellite data, 1994 (left) 2020 (right). Below, floods in Shariatpur. Image by water.alternatives, licensed under the creative commons. Every year in Bangladesh, due to climate change and river erosion, thousands of hectares of land crumble into the rivers, swallowing homes and pushing families away.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 55

27/11/2020 09:58



VENICE, ITALY High Waters, Arid Futures

Venice was once the greatest seaport and Europe’s commercial and cultural link to Asia. Today, its history and architecture make it one of the most popular tourist destinations. Environmentally unique, the Venice lagoon is protected by a line of sandbanks with gaps that delicately control the flow of tides inwards. The legendary Sirocco is a seasonal wind originating in the hot and dry Sahara. Pulled northward across the Mediterranean, it can occasionally reach hurricane speeds. Astronomical tides and the Sirocco push the waters of the Adriatic into the Venice Lagoon, sometimes causing the Acqua Alta (high water), partially flooding Venice since time immemorial. But on 12th November 2019, the high water reached 187 centimetres at its highest, flooding more than 80% of the city that night. While the first record of flooding in Venice

VFS_Cahier2.indb 56

dates back to the fifth century, the 2019 flood level stood just seven centimetres below the Acqua Granda of 1966, when the tide reached 194 centimetres, the highest ever recorded. While Climate Change is not the cause for the historic Acque Alte, scientific data collected by the Tide Forecasting and Reporting Centre of the Municipality of Venice (CPSM) show unequivocally how these floods, once quite rare, have become more frequent in recent years, each one more severe than the last. A total of 74 high water events were recorded in the century between 1870 and 1969. Almost the same number of floods has already been recorded in the last decade. While the petrochemical industry is one of the biggest contributors to climate change worldwide, it has had a very direct impact on Venice. In the 70s, a deep canal was excavated

through the Venice Lagoon to facilitate the transit of oil tankers to and from the industries in Marghera. The “Canale dei Petroli”, as it came to be called, changed the natural currents and altered the morphology of the lagoon radically, destroying its delicate balance. The artificial canal also swept away the salt marshes and swampy islands that served as sponges. To run the petrochemical industries of Marghera, so much fresh water was mined from the underground aquifers that the land mass on which Venice rests subsided by 15 centimetres. Apart from raising sea levels around a land mass that is subsiding, climate change is altering wind patterns, and their speeds are increasing dramatically, making Venice all the more vulnerable. Many Venetians fear that without drastic global environmental action, their beloved city will

succumb to the rising seas and raging winds. Venetians have always had to live with the vagaries of wind and tide, and this world heritage city thrived for centuries, but the human interventions of the 20th century have been so destructive that scientists predict that the Venice may disappear entirely by 2100.

Above, Acqua Alta in Venice. Image by Hasnahena Mamataz. Below, Acqua Alta in Venice, image courtesy of Beka & Lemoine.

27/11/2020 09:59



Right, images from NASA satellite data, 1994 (right), 2020 (left). Due to erosion, the shallow seabed of the lagoon has deepened, and the salt marshes, one of the lagoon's most precious environments, are consumed by currents and waves.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 57

27/11/2020 09:59



TESTIMONIES Walter Mutti | Khokon Kazi

Walter Mutti’s family has lived in Venice for as long as he can remember. From his father, he took over the newspaper and magazine kiosk that his family has owned for generations. To many Venetians, the Mutti kiosk is part of the iconic landscape by the Giudecca Canal, bringing them the news and gossip of the world. School boys peered furtively into magazines on display while their fathers chatting with the Muttis, bought copies of the Gazzettino, to be read in the vaporetto on their way to work. Postcards and souvenirs for tourists lined the kiosk and it sturdily withstood the annual acque alte. The evening of 12th November 2019 was a normal day at the kiosk, till Walter found himself staring unbelievingly, at the Giudecca Canal, swelling ominously and beyond anything he had ever seen. The wind howled, raging at speeds over a 100 Kilometres per hour, bringing the sea surging towards him. Alone, he watched helplessly as his family’s source of livelihood, which had weathered many a storm before, was now dragged to the edge of the canal and toppled into its choppy waters. Risking his life, Walter tried to save what he could of the kiosk, but the surging waters submerged it. Many lost everything to the flood, but Walter was lucky. Venetians, loathe to lose a piece of their history, rallied to help him and raised their beloved kiosk from the bottom of

VFS_Cahier2.indb 58

the Giudecca Canal. A week later, Walter met the Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte. Appraising him of what happened on that fateful night, he asked “Despite the losses, there are still taxes to be paid. How do we do it?”

Above and middle Walter’s kiosk in 2018 and on 12th November 2019, images by W. Mutti. Walter Mutti stands where his kiosk used to be before it was swept away. Image courtesy of ANSA.

27/11/2020 09:59

59 Khokon’s family lived in Shariatpur for a long time and had rice fields scattered around Kudalpur village but since his late teens, Kazi watched helplessly as his family’s croplands were devoured by the Padma river, leaving them poorer each passing year. The thriving village was slowly disappearing, and his family lost all their fertile fields to subsidence. Even their home would soon have to be abandoned, because it was already dangerously close to the ever-encroaching river. Knowing his family would soon be homeless and starve if he did not do something, he left Bangladesh, a climate refugee in 1997, long before the term came to be used. At the mercy of human traffickers, Kazi started on an eightmonth long journey to Europe. Walking through Afghanistan, he nearly froze to death as he trudged through the Ural Mountains in Russia. Khokon finally reached Italy through eastern Europe, a sans-papier at the age of twenty-two. That same year, his family home crumbled into the Padma. Kazi walked the streets of Venice selling flowers to tourists to send money back home for his family’s survival. One day, a restaurant on his flower-selling route offered him a job in the kitchen. Determined to make the best of this opportunity, he worked hard, acquiring the skills to run an Italian fast food kitchen. Twelve years later, he had saved up to buy the restaurant he worked in. As the restaurant flourished, Khokon expanded, buying expensive ovens to supply pre-baked goods to hotels. He also opened his own pizzeria. Through sheer grit and hard work, he succeeded, and though he missed his home-

VFS_Cahier2.indb 59

VANISHING HOMELANDS 08 land and his family, Khokon felt his family had finally managed to leave their troubles behind. Little did he know that rising waters which had taken away his home and livelihood in Bangladesh would visit him in Venice, again taking everything away. The Acqua Alta of November 2019 was strong and fast. The water entered his establishments, destroying his expensive machines, ovens and food products. With no income, high losses coupled with the high rents to be paid and loans to be repaid, Kazi was desperate. To get back on his feet, Kazi borrowed money from a local moneylender at an extortionate interest rate. To help his family in Shariatpur, he sought out another loan shark in Bangladesh. Seeing Khokon helpless and indebted in two countries, his family sold the land they had only recently managed to buy with the money he had been sending them. Kazi’s daughter no longer dreams of finishing university. A climate change victim twice over, Khokon Kazi stares into the lagoon, oblivious to the throng of summer tourists, unable even to return to his family, now landless again.

Above, Khokon Kazi in front of his pizzeria. Middle and below Khokon Kazi in 2018 and his storage on 12th November 2019. Images by K. Kazi and H. Mamataz.

27/11/2020 09:59



TESTIMONIES Valter Rossi and Maurizio Mutti | Santo Akash

Nico, on the Zattere waterfront promenade, is a household name in Venice and the flavour of its ice creams is a part of the city’s lore. Hand crafted using traditional techniques passed on over generations, its owners Valter and Maurizio took pride in using only the best ingredients. Despite expanding to serve an ever-growing clientele, they had painstakingly retained the quality they were famous for. Although a Venetian success story, the last decade saw Walter and Maurizio getting increasingly worried about their future. The abnormally high tides hadn’t escaped their attention. The promenade on the waterfront was the best place for an ice-cream parlour, with tourists flocking in the Venetian summer heat. But the location was becoming fraught. Should they stay or should they move? Studying the increasing tide levels, Valter and Maurizio built barriers to prevent the Acqua Alta entering Nico. However, on the night of the 12th of November 2019, the unprecedented high water went way over the barriers, submerging and destroying all of Nico’s traditional ice-cream-making equipment and their impressive bar. ‘Usually it stopped at the barrier, but it wasn’t enough this time,’ remembers Valter bitterly. ‘The sea fooled us – it also entered through the back door!’ Valter and Maurizio are unsure what the future holds, for Nico or for Venice. But for now, they

VFS_Cahier2.indb 60

are staying put. They will build a higher barrier and take their chances with it.

Above, Valter Rossi in his bar. Middle and below Valter’s and Maurizio’s terrace in 2018 and on the 12th November 2019, images by V. Rossi and G. Moretto.

27/11/2020 09:59

61 As a child, the sound of flowing water terrified Akash and he couldn’t sleep at night. When he finally did, he would have recurring nightmares that he and his family would drown. Santo’s family had lived for generations in Shariatpur and the majestic Padma river had sustained his family’s farming for generations, but the water’s flow had taken on a menacing aspect. Lands by the river are sought after by farmers, but in the last decades, the Padma had changed. Instead of watering the land and enriching it with alluvium, the raging river was sweeping away entire chunks of land. Although the people of Shariatpur hadn’t heard of Climate Change, they had more than noticed its effects. As with most disasters, the poorest are the hardest hit. As the family farm crumbled year after year into the Padma, Santo’s family house came ever closer to the river and before long it was in the danger zone. His older brothers decided to leave their home country and find a way to sustaining their family which was now without agricultural land and would soon be without a home. When the brothers reached Italy as refugees, 13-year-old Santo and his parents moved to Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka, unable to live at their house anymore. Five years later, Santo travelled the same dangerous road from Bangladesh to Italy. Unlike many refugees who are exploited in the black market, Santo was lucky to find a job in a restaurant that paid him a living wage. A few years later, he had saved enough to open his own fastfood restaurant on a small alley in the historic centre of Venice.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 61

VANISHING HOMELANDS 08 Before long Santo had a wife and two children. The brothers sent money back home to Bangladesh to help their aging parents live. Everything changed on the night of the 12th November 2019. The unprecedented flooding damaged Santo’s business irreparably and the financial aid he got from the government was not enough to cover rent and the repair-expenses needed to revive it. Then came the COVID19 pandemic. With no tourists coming to Venice, he is on the brink of penury. Sleepless with worries, Santo is haunted again, by the sound of water, as the tides get stronger and the frequency of their visits increase.

Above, Akash Santo in his fast food restaurant. Middle and below Santo’s restaurant in 2018 and on 12th November 2019, images by S. Akash and H.Mamataz.

27/11/2020 09:59



TESTIMONIES Choukidar Nurzaman | Giovanni Moretto

Nurzaman reached Rome in 2010. Italy was far from his native Bangladesh and the journey was long, hard and dangerous, but Rome’s stony facade looked decidedly solid and promising to him, compared to the crumbling lands and watery dangers of Shariatpur. Nurzaman had been a farmer all his life, but he had lost his farm to the Padma river like so many others in Shariatpur. A poor farmer barely eking out a living in Bangladesh, Nurzman could not afford to buy another farm. Seeing no other way out, Nurzaman sold everything he had to pay the human traffickers who had promised to take him to Rome. He left his family behind, with his ageing parents and a disabled brother, promising to bring them over in a safer manner as soon as he could. Reaching Rome, Nurzaman was determined to work hard and learn whatever new skill he could pick up to survive. He missed his family every day and looked forward to the day his savings would be enough to bring them over. After trying his hand at selling costume jewellery on the streets of Rome and various other odd jobs, he found a job as a waiter in Venice. The work was hard and the pay low, but at least, it was a steady income. By 2019, Nurzaman had brought his family over to Venice. They lived together in a single ten square meter room

VFS_Cahier2.indb 62

in the outskirts of Venice. Space was cramped and they had little. Making ends meet every month was a tight rope act, but at least they were together. With a new baby to be born in December, Nurzaman was even sending tiny amounts of money to help his parents and brother in Bangladesh. When the high waters of November 2019 receded, the restaurant that Nurzaman worked in could no longer afford to stay open. He was let go. Unable to pay his rent, they were soon without a roof over their heads, but a Bangladeshi family which had returned to their home country temporarily allowed him to stay at their house. He reached out to loan sharks to be able to buy baby food and diapers for his new born daughter and to feed his family. He longs to return to Bangladesh, but knows it is an impossible dream. Since he left, the Padma river swept away his family home and his father died. His old mother and disabled brother have nothing to live on, much less, to help him and his family.

Above, Choukidar Nurzaman in his temporary home, image by H.Mamataz. Middle, Cyclone Amphan 2020, image by Oxfam, licensed under the creative commons. Below river erosion 2020, image by H. Mamaztaz

27/11/2020 09:59

63 On the morning of the 4th November 1966, twelve year old Giovanni Moretto watched the tide rise slowly. At supper that evening, his elders looked worried as the waters continued to rise. Gianni, as his family call him, remembers feeling odd at being asked to put his boots on inside the house. His home in Dorsoduro was built on raised ground, but the water swirled about the kitchen. Many of his friends and neighbours, like other Venetians who lived in ground-floor dwellings, were not so lucky, losing everything they had to L’Acqua Granda, as the Venetians call the highest recorded flood in Venetian history. It was to be one of the worst days in the long history of Venice. More than 75 percent of the businesses, shops and artisanal workshops were seriously damaged or lost that night, apart from thousands of tons of goods. Of the fifty friends and classmates in Gianni’s neighbourhood, only two managed to stay on in Venice. His family slowly rebuilt their lives, new friendships were forged over the decades, Gianni went on to have family of his own and a shop selling Murano glass and trading gold that came from Padua and Vincenza. Half a century later, L’Acqua Granda was a distant memory and Venice was one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world. Gianni, now retired, was at dinner with his friends at “Dalla Marisa”, a well-known Venetian Trattoria, when the waters swirled about his feet again. Unlike L’Acqua Granda of 1966, the waters entered much faster on the 12th of November 2019 and before long, his city was unrecognizable. Streetlights

VFS_Cahier2.indb 63

VANISHING HOMELANDS 08 went off and the rush of water everywhere in the dark. ‘It seemed like we were walking in a flooded river. You could not see where the pavement ended, and the canal began,’ he says. Many fell into the canal, trying to find higher ground and in some places, water reached people’s waists. Unable to reach home in the strong tide, rain and storm and trying to find his way in the dark, he ran into tourists who were lost and scared. He led them to the train station, where they spent the night listening to the howling storm for hours. Since 1966, Giovanni had seen Venice flooded many times, but the ferocity of the 2019 flooding scared him about the future of his city. Though his family and friends survived, many Venetians he knows lost everything. Friends making the famed Murano glass that he sold all his life were forced to close their workshops for good, unable to pay the exorbitant costs of repairing and running their traditional furnaces. Murano glass itself may become a thing of the past, says Giovanni. ‘Why would young Venetians risk their future investing in a shop in Venice anymore?’ he asks. ‘Many have already left for the mainland or other places.’

Above, Giovanni Moretto in campo S. Agnese. Middle, Giovanni’s family 4th November 1966, images by G.Moretto. Below, Venice in 1966 , image by G.Cucchini.

27/11/2020 09:59



METHODOLOGY George’s original idea for the Biennale was to curate an interaction in Venice between tourists and refugees, humans supposedly equal, but at opposite ends of the entitlement spectrum. While tourists/visitors (participants of the Biennale) bear the hallmarks of contemporary entitlement – passports, visas, money and time to travel which in turn allude to homes, jobs, affluence and stability, refugees or ‘sans-papiers’ have none of the rights and freedoms that are taken for granted with entitlement. With the impossibility of travel and physical interaction due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he explores the same core idea – how can we meet each other respectfully as equals, and how can we interact meaningfully, to find values for survival? Hasna works with refugees for the Municipality of Venice, and Marco is an architect and researcher from Venice. George works in conflict zones, and his work as a documentary film maker and journalist focusses on climate change, refugees and conflict. With this combined skillset, the team located participants and structured the work around the commonality of experience of people who had already experienced disenfranchisement through climate change.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 64

Hasna and Marco worked closely to collect stories from the two target groups, comparing findings daily through WhatsApp messages, exchanging photos and videos. During the group meetings, they shared gathered research and insights with George, the track leader, and evolved the project and sharpened its focus on a set of people whose life experiences would be most significant to our learning. Through Hasna’s wide network and trust among refugees, we were able to find people who had left Bangladesh as climate change refugees, and then lost everything once again in the flooding of Venice. Through Marco’s contacts, we located Venetians who were willing to share their stories with us, and his architectural work helped contextualize it with macro-level data on the city. The work was structured and compiled by Marco, while George edited and rewrote the text into a seamless whole. We are now doing further research to develop the project into a full-length documentary feature film.

A listing of methodology and points of contact in numbers Phone calls : 62 calls Dates: 5 May — 30 July 2020 Minutes: 866 Email exchanges: 29 Dates: 22 April — 31 July 2020 Skype meetings: 11 Dates: 24 April — 28 June 2020 Minutes: 12 hrs Online material exchanges: 42 Photograph exchanges: 325 Written document exchanges: 27 Video exchanges: 109 Edited video trailer exchanges: 1

27/11/2020 09:59



EVALUATION Hasna: ‘Vanishing Homelands‘: a project that made me reflect on some aspects of the reality of Bangladeshi immigration that I probably already knew but that so far had only touched my life and had not yet entered deeply into my heart, transforming and changing the way I look at people. With my work I meet people every day who have economic and work problems but, as with the iceberg, I only knew the part on the surface. Thanks to this project, however, I entered their homes and saw their realities, the submerged part of the iceberg, more in depth. This project was carried out by three people very different from each other in age, sex, culture and religion, but despite these differences we found ourselves in harmony in collecting the tears of many people who suffer.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 65

Marco: Before we started, Climate Change was still an abstract concept to me, and this project helped me to reflect on societal aspects of this issue. The values that we have learned from each other have gone beyond language, and we worked across disciplines, finding how our goals would align. I have understood that we need more of these cross-boundary collaborations if we want to be able to renew our local and global structures to confront this crisis. I hope to continue to develop this project further and to transform our analysis into a documentary film to bring empathy and respect that the victims of climate change deserve.

George: There is a lot of information out there about climate change and a lot of good work is being done by governmental and non-governmental organizations to counter it, but the most common setback to battling climate change is still public apathy. The people who shared their stories with us happen to be from geographies that are immediately vulnerable. Climate change has taken everything away from them, through no fault of their own but because of the combined behaviour of our species. Their experience will be our experience soon if we don’t all work together. How can we facilitate an understanding of the immediacy of the crisis through empathy that will spur action?

27/11/2020 09:59



Pinar Sefkatli University of Amsterdam

Pinar Sefkatli is PhD candidate at the University of Amsterdam. Her research uses rhythm as a concept to understand the social life of cities and identify critical design spaces, through case studies in Amsterdam Zuidoost. Pinar studied architecture at Delft University of Technology (2015) and at the Polytechnic University of Milan (2013). Before starting her PhD, she collaborated with architecture studios from Amsterdam and Rotterdam, was research assistant at City Rhythm research (2018) and worked for the Chief Science Office in the city of Amsterdam.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 66

Scott Cunningham University of Strathclyde

Scott W. Cunningham is Professor of Urban Policy at the School of Government and Public Policy and the Faculty of Humanities and Social Science of the University of Strathclyde. At the University of Strathclyde he researches the effects of the built and natural environments on the welfare of urban residents. He is currently a member of the BIGPROD consortium, an EU Horizon 2020-funded project investigating innovation and inclusive regional growth. Previously, while at the Delft University of Technology, he was part of the Designing Rhythm for Social Resilience project, a Dutch national foundation project investigating digital humanities and the urban experience.

Carolyn Smith Ca’ Foscari University of Venice & We are here Venice

Carolyn Smith is an urban dynamics researcher for both We are here Venice and Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. Carolyn studied Architecture at the University of Cambridge (2019) and the University of Bath (2016), before beginning a career as an interdisciplinary researcher specializing in sustainable urban development. She has written extensively about tourism, political agency and Venice’s challenges with identity and depopulation; her work crystalizes practical, spatial dimensions from theoretical research. We are here Venice is a solution-focused organisation which advocates for a sustainable future for the city.

27/11/2020 09:59


TIDES OF 09 TOURISM In this track we investigate tourism as a spatio-temporal phenomenon, with its own daily, weekly, seasonal and yearly rhythms, which are guided and governed as flows and tides. Rhythms, like tides, are temporal and spatial compositions; in an urban context they also gain a policy dimension. Conceptualizing tourism via these frames of reference provides for a reconsideration of the ontologies which surround demographics (that is, the tourist and the local), regulations (local and regional scales), and spatial usages and distributions, while rhythm interventions choreograph how these urban practices intersect. Our exploration takes place in Amsterdam, Venice and Glasgow: cities that have been adapted to tidal rhythms throughout the centuries. The first two cities are faced with overflowing tourism, and have adopted different management approaches, while the latter is looking for ways to invite tourism to enrich the economy of the city. Through the lens of speculative rhythm interventions, our research examines how tourism might be better orchestrated in various urban contexts. Julia Ubeda Briones Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences

Julia Ùbeda’s expertise intersects urban planning and spatial data. She is currently teaching Urban Analytics at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. She worked for the Traffic and Public Space Department of the City of Amsterdam where she designed, prototyped and tested the methodology of the city ‘walkability maps’, now available at She also developed a simulation to reveal spatio-temporal patterns of tourists in the city. Her particular interest is the exploration and development of digital tools that facilitate or support the urban policy making processes by using geo-data and spatial data visualizations.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 67

Bettina Niendorf University of Strathclyde

Bettina Niendorf is an MSc student at the University of Strathclyde. Before starting her Master’s, she worked as a consultant in the field of retail valuation. Bettina holds a BA degree in Real Estate from Anhalt University of Applied Sciences.

27/11/2020 09:59



INTRODUCTION This study conceptualizes tourism as a rhythmic phenomenon: comprising not only the flows of people entering and leaving the city but also the patterns that arise when these characteristics repeat themselves every day, every week or every year. These phenomena can be observed and intervened upon in specific timeframes and places. What follows in the coming pages is an exploration of defining a methodology which can document and represent the tourism rhythms of Amsterdam, Glasgow and Venice. The overriding aim is to illuminate possible ways to reorganize these rhythms through their visualization. The graphs summarize the population/tourism growth trends

in Amsterdam, Glasgow and Venice between 1980 and 2019. While Amsterdam shows growth in population, Glasgow and Venice display a shrinkage in the past 40 years. In all 3 cities, there is an increase in overnight stays. In Amsterdam these numbers have almost reached the residency levels. In Venice, 1980 marks a crucial year after which the amount of tourist overnight stays begin to exceed the number of residents. Glasgow is in a recovery phase for population, and the tourism levels are x5 the base levels of residency. In Venice, the scale of tourism is at an extreme level, being x160 the base level of residency.

Amsterdam Amsterdam is a city with a compact medieval centre, akin to most European cities. The city attracts a growing number of inhabitants: the population in 2020 is 872.380 with a growth rate of 11.6% since 2008. It is estimated that by 2025, the city will have 950,000 inhabitants. To overcome the 2008 financial crisis, the City of Amsterdam promoted tourism as a means to stimulate the economy and employment. The marketing policies were successful: tourism grew at a rate of 5% between 2008

Glasgow Inclusive growth is a very important value for Glasgow. This value is dependent on the availability of resources in the city, and started from a relatively negative balance sheet, given Glasgow’s history and resident institutions. On the positive side, the nation and the region have great environmental resources, including its rivers and firths. The River Clyde, which runs through the middle of the city, exemplifies these resources. The river has been one of the major reasons for

Venice Venice is a human-scale, pedestrian city, built at the centre of a tidal lagoon. Global fame weighs heavily on the iconic city, and contemporary Venice is simultaneously sustained and destroyed by tourism. The last seventy years have witnessed both the unprecedented degradation of the Venetian lagoon (largely associated with the deep dredging necessary for large-scale shipping) and the depletion of the city’s community (now less than a third of the population in 1951). In 2019 the number of

VFS_Cahier2.indb 68

and 2015; in 2016, the city welcomed 17.3 million visitors. If this pace is maintained, the expected number of visitors by 2025 will be around 23 million. The City of Amsterdam recognizes the downsides to this situation, such as increased traffic, overflowing bike jams, public nuisance, street litter, noise and a reduction in the diversity of activities due to the presence of the same mainstream shops. In general, Amsterdam’s tourism is leading to a growing score in the inner city. Recent studies on pedestrian space in the city show that one of the most

the growth and success of the city, and today the Clyde is an appealing attraction for tourists – frequently appearing in tourist and conference advertising. On the negative side, the city has come through long-term and highly difficult experiences of partisanship and post-industrial development. Zones of opportunity and deprivation are strongly demarcated by the course of the river. Life on the Clyde is highly structured by these processes. Planners have until now largely failed to address competing visions of how to use the river. This includes use of the

tourist bedspaces in Venice exceeded the residential population: the city risks becoming a city of tourists. The presence of visitors has always been an important element of Venetian culture – the city has had official tour guides since 1204 – but in recent years the scale of tourism has become unsustainable. Venice is now the international posterchild for overtourism. Solutions for this complex phenomenon remain elusive. It is not a simple question of limiting visitor numbers, but addressing tourism’s propensity to ‘crowd out’

27/11/2020 09:59



Image 1

Image 2

Image 3

critical factors affecting walkability is the lack of space in the inner city, mainly because of a confluence of users and visitors with different mobility patterns. Recognition of this research has shifted the local administration’s perspective on tourism: the City of Amsterdam is now actively experimenting with different (regulatory and spatial) strategies to achieve a sustainable new city equilibrium. Image 1: Š

river by the general public, tourists, the wealthy and even industrialists. Glasgow is looking to incorporate tourism within these processes; the objectives are to better capture high-value tourists to enable a stronger service-based economy. The city needs to think creatively and realistically about how tourism, inclusion and natural resource management can be mutually supportive. Image 2: Buchanan Street Š Chris Thomas Atkin - uk/p/6450978

other demographics, services and productive activities. It is not controversial to state that Venice is now defined by a tourism economic monoculture. Venetian depopulation cannot be addressed without concerted efforts to stabilize the housing market, protect the services necessary for everyday life and provide viable, sustainable economic alternatives. Image 3: Piazza San Marco, Carolyn Smith

VFS_Cahier2.indb 69

27/11/2020 09:59



RHYTHMIC ANALYTICAL FRAMEWORK The process began with consideration of four notions for organizing temporality: scheduling, synchronizing, pausing and stretching (Mattila et al., 2019). These notions were used to propose ‘bundles of practices’, which might be used to orchestrate the rhythms of tourism. We represent them here as playing cards to summarize the necessary information to translate these terms into interventions which, in the urban domain, are choreographed in three dimensions: time frames (when), places (where), and activities and demographics (what/who). The development of our analytical framework was founded on these dimensions, allowing us to develop a comparative framework to revaluate tourism.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 70

The following pages illustrate the analytical processes which were used to conceptualize these dimensions. In ‘Visitors and activities’, we explain the demographics and activities which were taken into consideration in documenting the rhythms (who/what). In ‘Daily, weekly and yearly rhythms’ we present the results of rhythm analysis in three distinct timeframes (when). In ‘Space–time transitions’, we map spatial factors of these rhythms, and show how visitors make use of the urban realm (where). We conclude with a reflection on how the findings from the study illuminate potential for design and/or policy interventions to reorganizing these rhythms through ‘bundles of practices’.

27/11/2020 09:59



VISITORS & ACTIVITIES A number of demographics (including tourists) are used to conceptualize both the flows in and out of the city, as well as the various uses of urban space during specific time frames. We establish eight critical types of city users for the three cities as listed below, with brief profile descriptions. Each visitor makes use of the city

in a different manner, creating a variety of trajectories in space and time. Our approach shifts the focus from focusing solely on ‘tourists’ to include both other visitors and residents to reveal the dynamics which combine to create issues like over tourism, crowdedness or the absence of the two.


Day Trippers

People who visit a city only for a day, and live or reside already in the same country. They travel to the city in the morning, after the rush hour, and leave early evening. (We assume that) they mostly visit the main hotspots and attractions.


In-Transit Visitors

Visitors who stay in one of the focus cities and travel around the surrounding cities/towns/areas. With this group, locals can also be included because we propose that the activity of travelling outside the city (for visiting another town, beaches, attractions) is also often carried out by the people who live in the city.


Vacation Visitors

This group represents the typical ‘tourists’. They stay in the city overnight, for an average of two to four days. (We assume that) they give priority to visiting the main tourist attractions and hotspots, and as their stay extends, they also tend to visit other areas as well.


Conference Visitors

People who visit the city in order to attend a conference. They might prefer to stay close to the conference locations. Their stay lasts two to three days. Those who come towards the end of the week may also stay during the weekend. In this case, we consider them as vacation visitors.


Commuters (Work)

People who arrive from another city to work. They usually arrive before 9 am and travel immediately to their work location. Their weekly patterns are quite stable. (We assume that) their possibility of interacting with the local urban environment depends on the location of their commuting place.


Commuters (Students)

Similar to the category above; however, their weekly patterns maybe more flexible, since these will depend on their lecture times and days.


Event Visitors

Visitors who arrive in the city in order to take part in a specific event. The events we consider here last for around four hours, so their stay in the city is shorter than the regular daily visitors.


Night Life Visitors

Visitors who visit the city for the nightlife. They arrive in the evening, maybe have dinner or a drink and then stay until late at night or early next morning. We consider that there is more chance that they arrive towards or during the weekend.

The visitors engage with the urban space through different activities. In order to understand the visitor patterns within each of the three cities, we documented activity patterns in daily, weekly and yearly time frames. This data is based on our own observations, research and our own assumptions on what we see and feel in our surroundings. After weeks of speculation, we devised 12 main visitor activities and visually represented the urban spaces and time frames in which these activities are carried out.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 71

27/11/2020 09:59



DAILY RHYTHMS We analysed the rhythm of the visitors in three different ‘time scales’: day, week and year. In each analysis, we explored different methods of visualization. The daily rhythm diagrams revealed the time of the activities,

VFS_Cahier2.indb 72

their duration, and variety throughout the day, which are represented by the icons. We observed how the activities made different use of the urban areas. The spatial factors are represented with colours, which we discuss later within the ‘space– time transitions’ section. Documenting each city in the same level of detail and plotting them in the same grid allowed us to see key similarities and differences.

27/11/2020 09:59



WEEKLY & YEARLY RHYTHMS In the weekly and yearly rhythms, the distinctions between the seasons, festive periods, work and no work become clear. These influence how the visitors enter each city and make use of the urban realm. The weekly time frame illustrates the tourists’ increased engagement with their surroundings as they stay for longer periods of time, as they have the chance to explore beyond the shortlisted places visited during short excursions. The yearly analysis begins to unpack the dynamics which lie behind the


intensity in periods during vacations or big events. Each city utilized different visualization methods. While for Venice the focus was on showing how the patterns of the different visitors and locals formed around each other, in Glasgow the diagrams show which spaces are most used throughout the week and year. Amsterdam aimed to show how the patterns of the visitors varied in intensity across the two time scales.

In Amsterdam, there is an increase in the number of tourists and event visitors as the week matures into the weekend, while commuters decrease. From a spatial perspective, this means that Zones 1 and 2 are most visited during the first days of the week while, in the final days, this is spread more towards Zones 3 and 4. On the other hand, congress centres and offices are almost vacant during the weekend. This has also an impact on the use of the Arrival Zones: during the weekdays Arrival Zones 1 and 2 are active, while over the weekend this shifts into Arrival Zone 1, since Arrival Zone 2 is mostly used by commuters. The graph above represents these spatial and temporal developments. The colours indicate the zones, as described in the daily rhythm visualization. The lines represent the shift in spaces during each day; these are divided into six time frames. The yearly rhythms are influenced by the seasonal changes and vacation periods, which involve events and activities at both neighbourhood and city scales. The second graph illustrates visitor patterns which are relatively distributed throughout the year; however, the summer and Christmas periods experience the most intensity, while the beginning of the year and the autumn months see less. Each circle represents a visitor group and the line thicknesses aim to show the growth and decrease in the number of visitors in three levels. This graph was created using research into Amsterdam’s event calendar, data which indicates the number of Dutch and international visitors to the city and overnight stay bookings. The relative visitor attraction for Amsterdam’s events and conferences was inferred based on the frequency and size of the events.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 73

27/11/2020 09:59



GLASGOW Glasgow operates with a clear weekday and weekend divide. The city itself is a classically polycentric city which has grown through the accretion of surrounding smaller villages. The city centre known to tourists is therefore actually only a small part of an extended commuting and economic zone. Many tourists come to the city for cultural events and stay for a long weekend. These tourists may also decamp to other parts of Scotland for a longer visit during the week. On the other hand, city workers go home to the extended periphery of the city, and students may stay at lower-cost accommodation at a distance from the centre. Conference visitors perhaps have the most unusual rhythms as the conferences are scheduled during the week to make it attractive for individuals to also take time for tourism activities over the weekend after the event. Vacation visitors are the most engaged tourist type, based on the time they spend in the city. This extra time allows them to visit less touristic areas, for example Zone 3. Glasgow tourists are primarily British, but there are increasing numbers of visitors from the United States. Tourists from Europe and Asia increase these numbers considerably. Glasgow sees a steady flow of tourists throughout the year. The climate of Glasgow is temperate, albeit rainy. Therefore, the summer temperatures are cool but comfortable, and the winters remain quite mild. The nearby highlands and islands support both summer and winter tourism. The city is famous for its cultural events, which are not in themselves strongly bound by season. That said, the peak tourist season begins in June and extends well into October. Conference events are often booked late in the year, extending the tourist season. Commuters and tourists provide a counterpoint to tourism, often departing for home or vacation in the summertime, when tourism is at its peak. Furthermore, the yearly rhythm shows that tourist types stretch into less touristic zones over the summer. This is based on an increase in events happening in Southside.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 74

27/11/2020 09:59




The diagram above illustrates the fluctuations of city users in Venice over the course of a year. The busier summer months and the dominance of the Biennale are conspicuous. There is already a degree of spontaneous synchronization: while the summer months are the most popular for international visitors and day trippers, the student population is largely absent and Italian visitors prefer to visit in the quieter winter and spring. Venice has hosted the Biennale for more than 120 years, but the event has been subject to significant stretching. The exhibition used to last three months, take place every other year and be situated in the Giardini. In 1980, with the inauguration of the Architecture Biennale, the event

VFS_Cahier2.indb 75

not only spread to six months of every year but also out of the confines of the Giardini. Today, a third of the Arsenale is occupied indefinitely by the Biennale rent-free. Venice is already saturated by tourism; this is therefore a significant source of resentment. Instead of Venice adapting to the schedule of the Biennale, the event could benefit from pausing to better accommodate the needs of the city. As a result of the pandemic, the 2020 Architecture Biennale has been postponed until 2021. Hosting the event biannually, as originally intended, would potentially free up spaces for more subtle, but less transitory, economic opportunities activities.

27/11/2020 09:59



SPACE-TIME TRANSITIONS The visualization of the daily, weekly and yearly rhythms clarified the extent to which certain rhythms take place in specific areas of the city: the rhythms of the Day Trippers largely make use of one area, while the Commuters or Conference Visitors operate in another. This finding enabled us to map the rhythms in the three cities. Based on this, we establish four main zones for each city, Zone

1 being the most ‘touristic’ in the traditional sense, and Zone 4 being mostly orientated towards local use. We mapped these zones alongside the university districts, main office districts and congress centres. These maps allowed us to see how the different zones were associated with each other (or not), as well as to compare the three cities spatially.


0 km

VFS_Cahier2.indb 76

1 km

2 km

In Amsterdam five primary zones were identified, which radiate out from the most visited area in the centre. Large offices appear within Zones 3 and 4, where Arrival and Departure 2 is also located. Arrival Zone 2 is largely used by commuters, while tourists may prefer arrival zone 1. Four different ‘stay’ zones were identified: Stay 1 is largely the location for hotels, while Stay 2 hosts the greatest number of Airbnbs. In Stays 3 and 4, there are fewer Airbnbs and hotels. Mapping the primary zones independently of the ‘stay’ locations gives an idea of how visitors may transition from one area to another. Most probably, a Vacation Visitor would stay within Stay 2, while they are more likely to visit Zones 1 and 2. These transitions are also seen in the space–time diagram. Zones 1 and 2 are the most active throughout the day, while activities start shifting to other Zones in the evening. We also see that the patterns of Vacation Visitors and Commuters hardly intersect, since their activities take place in different zones, while those of the Congress Visitors and Vacation Visitors (also Day Trippers) may coincide, since the Conference Zones are distributed across the city (the main conference area being in the south).

27/11/2020 09:59




Image 1

Image 2

0 km

1 km

3 km

The fabric of the city is fragmented, and this affects the space–time transitions of residents and tourists alike. Due to historical planning, Glasgow is polycentric and car-dominated, while in some places the river is unattractive due to the high amount of vacant land and car parks, with poor accessibility to both banks. Part of the fragmentation comes from two major barriers presented to the city: the first is the River Clyde itself, and the second is the A8. In 2008 Glasgow was named UNESCO City of Music and became a member of the UNESCO Creative City Network. The numerous concerts are a major part of Glasgow’s nightlife and highlight Glasgow’s day and night economy. Nonetheless the office and congress districts lose their attractiveness during the evening as people move to Zones 1 and 2: areas with a high density of restaurants, clubs, pubs

VFS_Cahier2.indb 77

Image 1 (Zone 2): Building at the corner of Renfield Street and Gordon Street © Stephen Sweeney Image 2 (Zone 3): The Clyde Arc (“The Squinty Bridge”), Glasgow, © nairnbairn

and bars. The zones locate major touristic attractions, for example, the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, the Style Mile and Merchant City. Furthermore, most tourist accommodations, hotels and rentals are located north/ northwest of the river. However, Finnieston (west) and Tradeston districts (south) show a high number of rental accommodations and in Finnieston in particular, a high number of restaurants. Finnieston and Tradeston present clear opportunities to better connect both banks of the River Clyde with historic neighbourhoods. The city strives to restore access through its Lanes Project that will relocate the highway underground, making new urban parks to connect the east and west. The mission to the River Clyde in part wants to extend access and development along the river.

27/11/2020 09:59




Image 1

Image 2 Image 1 (Zone 1): Acqua Alta in Piazza San Marco by Carolyn Smith

0 km

0.5 km

1 km

Venice’s multicentred urban form makes space–time trajectories in the city complicated; congestion in the city’s narrow calli (Venetian streets) is one of the most visible effects of overtourism. The majority of city users enter the city from the west (via the train station, Piazzale Roma and the cruise terminals), but 40 per cent arrive via boat at locations dispersed around the city perimeter. Venice’s signposted thoroughfares are marked on the map in dotted lines: for visitors unfamiliar with Venice’s convoluted circulation, these are the primary routes which connect the main hotspots and access points. Tourism is so dominant in Venice that Airbnb apartments are located in every part of the city; the zones described

VFS_Cahier2.indb 78

Image 2 (Zone 3): F*ck Airbnb, by Carolyn Smith

by the map illustrate the relative gradient of tourism activities: from the main tourism hotspots to the mostly residential. The black stars illustrate key areas of interaction between different demographics. These are strong local centres which also accommodate more manageable degrees of tourism. Most are located in Zones 2 or 3, but Rialto Market is situated within Zone 1. If the project were to continue, these areas could be key places either for, or to inspire, rhythm interventions at a smaller, more specific scale.

27/11/2020 09:59



CONCLUSIONS Our exploration took place in three cities which have different relationships with and goals for tourism: Glasgow wants more tourists, while Venice and Amsterdam would like to better control and manage tourism. Exploring the rhythms of tourism in different cities allowed us to develop a framework to analyse the various spatial– temporal patterns and their sources; not the exact moment and location they take place, but an estimation of what triggers such intensities and why. A museum might open at 10:00 am, but visitors will rarely spend the duration of the day at the attraction: some will arrive during the morning, some later in the afternoon. On the other hand, there are common space–time frames in which more people are present. Once these crucial moments are identified and visualized, our hypothesis was that it may then be possible to use them to analyse tourism rhythms and implement the ‘bundles of practices’. Cities focus on gathering detailed information about numbers such as stays in hotels or numbers of museum visitors, but they generally lack information about the spatial and temporal distribution of tourists in urban areas. As Ashworth and Page (2011) state, very little attention has been given to questions about how tourists actually use cities. Studying rhythms allowed us to step away from the issues and policies and focus on what takes place in space and time. The study of tourists’ spatio-temporal behaviour has

AMSTERDAM The current approach in Amsterdam towards tourism is that of stretching. New hotspots are being added in Zones 3 and 4, so that the tourists can go to places other than those in Zone 1 and 2. However, the experiences in Venice show that this may bring gentrification and the loss of meaningful places for locals. On the other hand, the Zone Map illustrates that the less-visited areas are also those which suffer the most from poverty and unemployment in Amsterdam, and that inviting some events and attractions to these locations could be beneficial for the Zone 5 neighbourhoods. When thinking about the extreme tourist flows in the past years, pausing or reducing the number of tourists is what many see as a solution. Nevertheless, the pausing of tourism during the 2020 lockdown has displayed the city’s reliance on tourism, and in order to propose such an intervention, the functions in of Zone 1 and 2 would need to be reconsidered. The rhythm visualizations for Amsterdam create the chance to explore these interventions. The yearly rhythm visualization shows that the events and festivals increase visitor numbers; these could be better scheduled to decrease their impact on daily life, and better synchronized with the rhythms of the locals.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 79

been mainly researched at a descriptive level (Grinberger et al., 2014); tackling the spatial component in this exploration was a crucial step which allowed us to compare the three cities in greater detail. The basic components we identified, which are presumably present in other European cities, are city visitors (demographics), activities and places. By visualizing these in daily, weekly and yearly time scales, we were able to understand the dominant rhythms in each case study location. By comparing three cities with different issues with and approaches to tourism, we were able to develop a general framework which could be applied to other European cities. Through testing our assumptions and speculations for each city against the others and visualizing this process, we were able to develop a framework which is sufficiently generic to be applied elsewhere, distilling the primary, critical components within European tourism dynamics. The results of our speculative analysis illustrated to us quite quickly that the amount and accuracy of quantitative data a city needs to address tourism is not as high as we had previously imagined. We hope that our results can contribute not only to the generation of a shared approach to managing the tourist flows but also to defining the data that is necessary the analyse these critical metabolisms.

GLASGOW Future interventions for Glasgow fit easily within this rhythmic structure. For Glasgow, tourism is part of a larger set of interventions for a city which is greener, more accessible, more innovative and more equitable. Stretching is being used, for instance, for the planned mission to the River Clyde which involves creating new opportunities for tourism along the Clyde river. This involves stretching the economic opportunity zones in the centre of the city eastward down the Clyde. New efforts to schedule activities centre around the learning district in the centre of the city. This area is a major hotspot for conference activities and new innovative start-up companies. The ambition is to reincorporate the eastern parts of the city into these new urban activities. The city also plans to synchronize. The A8 highway represents an entry point but also a barrier to further urban activity. The Lanes Project plans to roof over this highway, creating new urban parks and focal points. This will unify the city by creating natural east–west corridors for cyclists and pedestrians.

VENICE The analytical tool for tourism in Venice is the Tourism Carrying Capacity, which is defined as ‘the level of human activity an area can accommodate without the area deteriorating, the resident community being adversely affected, or the quality of visitors experience declining’ (Middleton and Hawkins Chamberlain, 1997). This takes into account location data and demographics to a certain degree but is not mapped spatially and only references the residential population in the broadest sense. By breaking down our demographic divisions to include the different trajectories of students, commuters and elderly residents, our methodology approaches a more holistic understanding of tourism within the urban realm. In addition, space–time trajectories are complex in Venice, due to the city’s density and multicentred urban form, and the inclusion of both spatial analysis and the temporal dimension is also critical. These elements are very rarely included in Venetian tourism analysis. If developed further, this methodology has the potential to provide fresh and vital insight into Venice’s tourism dynamics.

27/11/2020 09:59



METHODOLOGY Our methodology graph summarizes the steps we took in our online collaboration: gathering ideas, developing the analytical framework, deciding on the level of analysis and the synthesis of the results. While the first steps were more on the experimental side, the later stages focused on documentation, visualization and mapping. We met weekly on Zoom in addition to exchanging emails and thoughts throughout the week. The weekly developments were documented in our project space on Open Research Platform. This helped us to reflect on our process. The production of this cahier as an end result was also fundamental in structuring our work. The fact that our track examined three cities pushed us to locate common ground for the urban analysis and proposed practical intervention. We started to look for investigative angles that would provide a shared perspective on tourism. During the first three weeks, we took time to reflect on tourism and urban analytical methods individually, and shared our ideas with each other during weekly Zoom calls. Intermediate deadlines were helpful in keeping the project moving and defining the next steps along the way. The idea of exploring the four rhythm interventions, which originated from an article by Malla

VFS_Cahier2.indb 80

Mattila and her research group in Finland (2019) on the prevention of food waste, was introduced just before the Exploratorium tracks were merged. The first approach was to experiment with documenting the daily, weekly and yearly visitor patterns. During our weekly meetings, we discussed our individual research and visualizations; each meeting would provide fresh insight and introduce a new analytical element: a diagram, visualization technique, map or new detail for the framework itself. Without access to official data sources, we often had to embrace a highly speculative approach. However, by trying new things and sharing with each other what we did, we managed to create an analytical framework for our track. The next crucial step was visualizing the documented rhythms. We experimented with different visual techniques, using QGIS for maps, Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and AutoCad for the rhythm graphs. Each new visualization enriched the others, and for the final result we made sure we retained common representations whilst also producing diagrams specific to each city and its context/ challenges.

27/11/2020 09:59



EVALUATION –Please describe one or two significant moments in this collaboration. —What did you discover in this project. —How would use this knowledge in your future work. Pinar Sefkatli

Scott Cunningham

Carolyn Smith

Deciding on the demographics, activities and spatial factors were the milestones of our collaboration. Strikingly, these crucial moments were developed in an organic way, and at a certain moment we titled them in a way to represent their position in our process. I discovered that visualization is a method for tackling uncertainty, which I would like to recover and use more vividly in my future work.

I discovered much more about the focal points and barriers of the city of Glasgow. This involved exploring the waterfronts and examining the sources and causes of dereliction in the city centre. I feel confident that traffic monitoring – by bike, car or pedestrian – will be a further part of my work. Focusing in more detail on the human scale and human rhythms of traffic has been useful to me.

Having studied tourism in Venice for some time, and being all too aware of the city’s challenges, this project has pushed me to view tourism dynamics from a different perspective: to take a step away from the specifics to better understand the key rhythms which underpin – and, in Venice, therefore undermine – the city. I hope to use this new understanding to develop specific, speculative spatial interventions for the city.

Julia Ubeda

Bettina Niendorf

The team used previous experiences and personal interests as building blocks. The most crucial moment for me was to go ‘hands-on’ and to start visualizing the abstract concepts we were discussing. These visualizations turned out to be the backbone of our exploration and brought us to a common ground. I have previously researched the tourism spatio-temporal patterns in Amsterdam, and based on this collaboration, I will complete my methodology by adding different ‘demographics’ of visitor types.

The agreement on visitor types and the documentation of their daily, weekly and yearly rhythms was a significant moment. Both contributed strongly to the further development of the project. Besides gaining further knowledge about Glasgow, I discovered the importance of the space–time transition. Hopefully, my future work involves the consultation of cities to become more sustainable and resilient. I believe the inclusion of the space–time transition in projects will contribute to it.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 81

27/11/2020 09:59



Simone Spiga Architect Simone Spiga graduated in architecture at the University IUAV of Venice, and continues his professional career by collaborating with several offices in the Netherlands and in France. His architectural research focuses on the relationship between contemporary architecture and contexts characterized by a strong historical or landscape identity.

Bureau LADA Landscape, Architecture, Design, Action Bureau LADA is a cross-disciplinary Amsterdam-based studio with a focus on architecture. Currently active in Europe and Africa, the practice tests the social capacity of the discipline through actions and performative and built interventions. Established in 2010 by Croatian-Dutch architect and urbanist Lada Hršak, the studio collaborates with practitioners from the fields of science, art, heritage and sociology.

Camilla Bertolini post-doc at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice Camilla Bertolini is a post-doc at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, studying the effects of acute climatic impacts on the lagoon species. She graduated in marine biology and coastal ecology at Plymouth University and obtained a PhD from Queen’s University Belfast with a thesis on mussel reef restoration . Her research interests focus on understanding the fragile laws governing organismenvironment interactions.

Following her training at the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Zagreb, Hršak completed the postgraduate program at The Berlage Institute in Amsterdam. Parallel to her design work, she teaches regularly (at the Royal Academy of the Arts The Hague, the Academy of Architecture Amsterdam, Delft University of Technology, amongst others) and is member of several advisory committees.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 82

27/11/2020 09:59


TALKING 10 SANDS – FISHEYE How big is the impact of microorganisms on our planet? The radical COVID-19 crisis pointed out what microbiology has known for a long time. The scale relations and entanglements between social and ecological processes, visible and invisible worlds, are the main topics of Talking Sands-Fisheye. Addressing the microorganisms, policies, ideologies and data embedded in spatial practices, the project looks into the hybrid geographies of the Venice Laguna, comparing it to the Dutch Markermeer-Ijsselmeer. Looking into the fragile balance of the shallow water territories, the narrative unfolds around the main protagonist, the ‘bricola’ water-pole. The story unravels the multiplicity of scales, communities and impacts, simultaneously reflecting the prospects of raising waters and emerging bioimmunity policies. This research operates at the intersection of architecture, science and nature, established as collaborative effort between architects and scientists in the fields of benthic aquatic biology and environmental science. It challenges a perception of water from an omnipresent ‘blue’ space, towards a rich body with agency and an essential factor for cohabitation and immunity of this planet. The project aims to inspire conversations and cross the disciplinary borders of science, arts and humanities, playing with the visible and the invisible actors and surprising interrelations in the narrative. By doing this, the project questions the accepted hegemonies of human-dominance of other species, hoping we can replug ourselves back into a planetary metabolism. ‘Fisheye’ is a call for reflection, and humbleness.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 83

27/11/2020 09:59





The narrative is presented through a sectional drawing of the mud and sand flats, taken from the Southern Venetian Lagoon, close to Chioggia. Heights in the drawing are increased 100 times, to allow us humans the opportunity to visualize the diversity and richness of this ‘flat’ zone (otherwise invisiblt to our eyes). The main section line is striped, shifting sandlines are suggested as stipple line. Pink gradients indicate alternating water levels. Light colour indicates high water Darker tone indicates low water Blue line indicates seawater level. Colour gradient indicates heatwave.

Before you are the results of the research project made during the COVID-19 lockdown, established as a collaborative effort between architects and scientists in the fields of benthic aquatic biology, aiming to inspire conversations and cross the disciplinary borders of science, arts and humanities. The radical COVID-19 crisis pointed out what microbiology has known for a long time. The scale relations and entanglements between social and ecological processes, visible and invisible worlds, are the main topics of the Fisheye project. Talking Sands is one chapter of the series that will be further developed for the upcoming Venice Biennale within the Open Call contribution to the Dutch Pavilion. It was developed with a multidisciplinary team, with Lada Hršak, Simone Spiga, Zhao Zou (Bureau LADA), Camilla Bertolini (post-doc at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice) and Dr. Harm van der Geest (Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, University of Amsterdam).

>1 0,5


0,25 0,1 - 0,1 - 0,25

seawater level

b u r am r owi cl ng of th

- 0,5 - 0,75 -1


- 1,25 - 1,5


- 2,5





Venerupis philippinarum Manila clam’s ideal environment is brackish waters with a sandy or muddy bottom, with good oxygenation.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 84

27/11/2020 09:59



Talking Sands looks into the mudflats and shallow water zone of the Venice Lagoon, following a narrative through a focus on one protagonist, the Tapes philippinarum bivalve. The surface of the mudflats and salt marshes amounts to one quarter of the surface of the entire lagoon. Together with the water they create a unique, authentic and fragile environment, an essential quality of Venice. Sectional ‘bathymetry’ or underwater topography, of the lagoon shallows looks as if it is one straight line, while a few millimetres’ height difference represents an entirely new condition for a variety of species. Conditions relating to the water column, sediment oxidization, acidity, salinity, temperatures and more aspects make an area habitable or inhabitable ... A diversity of entanglements between natural and anthropogenic factors of the lagoon take place around those depths, to human eyes almost invisible. Conditions ranging from economical, environmental, climate change, sea-level rise, ‘acqua alta’ and the temperature increase can prove deadly for many species within this thin zone. When the community of species changes, the functioning of the ecosystem changes accordingly because the species eat, breathe and move, and by doing so influence the surroundings and make the space more or less habitable for others. Changes in the functioning of the ecosystem further influence the physiology of the various species and show the scale dependencies, linking the microscopic influences to the regional and global.


VFS_Cahier2.indb 85







27/11/2020 09:59



Who inhabits the shallow waters? One of them is a migrant – an invasive clam species Venerupis philippinarum, native to Japan and the Pacific and introduced in 1983 for commercial purposes in the Venice Lagoon. Since its introduction, it has spread rapidly in the Mediterranean, replacing the native populations of Tapes decussatus. Even though it spreads well, it remains a permanent migrant, as it does not seed in the lagoon and needs to be reseeded each year.

1980 1970


Migratory routes of Venerupis philippinarum Shiohigari is a popular Japanese tradition, the outdoor leisure activity of clam-digging enjoyed by families and friends. Anthropogenic and natural drivers in the Lagoon: solar radiation, wind, tide, rain, snow, clam farming and harvesting, boats, MOSE, households, tourism, industrial activities, agriculture and cattle.


VFS_Cahier2.indb 86







27/11/2020 10:00



Among the non-native species of marine invertebrates which have invaded the Venice Lagoon and have established populations, Ruditapes philippinarum, deliberately introduced in 1983, is surely the most successful species. According to the hypothesis that alien species invasion could be favoured by an altered ecological, chemical or physical state of the system induced by anthropogenic disturbance, R. philippinarum turned out to be ‘the right species at the right moment’. This has altered the functioning of the ecosystem, resulting in a stronger benthic–pelagic coupling. In this context, R. philippinarum attains control of the system. Copyright © by the author(s) F. Pranovi, G. Franceschini, M. Casale, M. Zucchetta, P. Torricelli, O. Giovanardi ‘ An Ecological Imbalance Induced by a Non-Native Species: The Manila Clam in the Venice Lagoon’ Article  in  Biological Invasions DOI: 10.1007/ s10530-005-1602-5

Traditional bivalve fishermen in the Venice Lagoon Tiny, yet worthwhile zooming in to the diagram of natural and anthropogenic drivers, pressures, states and impacts within the Lagoon Zostera marina (eelgrass)

Multiple-use conflict is a common issue in European coastal zones. Without proper management, the unregulated superposition of drivers may lead to a chronic conflict among hardened stakeholders or to the selective survival of the few more relevant activities, with a drastic reduction of the system complexity and the consequent loss of its adaptive capability. Copyright © 2011 by the author(s). Published under license by the Resilience Alliance. Melaku Canu, D., P. Campostrini, S. Dalla Riva, R. Pastres, L. Pizzo, L. Rossetto, and C. Solidoro. 2011. Addressing sustainability of clam farming in the Venice lagoon. Ecology and Society 16(3): 26.

Clams are filter-feeders: with this process they absorb contaminants present in the seawater. They expel some heavy metals (As, Al, St, Cd, Pb, Fe and Hg) while others accumulate in inner organs, and are sold and consumed in our favourite dishes, like for example ‘spaghetti alle vongole’.

s ea

led inha


ed ha l ex ter


wa er at

suspended nutrients zooplanckton and fitoplanckton chemical compounds As, Al, St, Cd, Pb, Hg, Fe



VFS_Cahier2.indb 87






27/11/2020 10:00



One of the effects of acute climatic impacts on the lagoon species is the temperature increase. To predict the responses of organisms to changes in intensity and frequency of heatwaves, it is essential to gain a thorough understanding of how organisms respond to the temperature that they are exposed to. The thermal tolerance of organisms is dictated by a combination of exposure intensity and duration. Modelling approaches have so far mostly ignored this integration. Preliminary phase, ongoing research, C. Bertollini, Ca Foscari (a)


Global average surface temperature change



historical RCP2.6 RCP8.5

- clam-farming concessions in the lagoon - waterways speed limitations – quick - colour gradient indicates heatwave

39 RCP2.6 RCP4.5 RCP6.0 RCP8.5

2.0 0.0

42 32

- 2.0 1950




Global ocean surface pH

(c) 8.2

12 9

8.0 10

7.8 7.6 1950




VFS_Cahier2.indb 88

RCP2.6 RCP4.5 RCP6.0 RCP8.5

(pH unit)

Mean over 2081 - 2100









27/11/2020 10:00



After China, Italy is the world’s second-largest producer of Manila clams, with official data reporting 35,700 tons landed in 2010 for a global income of over 90 x 106 Euro (Fao, Fishstat 2011). A recent study carried out using other data sources reported for Italy a production of 50,600 tons in 2008 (Zentilin et al., 2008). Over 95% of the production belongs to the north-eastern part of Italy (Venice Lagoon, Grado-Marano Lagoon and Po Delta. Copyright © by the author(s) F. Pranovi, G. Franceschini, M. Casale, M. Zucchetta, P. Torricelli, O. Giovanardi ‘ An Ecological Imbalance Induced by a Non-Native Species: The Manila Clam in the Venice Lagoon’

The economic importance and pressures related to clam-production are increasing. Hydraulic dredgers, on boats called ‘vongolari’ used for clam fishing, strongly impact the seabed. Use of this method is strictly controlled and allowed for authorized fishermen only, while illegal catching is forbidden yet frequently reported to the police. Hydraulic dredgers or turbo blowers are large dredgers which, once touching the bottom, penetrate the substrate by means of teeth. Violent jets from numerous nozzles come out of the water to eliminate mud or sand, which immediately fill the dredge itself. They have a strong impact on the seabed due to the powerful water jet. towing bitt

collecting box




hauling warp

towing warp dredge

Direction of tow



VFS_Cahier2.indb 89






27/11/2020 10:00


METHODOLOGY How to establish mutual online ground for research, dealing with cross-disciplinary alliance and multispecies sensitivity? Actually the best methodology was via WhatsApp, sending intuitive images, and responding to these. The individual ‘scale’ of WhatsApp allowed creating a digi-personal level of understanding, yet to be explored. Further, we aimed at regular weekly Zoom meetings, defining the topic and articulation, with whoever was available at that moment. Marine biologist Camilla (Bertolini) is actively engaged with bivalves in the Southern lagoon, therefore we decided to focus on this particular species,

VFS_Cahier2.indb 90


exploring the diversity of scales, spatial, political, scientific and climatic aspects, which one can observe when focusing deeply.

Methodology in Numbers IN emails: 32 from Camilla Bertolini 20 from Simone Spiga 4 from Harm vd Geest OUT emails: 29 from Camilla 19 from Simone 11 from Harm Calls: 4 Zoom calls

27/11/2020 10:00


91 EVALUATIONS Lada Hršak The collaboration had a jolly, energetic and slightly awkward feeling. The inability to experience the physicality of the water territory presented a challenge. Simone Spiga I think this project showed how it is possible to find the same wavelength of thoughts amongst people with very different backgrounds. I am pleasantly surprised by the fact that despite differences in background and ways of communication, it was possible to think of this project and bring it through to a conclusion only via remotely communicating and without ever working/sitting together at the same table.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 91

Camilla Bertolini Two significant moments for me in this collaboration were: 1) When early on a Saturday morning I was getting ready to go for a run, I saw mussels on a bricola full of biodiversity (orange sponges and others) and decided to take a picture and share it with Lada to demonstrate what I meant about complexity and why I thought mussels were cool. When Lada replied enthusiastically, I knew we were making progress towards something great. 2) When we emailed back and forth images of seagrass and complexity from pictures found in scientific articles, and then I understood we were definitely on the same page. I discovered through this project that collaboration with someone in a different country that you didn’t really know before is possible.

In my future work, I will definitely try to involve more people and try to communicate my scientific ideas in a different and engaging manner.

27/11/2020 10:00



‘What do we need?’ Zola Can Was born and brought up in Amsterdam where she is currently based as editor, writer and composer of various cultural and journalistic projects. She holds a degree in Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies (University of Amsterdam) and specialises in social and political developments in Turkey, with a specific interest in the position of minorities. Currently she is part of the Biennale Team, set up by the Chief Science Officer, where she is involved with the orchestration of the complementary research programme of the Dutch contribution to the 17th Architecture Biennale.

Oost Sahand Sahebdivani Storyteller and founder of the Mezrab storytelling stage in Amsterdam East. He works for both the Dutch and Persian media and makes programmes on various cultural, social and political topics. www.

Nieuw West Adnan Atik Initiator and storyteller of the Melting Pot in the New Metropolis programme. He sees Creative Arts as a means to connect people and to support young people on their way to their dreams.

West Aysegul Karaca Plays in various film and theatre productions. In addition, she performs her singing talent on various stages at home and abroad.

Centrum Gunifort Uwambaga Co-owner and publisher of MENDO, a bookstore, online retailer, design studio and publisher in the centre of Amsterdam.

Together with story-catchers in each city district:

Zuidoost Carmen Hogg Creative producer, style anthropologist and DJ in Accra, Amsterdam (Southeast), Lagos and London. She works with emerging talent and aims not only to make beautiful productions, but also to contribute to the visibility and growth of creatives.,

Zuid Quico Touw Creative entrepreneur and heart for art and culture. He is the founder of the small concert venue and creative community Cinetol in the Diamantbuurt.

Noord Serginho Stekkel Has lived and worked in Amsterdam Noord since he was fifteen. He is an entrepreneur with experience in different branches. By mixing cultural, commercial and social components in his programmes he brings different worlds together. He is the owner of Bureau Stekks and board member of Adam Music School and The Black Male Archives.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 92

Hugo Herrera Tobón A Colombian-born, Spanish-citizen and Amsterdam-based designer, curator, and communicator. Having resided in Colombia, the U.S., Spain, Portugal, Greece, The Netherlands, Lithuania, Equatorial Guinea and Mongolia, his nomadic studio specialises in cultural and editorial productions that lie at the intersection of design, communication and arts. Craftsmanship, identity, and the soft powers of visual communication and typography, are at the core of his artistic production and visual discourse. His design portfolio includes publications for institutions like the National University of Colombia, the Radboud University Nijmegen, or the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. Herrera Tobón is curator at Subjective Editions, a rhizomatic publishing initiative founded by Annelys de Vet that develops bottom-up engaged mapping publications. He published the Subjective Atlas of Colombia in 2015, and the Subjective Atlas of Garliava Neighborhoods in 2019. He is guest artist and curator for “Kaunas 2022 – European Capital of Culture”.

27/11/2020 10:00


WHAT DO 11 we NEED? 1. The project was set up by the Chief Science Office ( in collaboration with the Spatial Vision project team; both are part of the City of Amsterdam. The City of Amsterdam is currently designing the Spatial Vision – a vision for the future of the city in 2050. The goal of ‘What do we need?’ is to make the voice of residents part of this vision for the future for Amsterdam: a project for and by the city. Within the context of the municipality, the idea was discussed and approved in advance by the city council directors and the aldermen van Doorninck and Meliani. The Spatial Vision project team ultimately makes an analysis of all the impressions collected, which will become part of the Spatial Vision Amsterdam 2050.

Building on the main question of the 17th Architecture Biennale in Venice ‘How will we live together?’, Zola Can, together with seven ‘story-catchers’, explored what Amsterdammers need in the future. With the question ‘What do you need in the future of the city?’ they did not investigate what people want in the seven boroughs of Amsterdam, because surely everyone wants something, but what they need is a completely different question. Each district has its own vibe and character. This diversity constitutes Amsterdam’s identity. In the various boroughs, story-catchers collected conversations, images, poems and stories for a period of six weeks. Based on what they ‘caught’, this chapter provides an impression of what residents of Amsterdam need in the future. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, this study took place entirely online. Especially in these times, now that everything seems to have come to a standstill or is slowly starting up again, ideas about the future, about how we then live together in the city, offer guidance. The process was not always easy. Participation and voice are important processes within the functioning of a (local) democratic society, but are often difficult to organize. ‘Who do you reach?’ and ‘How do you motivate people to contribute?’ are questions that keep recurring in the organizational process of participation. This research project has tested various methods to also be able to shape participation in the time of COVID-19. The results will be used in the Spatial Vision Amsterdam.1

About the design (by Herrera Tobón) The material presented in this chapter invites you to stay alert to the many levels of information that overlap and coexist. The continuous and colorful backgrounds on the following pages refer to Daniel Quasar's LGBTTQQIAAP flag. This is the fully gender-inclusive version of the ubiquitous peace and gay flag, graphically and conceptually reworked to transcend borders and limits. The typography displays several voices polyphonically: that of ongoing quests or questions, of instruction and guidance, of location and situation, of citizens’ requests and of personal reflection. On every page you will find a map of one of the seven city boroughs, each reflecting on the delimited areas, the multiplicity of human

VFS_Cahier2.indb 93

connections that exist within the city, as well as the constant search for space for those who live in it. A continuous sidebar on the right side of the each spread reveals the working process and the methods used in this study. Most importantly, you will find the multiple stories and collected images, which provide glimpses and reflections on the needs of Amsterdam's citizens. All in all, the presentation of the material in this chapter is an invitation to read through these individual and collective desires that ask for a more humane and cohesive urban future, and that aspire to political integration. The design represents the complexity, the layering, the colorfulness and the diversity of the city of Amsterdam.

27/11/2020 10:00



Story-catcher Borough


Nieuw-West Adnan Atik For a long time, Nieuw-West was a disadvantaged neighbourhood, but changes are now in full swing. As a result, the neighbourhood is more and more seen as a place with many opportunities, also with different kinds of social organisations. These organisations try to contribute to the image of the neighbourhood, but while doing so they do not always take the residents’ needs into account. This development is reflected in the stories about the future told in Nieuw-West. By sharing dreams and practical needs, local residents, from young to old, have outlined their own vision for the future of Nieuw-West.

Neighbourhood that makes Do not forget the elderly memories together […] Let us not forget the elderly in Lately I have noticed that there is a lot of joy missing in my neighbourhood. Before, every now and then something would be organized, but at the moment I don’t really feel a connection with the neighbourhood. Organizing events could certainly ensure more connection and also facilitate creating memories with each other. Gio, 21

Youth needs support I notice a strong responsibility. My parents did not give me much and now that I am 18, I notice very high pressure. I think drop-in evenings for young adults could be really important and could certainly be useful to many. That is how I myself would feel the support of society to continue developing. Felicia, 18

Accessibility with electric cars I think that the accessibility from and to other city districts should be better. You often have to transfer a lot to get from Nieuw-West to another part of the city. From bus to tram and then another bus. Perhaps it is helpful to use electric rental cars in Nieuw-West such as car2go. […] Aimane, 25

VFS_Cahier2.indb 94

these times and make sure we pay attention to their loneliness. Organize more activities and give each other more compliments. With a small compliment you give the elderly a good feeling in their hearts. See if there are elderly people in your area who need help with groceries or just need a conversation. Let them know that we have not forgotten them. Ibtissam, 17

The future could be good … […] Every Saturday it is like a party on the square. In the evening, Tussenmeer transforms itself into a boulevard. The cosy atmospheres that warm up for a nice meal or just a cup of coffee with baklava. And don’t forget the well-known kunefe with Turkish ice cream. There is a large variety on offer, which you can also see reflected in the crowded terraces, the busy shops and pedestrians. […] As long as these vibes continue to survive, my future in New West looks bright... Anass, 25

Keep the hood clean … together […] So many rubbish bags around the bin that could fit easily. If one person puts it next to the bin, the rest will follow, just like a flock of

sheep. We have to do something about this. There should be signs with better and clear instructions. There should be more enforcement for this and fines must be handed out because it is a mess. […] In my future neighbourhood, we treat each other properly and together we keep our neighbourhood clean. Ouahib, 30

Crying out for renovation of the houses we live in […] Residents live in houses that are crying out for renovation. It is a bit strange because when you stand at the east bank of Sloterplas, you see apartment buildings that have been completely renovated. If you walk a little further towards the BP petrol station, you will see houses there that should have been demolished years ago. But those are only social housing homes. The privately owned apartment buildings yield more as they can be refurbished. We have to change this in Amsterdam. I notice that this creates a distance between people with social housing and privately owned homes. We have to look for the connection. In my view, this is renewal of the neighbourhoods, and should involve local residents in discussing and determining the interests of neighbourhoods together. Kaotar, 22

Listen to the real Amsterdammers, make place for the not-rich I do not feel heard in Amsterdam or in my district. Amsterdam is

27/11/2020 10:00






‘Changes are in full swing: do not forget the residents’ changing and it does not reflect the image of the real Amsterdammers. In my opinion, politicians and people within the district do what they want and not what the residents want or need. Amsterdam has become unaffordable on many fronts and only the people who have money can live here. Houses are transformed into self-owned homes and people with social housing are moved outside the ring. People come from outside Amsterdam, blindly buy a house and turn an entire neighbourhood into a yuppie street. There is nothing wrong with that, but if you see it happening everywhere and shut out the other residents, then in my view you hinder the emancipation that is often called for. Fatima, 26

So much you cannot do, but what can you do? I need us to be creative and innovative. Talk to people about their intrinsic motivation. When people say, ‘I can’t work,’ I think, ‘But what can you do?’

Phase 1 The idea for the future-relay – toekomstestafette

This requires a certain attitude. An attitude of: ‘I work innovatively and I am creative.’ ‘What can the government do?’ This also applies to the government: Be creative and innovative, and encourage parties to come together. […] From a conversation between District Director Ilse Plasmeijer and Fatimzahra Baba

To play sport near your house […] A fit society is important. We must continue to encourage this. This means that more facilities should be made available in this area. More training and exercise stations in the neighbourhoods for local residents. More tennis courts, because they fill up quickly and then you have to wait a long time or sometimes it is not your turn. More basketball courts, there must be more variety than just football pitches. In addition, we should also consider exercise stations that are suitable for the elderly, because they also want to exercise. Nouhaila, 17

In this COVID-19 time, the ‘futurerelay’ needs to reach a large number of residents without being able to organize real life meetings. The ‘relay’ method goes as follows: seven people in seven districts all speak with two people, and these people then speak with two more people within a week, and they speak with two again, and so on. This is how the ‘digital baton’ is passed on. Within two weeks, we could collect 42 stories on the website The seven city council directors of the seven districts start the relay. It could become a new, digital form of participation. (See our Annex: Communication).

Phase 2 Adjustment: The story-catchers We start in good spirits. But during the week in which the city council directors start, little happens. Here and there an impression trickles in, but much less than expected. We get the idea that it is due to the fact that the directors have little time to have conversations with people, to give these conversations a creative form and to encourage these people to continue the relay in addition to their regular jobs. We need people who can pull the relay and that is how the idea for the story-catchers arises – creative people, each with their own interesting network in a certain part of the city. They can take the relay to a higher level by reaching a great diversity of people because of their cultural knowledge.

Phase 3 Analyze: What are we doing wrong?

©Wikimedia Commons

VFS_Cahier2.indb 95

The seven story-catchers start their relay races, but it soon turns out that they also hit a wall. For them too, the relay stops after the first conversations they have. It takes a lot of time and energy to motivate people to contribute themselves. In various zoom meetings, we analyze what the problem is and what we can do about it. The first conclusion is that the rules of the game are too complicated. By drawing up so many rules, the threshold is too high for people. We also notice from the kinds of impressions we receive that people think the conversations should be presented in a kind of professional interview style. Something is not going well in communication there. It seems as if the number of rules limits people’s creativity.

27/11/2020 10:00



Story-catcher Borough


West Aysegul Karaca As I listened to people’s stories, I became aware of the neighbourhood’s long history. I spoke to people who had lived in West all their lives and who had seen the neighbourhood changing. What I heard a lot, for example, was that the neighbourhood had become ‘too hip’. Of course, things change over time, but it is a shame when beautiful things, such as diversity, gets lost. With the arrival of many expats, some people also find it difficult to deal with the ‘anglicisation’ of the neighbourhood. Several people I spoke with thought that we should look at the history of the neighbourhood and at which things we should preserve, in order to build a bright future. A good mix of social housing and owner-occupied properties with sufficient affordable housing, is one of the most important conclusions I have heard in people’s stories.

The ‘neighbourhood feel’ of the past as inspiration for the future ‘How do you see Amsterdam in 2050?’ was the question. A difficult question, but also confronting, because at the same time you realize that you are not going to make that year at all and that your sons will then be about the same age as you are now. So I’m going to think about what I would like for the children of today and look for a photo from the time when I was a child myself. Amsterdam West, Landlust, one car in the street, grocer on the corner and my school and playground in the background. It is no longer like that of course and it will never be that way again, but it was a real neighbourhood, with a neighbourhood feel. [...]

[…] Booming BoLo! The story of ‘we are so hip’ is not the only story. This district has so much more. It was once a working-class neighbourhood and it is a neighbourhood with a migration history too. Let’s build that future story on the existing historical stories. The stories of real people. Let’s do it Colours and diversity together with all those groups that are On the cycle path or through the grass luckily still represented here. From Westerpark to Bos-en Lommer Arjen Barel, 30 From Oud-West to the Baarsjes By car or scooter From the Muslim butcher to the coffee bar A soya latte or a lamb chop Quickly inside from the terrace A locally brewed beer and fries with mayo

Living together in our capital A feast for the mind I love Amsterdam, But I love West the most.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 96

Vacant buildings for the community

[…] There are vacant buildings. It is unclear what is being done with them. The people have been displaced, as have the market and shops. Let’s use the vacant buildings for French balcony or a rare garden learn–work trajectories or neighbourFrom social rent to expensive new hood activities to bring the neighnew buildings bourhood back together. To offer All of them on tight square metres young people the opportunity to work The housing market remains cornered on their future again, without getting discouraged. Then you immediately From across to under the bridges tackle the ‘problem’ in West. [...] A squirting water hose or dry in a dinghy Anonymous, 25 From the mothers on a carrier bike to the fathers with a baby carrier Dreaming under A closer look at the child-friendly the greenery places I wish for more greenery, more space, more freedom I wish for more colour, more joy, more diversity

André, 74

Let’s build the future on the stories of the past

Güler Karaca, 35

[…] But what keeps me awake and where I dream of sometimes ... green roofs. How fantastic would it be if all the ideas, promises and plans for roof greening could finally be implemented in real life. Then my energy bill won’t keep me awake.

27/11/2020 10:00





‘Cherish local history’ Then I lie in a cooler bedroom in the summer. Then in the future I will only lie and dream softly under the greenery. Lea Witmondt

Social housing to avoid expulsion

Phase 4 Adjustment: Letting go of the relay

workers’ houses from the 1950s and everything else. I hope that a reflection of this diverse architectural image will also be represented in the city’s cultural discourse. Let the theatre blossom more, give young people more space to develop themselves through art and culture. Where are the open stages, jam sessions, garden concerts? [...]

[…] If this development of the new people and toko’s continues, more and more hip people will join in … Who can and may stay here? Where does this lead? How do we keep our OudWest as it is? With different people, different cultures and economic classes. The house value is increasing enormously. If this decreases somewhat and we keep social housing, everyone could continue to live here. Anonymous, 35

Taking my boys out for dinner for a reasonable price [...] Restaurants in the neighbourhood are very nice and cosy, but very expensive. For a reasonable price I would like to go out with my boys more often. [...] Anonymous, 45

Cultural differences regarding a guide dog [...] Even my parents have moved to the east of the country. They were tired of being the only Dutch people. They are blind and had a guide dog and were not allowed to enter the shops, because there is a cultural difference regarding a dog. […] Anonymous, 54

Give spaces to the youth to develop themselves through art [...] Yes, West looks artistic with its old canal houses, new construction,

VFS_Cahier2.indb 97

We adjust the rules of the game; we want to give people more freedom to be more creative, but first without losing the basic idea of the relay. Still, it continues to cost the story-catchers too much effort to pass on the baton. We decide to let go of the relay idea (see our Annex: Communication). It is striking that as soon as we do that, the story-catchers start to develop their own methods. As a result, we receive significantly more and different types of stories. The different styles of the different story-catchers lead to different methods, adjusted to what worked or not: Method 1 Start with conversations within your own network and through these people you find new people to talk with. You let people make an impression of this conversation, or you do it yourself. All story-catchers used this ‘most natural’ method, whether or not in combination with other methods.

Abigaël van Rooijen, 23

Resting places in the urban environment Where has all the street furniture gone? The ageing population requires more resting places in the urban environment. [...] Michael Katzberg

Method 2 Directly address people you meet in the neighbourhood with the question ‘What do you need in the future?‘ And then work out the reactions yourself. Carmen Hogg (Zuidoost) noticed that keeping it as accessible as possible was important to get people to contribute. Method 3 Ask your own network by email to respond in a reply email to the question ‘What do you need in the future of your neighbourhood?’ Sahand Sahebdivani (Oost) noticed that it was important for his network to also ask the question in English. Method 4 Use your own business and employees to ask people/customers to contribute. Gunifort Uwambaga (Centrum) noted that with this method, it was possible to keep some degree of ‘randomness’ in the captured stories. With more freedom in the last part of the process, we collected good impressions of what the people in the different districts need. The seven values that arose from the collected stories give a good idea of what Amsterdammers need in the future.

Conclusion Participation and voice are important processes within the functioning of a (local) democratic society. ‘What do we need?’ provides a number of lessons for this.

27/11/2020 10:00


Noord Serginho Stekkel Noord is hot and happening, but there is a group that feels left out when it comes to new developments in the neighbourhood, for example, in the range of cultural events and employment of youth from different backgrounds. Residents are very concerned about the major shift in the identity of Noord. With this development, a fight occurs against gentrification. There is a need for clarity about how the transition will be facilitated by the municipality, so that residents themselves can also benefit from changes. Look at the IJ-oever for example. People from Floradorp or De Banne do not go there. In places like the Tolhuistuin and Eye, there is no programming for the long-term residents. Visitors to these places are generally people who work in Noord or have recently moved there. And besides these places there is very little to do in Noord. Many youth centres have been shut down and never replaced. One and a half youth centres is not enough in the largest (in terms of surface area) city district of Amsterdam.


Story-catcher Borough


old and new. In the future Amsterdam Noord, I also want to continue to see the old street views and culture. Gershwin Bonevacia

Centquatre We need a Centquatre in Amsterdam. Just like they have in Paris. An incredibly large indoor space where artists come together. From circus to breakdancers, actors to theatre designers ... A free place to train, create and network every day! Laila

Make young people responsible

Let the story of a neighbourhood also be told by its own residents Noord fascinates. She is raw, honest, proud, diverse, creative and social, and she triggers. Noord is a rewarding subject to write about, film or photograph. There is only one problem: most of the people who write about Noord are not from Noord. They didn’t grow up there, don’t live there, or only recently. When I read something about Noord, it was not written by someone from Nieuwendam. When I see photos of Noord, they were not taken by someone from the Plan van Gool. My wish for the future is that stories are not only told and portrayed about Noord, but also by Noord. (Images & story) Laura van Roemburg

VFS_Cahier2.indb 98

Leave what is and let people create […] Leave the warehouses and build apartments and offices in them. Not everything has to be abolished just because it is cheaper. There must be room for creativity and that is hard to find with the project developers. Leave room for the people in Amsterdam to invent and create themselves. Have them try pilot-schemes and transform old buildings into Amsterdam communities.

[…] I think it would be great if we could make young people responsible for physical parts of the city. Think of a breeding ground or squares with art in the public space. Local residents could then show up with ideas about how things can be better or more liveable. I think that beautiful things will arise and that people will also come closer together. Sophia Visbeek, 31

Urban expansion on water

[…] The city gets built up at the expense of nature, but without nature the city is not habitable. Getting a balance in the city will be a tough challenge because affordable housing Nicole Oosterveer is also urgently needed. The rent and purchase prices can no longer be Cherish the old as well paid for young people or residents […] While this district is in unique tran- with a low income. Should we build on the water? […] sition, I think it is important to keep looking for the right balance between Rebecca Weijnen

27/11/2020 10:00



‘Make space for local youth’



Make space for organic development […] What I also miss is space for temporary initiatives. There used to be some, but every m2 is now sold for a high price, issued quickly with accompanying permits. There is little room for organic growth, for tinkering and trial and error. […] Nancy Wiltink, 58

A city in balance I dream where I live. I dream of a place where a fusion of cultures is the norm, a time and place where we as Amsterdam are an example for the rest of the world. I dream that the building sites around me will transform into a magical environment such as the Vondelpark. Resembling the romantic urban at-

mosphere as in the movie ‘She’s gotta have it’. You know! That one ... I dream of a city where citizens are given a platform and get a say in the design of their own living environment. I dream of brown cafes that are closely linked to the neighbourhood. I dream of meeting places where my neighbours are not house numbers but have a name. I dream of more trees on the street, and the balance between residents and tourists has returned. I dream of a place that is the epic cultural centre of Amsterdam. A place for all colours, smells and tastes. I dream of a living environment where I can discover the untouched (world) city life. I dream of a city in balance.

• When it comes to the question ‘Who do you reach?’ we have found that the role of story-catchers has been very important. With their network we have been able to reach people who otherwise would not have participated so quickly. This way you ‘catch’ more different stories than when you organize a participation meeting in a neighbourhood hall. • When it comes to the question ‘How do you motivate people to contribute?’ it is important to find a balance between ‘setting clear rules’ and ‘letting go’. The rules are important for clarity about what is asked of people. However, too many and too complex rules can scare people off. In order to express creativity, a certain amount of freedom is required. • It is difficult to motivate people to contribute if it is not clear to them what is being done with their ideas. You can question whether ‘including the impressions in an analysis for the Spatial Vision’ is too abstract. We need methods in which participation is more than just highlighting the voice of residents. Participation is also about doing things and having the space to contribute to ‘What happens next?’ ‘Letting others participate’, as we have done, does not mean that people are heard. Can a municipality actually listen? What is striking is that people miss stories in the neighbourhood, about the past, about what is going on now, and about what people hope and dream for tomorrow. How to collect these stories and how to share and preserve them is a big question, even now in a time of great digitization in which many stories evaporate before they are captured. People need stories to understand each other and themselves. Through stories we discover the world and ourselves.

Process Scheme

Ismay Dotinga, 27


(1 x district)


1 2 3 4 5 6 7

PHA S E 1 «RE L AY I D E A 1 » Council Director fu t u r e i m p r e s s i o n s PHA S E 2 « RE L AY I D E A 2 » Story-catchers s

VFS_Cahier2.indb 99







27/11/2020 10:00



Story-catcher Borough


Centrum Gunifort Uwambaga When we were in lockdown because of COVID-19, for once the centre of Amsterdam was empty and quiet. For a moment tourism did not seem to exist. From the stories that have been collected in this district, I noticed that this major change has made people think about how we should deal with tourism in the future. What type of tourist do we want to attract? And how do you design the city to achieve that? These are questions that are now at play because we have seen that things can be different; a centre where all Amsterdammers can feel at home. In addition, if you look around in Centrum, you will mainly see white locals and white tourists. The diversity of a mixed city like Amsterdam is not reflected on the streets of the district. With the bookshop MENDO, we try to attract the diversity of the city to the centre as well. In the stories about the future of Amsterdam Centrum, mostly collected in the bookshop, inclusion as a theme plays an important role. An accessible centre with enough (cultural) activities for all Amsterdammers, in addition to an adjusted supply of activities for tourists, could offer the whole city of Amsterdam a lot in the future.

Monumental conservation I would like to make a case for the preservation of the beautiful architecture and monumental buildings in Centrum.

top ten cities excel in adapting to ‘survival of the fittest’. A city should work to be the most adaptive, not the most intelligent, the richest or the biggest. Maurice Mizero, 28

Kick out Zwarte Piet Amsterdam needs to kick out Zwarte Piet.

with the appeal of a metropolis and the flair of a small village. Beth, 56

Radical solutions All over the world, tourism is growing massively, with cities all over the world suffering from tourism. Only radical solutions can turn the tide! All tourism experts argue the same Daser – as a city you need to take radical decisions. Conversation between Stephen Hodus and Gunifort

Fewer coffeeshops, more culture Fewer coffeeshops, more culture in the future of Amsterdam. Jade, 61 Franz, 68

A city that embraces you

Work to be the most adaptable

Amsterdam, I hope you will remain a city with grit that embraces us, a city

The Global Power Index measures the most powerful cities in the world. The

VFS_Cahier2.indb 100

A city of the night Mokum has always been a city of the night. My dream for the future is that nightlife remains central. Clubs must be able to experiment with new forms of expression. Less bureaucracy, more celebrations! Shamiro, 33

Less discrimination and racism For the future, I would like less discrimination and racism, and more understanding of each other. Taking

27/11/2020 10:00

Value Stories

Amsterdam is more than cheese, tulips and the Red Light District







ZO OM ZO O M More clear communication Less strict game rules

We recieve stories, but for the storycatchers it is still too difficult to let people pass the baton.



Felicia, 18

Using own network to find new people + stories

Inclusive instead of ‘tolerant’ Amsterdam in the 21st century: creativity, art, (sexual) freedom, science, inclusive - not ‘tolerant’, capital, international hub, trade.


Reply by e-mail




Edward compares Amsterdam to a large village, with different neighbourhoods/districts that all have their own character. He would like us to design these neighbourhoods (more) consciously. From the interview: ‘The centre needs a place or area where young artists can stimulate each other.’ ‘In the future, I hope that craft and craftsmanship will again play a central role in the city.’ ‘As a city, we should also be more critical of the type of tourist we attract and what we offer them. Amsterdam is more than cheese, tulips and the Red Light District.’


A bicycle bridge across the IJ. From Centrum to Noord.


Josephien, 21

A bicycle bridge

PHA S E 3 - « A N A LY Z I N G W HAT I S W RO N G » Analyzing in Zoom meetings


care of each other. Showing kindness to each other.


dead end ideas 1 & 2


‘Centres need diversity too’





Using own shop

Being able to buy a house


Mister Won Tan, 41

Daantje, 30


I wish that in the future I’ll be able to buy a house in the centre of Amsterdam. Love, Directly addressing people


Don’t be mega!!! Amsterdam shouldn’t become a mega city!!!


Chloë, 25

Gunifort in conversation with Edward Leenders

VFS_Cahier2.indb 101



27/11/2020 10:00



Story-catcher Borough


Oost Sahand Sahebdivani It is interesting to see that, because my podium Mezrab attracts a certain kind of audience, the stories collected in Oost are partly told by expats. These new residents of the city are often seen by Amsterdammers as a group that brings new problems. Expats do not necessarily have ties with one specific district. They live where they happened to be able to find a place. That is why, when they think about the future of the city, their ideas relate more to the city in a broader sense than to a specific neighbourhood. I noticed that many people see ‘too few public spaces’ as a major problem. Although there are many cafes and restaurants, there are few non-commercial places where people can meet without having to spend money. I also noticed that the city is seen by many people as fussy (tuttig). A city whose underground scene has disappeared. I sense a lot of despair and pain there, both in people who have lived in Amsterdam for a long time and in people who are new. New residents found Amsterdam attractive to move to because of its alternative image, but we lost that alternative, edgy side of the city a long time ago. For the future people dream of more space for the city’s frayed edges (rafelrandjes).

Going out without money […] In the five short years I’ve been living in this city, I’ve seen a lot of organized community spaces forced to shut down or move far far away. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to go out without having to spend money. Even the parks aren’t designed to be public spaces with an absence of public toilets, tables, lighting ... apart from a few strongholds, there is no space for people to go out and just ‘be’. Chris Elyassi

Less institutional racism means less racism on the streets […] The city must be a liveable environment for refugees and others who need it. I want to regularly see freely accessible street theatre, outdoor theatre, storytelling and dance. Last but not least, less institutional racism also means less racism on the street. The latter is not a concrete wish with

VFS_Cahier2.indb 102

steps that can be clearly realized, but one of which I have a very great personal need. Shekoofeh, 29

Showing the stories of buildings […] As a newcomer you don’t know the stories of the buildings. I would like to see these stories on the buildings, but also digitally. Apps that tell us where we are walking and why we should appreciate what is around us in Dutch and English, for newcomers and tourists. Varsha, 27

festivals in the summer celebrating all the different heritages that live there. Philip Melchers, 30

Colourful people What I miss after decades of living in Oost are the frayed edges. It was a neighbourhood with colourful people. Now only a few of them are left, like Wahid who cycles through the streets singing. He has a psychiatric past, but knows how to connect people with his cheerfulness. […] Elizabeth Venicz 52

Create conditions for culinary cultures to flourish For a migrant from a country with a food culture, the food in the city is really below average. From an economic point of view, it is also impossible to sustain. […] If Amsterdam were to offer cooks from different cultures a home, for example in buildings with shared kitchens, or food halls that don’t look expensive and hipster, then we would put ourselves on the culinary map. You can brag about all the nationalities in the city, but also allow these cultures to be able to let everyone enjoy the culinary cultures they bring with them. Anastasios, 37

Celebrating diversity

Places to try, to create and fail

[…] In general, I’d say more creative, cultural spaces that help celebrate the diversity of the city. I would like for Amsterdam to feel a pride in the people that live there – something that I would say Montreal does better than Amsterdam, as they have so many more

Amsterdam lacks places where you can and may doubt, where you can and may experiment, where you can and may collide, where you can and may make, where you can and may fail, where you can and may slog. Places you go because you don’t

27/11/2020 10:00





‘Do not restrict where people’s culture flourishes’ know something yet, because you want to try something out or because you want to present something to someone. Simply because you need time, space and reflection […] I call them ‘Slogging Places’, places where things are not self-evident, not settled in the framework of a common normal, places where nothing is certain: places where slogging is the norm. Janine Toussaint

Public toilets for people without a penis I want to see more public toilets. The kind that people without a penis can use too. The street lighting must also be carefully considered. Some places are really scary to cycle through at night as a woman. […] Irena, 25

We are living a life of excess, now prioritize

Annex: Communication Phase 1 (As explained on

[…] In an era of political correctness, we need places that challenge, educate and inspire us. They’re usually small in size, yet very large in spirit, and the municipality needs to help them grow. They (could) become a differentiator for the city.

Choose one or two people to talk to (with online tools or with a walk at a 1.5 metre-distance). These two people also choose one or two people and they each also choose one or two, and so on. After each interview, the person who has invited makes an impression of the conclusions of the interview the same day. This can be done in various ways, such as with a drawing, poem, image, short story or video. The only requirement is that you quickly submit something that says something about the question ‘What do you need in the future?’ This can be done at: (always first read the rules carefully).

Tudor Bosinceanu, 49


in the material and in the stimuli to which we expose ourselves. To really be able to live in wealth. […] From a conversation between District Director Karima Arichi and Fatima Elatik

Places that challenge, educate and inspire

Questions on boards to ask a stranger […] Perhaps one idea to get locals and visitors to interact in a real way is to design tiles that on one side have a marker for a visitor to stand, and on the other side a marker for a local. To get them to talk we should print questions on the tiles that you would ask a stranger.

[…] We needed the crisis to connect with ourselves and with each other. We started looking after each other. We realize that we live in excess and Jacqueline how little we actually need. To hold this, we have to set priorities. Austerity

1. Think about the main question of the relay: What do you need in the future? 2. Choose one or two people to talk to. When choosing two people, choose someone who is close (physically or socially) and someone who stands further away from you. So it could be the girl next door, the football coach or that interesting artist you don’t know very well. The only requirement is that one of the two lives in your own city district. 3. Just like the conversation itself, the final product does not have to be long. It is an impression of the conclusions. If it is a text, maximum 250 words; if a video, maximum one minute. It is fine to use the following file formats: pdf, doc / x, ppt / x, xsl / x, jpg, jpeg, png, mp4, mov, m4v, mp3 and m4a files. Files need to be a maximum of 100MB. 4. The relay lasts a total of six weeks. The end date is 4 July. After 4 July, contributions will no longer be included in the analysis and publication. 5. Forward the relay email to the person you are going to speak to. After the conversation, you pass on the ‘baton’.

Wahid (mentioned in ‘Colourful people’) at Javaplein: “The most beautiful square in all of de oranje”. In the future Wahid needs car-free streets. Image by Zola Can

VFS_Cahier2.indb 103

6. Submit your final product by emailing your age, district and end-product to: TOEKOMST@AMSTERDAM.NL.

27/11/2020 10:00



Story-catcher Borough


Zuidoost Carmen Hogg In Zuidoost, people mostly came with impressions about things that are currently lacking in the district. Plenty of different ‘things to do’ is something I have heard many times over. For cultural events, good cafes and restaurants (other than for a quick cheap bite) and speciality shops, people now have to go outside their own part of the city. Of course, the rise in rent is also seen as a major problem. With the construction of many new houses, there is a growing fear that these homes will only be accessible to new residents. Many people I spoke to also feel that the government has not been listening to them. This was reflected in the difficult process of collecting stories and the attitude of people towards the municipality. People were very open to me personally, but they are gemeente-moe (tired of the municipality). There are already so many initiatives and projects to improve the neighbourhood where the opinions of the residents are asked. Whether anything is done with those opinions is unclear to many people. Ultimately, the question ‘What do you need in the future of the neighbourhood?’ is important, but for residents the question ‘What will happen to my ideas for the future?’ is even more important.

People’s homes are here, but they do not ‘live’ here

Just like a ‘real’ city […] Living and working do not have to be so separate, but could be more intertwined. So that when you walk down a street, you have everything, just like a real city.

[…] In Zuidoost we still very much rely on clichés: ‘In Zuidoost there are many black people, so what do we do? Sports and music.’ From a cultural point of view, there is not Christa, 38 much, and the catering industry does not contribute to a liveable climate Live and consume in the neighbourhood. No wonder people’s homes are here but they in de Bims! don’t live here. […] I miss the nightlife – it would be Jet, 28 nice if you could spend your whole day in de Bims! Nice restaurants and a nice club. Venues for exhibitions, I Tax expats like Oscam: a café with exhibitions, open in the evening too. More of […] However, as a municipality that would be nice, so that you stay you could do something against in the district to live, eat and drink. expensive reselling to expats. Add a percentage of tax to this, and put that I also want more free workspaces where you can work without a memback into residential facilities for bership. With good coffee! And a gay current residents. You could make a bar! policy for that. […] Omar, 34

VFS_Cahier2.indb 104

Anonymous, 36

Places to go out are not for us What do we need? Nice restaurants and cafés, that’s one thing that needs to be improved here. This entire Arenaboulevard area simply failed for us residents of Zuidoost. It serves all those commuters and all those head offices that are here, but those people literally leave. It is very busy in de Poort between 11.30 am and 2 pm, and after that it is completely empty. They ensured that all those cafes are aimed at them. I mean, yes, they spend their money and have a Friday drink, but it is not for ‘us’. For us, there is only the small Bijlmerplein, but we don’t really go there either. And all those little cafes in the neighbourhoods are gone too. With nice places to go out, we would also leave the city district less, to really live here. I think those drunk people, some of those men hanging around, they are part of the game that is also Zuidoost. Ravenna, 33

Walk and stroll

Jeffrey, 28

27/11/2020 10:00





‘Work, live, play and relax in the same place’ No idea … I am not around much in Zuidoost

To have vegetables and fish around A vegetables store or a toko in the H-Neighbourhood would be nice. There is nothing around us. Or a fish shop in de Poort. If there is no market you cannot buy any fresh fish.

Phase 4 (As appeared on Make an impression of your idea for the future of the city and send it to toekomst@ Maybe you want to have a conversation with another Amsterdammer? You can make a report of this, in whatever form. But you could also come up with something and do it yourself. The impression doesn’t have to be long; a few sentences is enough. All forms are welcome: video, instastory, poem, story, image, drawing. Please include your age and that of your conversation partner, and district.

Evaluation – Please describe one or two significant moments in this collaboration.

Carmen in conversation with Jurjen

No more living on islands […] It would be great if we could pull each other along in our growth and change. New residents could pull the old residents along, in things like the new vegetable gardens around the corner. We still look at each other from a distance, I think this is a shame. […] The change in Southeast carries the risk that one group may drive the other out, especially if we continue to live on islands like this. Will there come a moment when old residents no longer feel at home in this district? What I would like to see concretely in Zuidoost is a hall or conference centre where we can come together. Carmen in conversation with Aldo There isn’t one there now and there is a great need for it. Jacqueline, 40

Don’t ask again, do it Every year I am asked for those things, I never see anything. They want to know what we want again. When are they going to do something with it? Sharon, 32

VFS_Cahier2.indb 105

Zola: A significant moment in this project for me was when, in a very short period of time, I found seven creative people with different interesting networks who willingly wanted to participate in this project. Their enthusiasm and their felt necessity to collaborate in this project was important for me to find confidence in what we were doing. They believed in the importance of collecting stories in new ways and from different kinds of people, in the context of making policy for the future of Amsterdam. Their trust motivated me to continue the project at times when the process stalled. Hugo: Being invited and getting acquainted with this project and its team is a beautiful experience. Working alongside Zola, Caroline and Huda has already brought me new human perspectives, different points of view and exchange of ideas, which is pretty much ‘what I need’ in Amsterdam. And then the many citizens’ contributions are revealing, and can empower us communally and also personally to further voice our needs as a society. – What did you discover in this project? Zola: Participation means more than just letting people tell their story. I learned that participation needs to be defined more as something that comes from two sides. The organizer should have an equal share in the participation process and we should think about ways and methods to give shape to this. Hugo: I confirmed that following one’s instincts, taking some risks and

27/11/2020 10:00



Story-catcher Borough


Zuid Quico Touw What I noticed in the collected impressions on the future of Zuid is that a lot of the stories contain something about the design of the different neighbourhoods of the district. On the one hand, the impressions relate to the question about who the design is intended for, and on the other hand about the effect that a particular city design has on residents. For example, I noticed that a sense of alienation is arising because the range of shops and cafes and restaurants (especially in de Pijp) is increasingly focused on tourism. In addition, accessible communal places for local residents, places to gather, experience culture and experience a sense of freedom, are missing. Sustainability, more greenery and less air pollution are also mentioned several times in the collected impressions. For the future of Zuid, these factors are also important in order to counteract the feeling of alienation.

Air quality […] It seems to me a good aim to further reduce traffic (cars, mopeds, motorcycles) in the city centre and also de Pijp. And in addition to the good public transport network in Amsterdam, local traffic and (shared) residents’ cars and entrepreneurs no longer producing any emissions. This will also create more space for cyclists, walkers, plants and trees. For example, a decrease in the number of parking spaces on the street creates space for trees and wider cycle paths. Because we live on a busy street, I sometimes worry about the air quality on the street and also in our house. […] Ard van der Veld, 40

From green roofs to basic income I need: Nice places to live, also for families, the elderly and starters. Green roofs, empty pavements. Much more greenery and trees around us. A quiet Van Woustraat; fewer cars. Enough work for everyone to feel comfortable. A basic income.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 106

Common sense I just have a lot of trouble with the difference between rich and poor. Always had. An all-time problem … I think. […] Partially, the city needs common sense. I just don’t know where to get it. And the question is always whether I have enough of it myself… […]

Car-free weekends. Everyone to contribute his or her own bit, so Amsterdammers feel more “connected” with each other. […] Sarah, 43

Places for people of all economic stature What we need in the future is the same mix of people, freedom and creativity as I find here today. What I sometimes miss is free (public) spaces where people of all economic stature can come and have meetings, on a non-commercial basis. Joekenel, 50

Do not build larger houses, but communal places What good is the construction or renovation of large houses? Is it the tax income and the positive business climate? Or is it the normalization of the emotional disorder that creates a life centred on financial stimulus and needs to be infinitely fed with the emptiness of mobiliary? Instead, let’s fill this emotional gap with something real. Let’s fill this with community, in the form of communal spaces. Deniz Kaya

The kid says: “An affordable house would help!!”. Story and comic by Rudi Jonker, 58

Subsidize places for connection […] At the moment you will only find cafes in de Pijp where a beer costs €5 and lunch above €10, in line with the new target group of above-average earners, but not the original local residents. A solution for this could be that the municipality subsidizes places that they themselves

27/11/2020 10:00





‘Affordable houses, clean air and less focus on tourists’ consider valuable. […] [Places] that connect local residents and have a cultural component.

enjoy yourself in the city if you don’t have any money – there are so many things that are behind a paywall one way or another. […]

From a conversation between Josefien van Poppel and Sophie van Balen (29)


Thinking in solutions

Action NOW

Hotels become: student housing, To be fair, there is still a lot of work to live & work studios, homeless shelters, be done to make Amsterdam flourish refugee shelters, retirement homes. […] in the present. Only then can I address what I need in the future. […] Isa Grutter, 26

No paywall What the city needs are more ‘non-hostile places’ such as Mezrab, Treasure House, and for me personally the church. What I mean by that is that you can also move/

Jeffrey, 28

Personal approach From macro to micro society! Back to a society where you get a personal approach at the grocery store. Anonymous, 60

pushing certain boundaries is important and, more often than not, a good thing. I made some new mental connections that I hadn’t made before. I wrote about things and asked myself questions I hadn’t asked before. I used design tools and techniques that I hadn’t used before. I met and worked remotely with a number of new and interesting human beings. I instinctively contacted a typographer in Latvia who willingly prepared for me a special version of his not-yet-released typography for this project. I reflected upon concepts and explored meanings in communications, and revised a few ideas about colour, type, textures and layers, sweet-shop material for my practice. I read and proudly gave shape to citizens’ stories images and wishes. I worked for many hours and had a good dose of fun too. – How would you use this knowledge in your future work? Zola: If I continue working on such participation projects in the future, from the start I would ask myself the question ‘How are we going to listen?’ Hugo: Both in the design-making and the subject at hand, there are interesting lessons for me. My past and present curatorial projects have been concerned with voicing citizens’ experiences, mapping and visualizing them. Taking on Zola’s self-question ‘How am I going to listen?’, I’d like to add ‘How am I going to observe?’ The existential reflection ‘How and where do I stand towards others and myself?’ is at stake.

Teamwork in Numbers E-mails On Process On Editing On Typography/Layout

329 251 57 27

WhatsApp/SMS Process Messages Design/Editing Messages

312 263 49

Online Meetings Time spent online (min.) Process Meetings Design/Edition Meetings

'Thinking in Solutions' by Isa Grutter, 26

VFS_Cahier2.indb 107

19 1.157 400 757

Submitted Stories


Published Images


Published Words


27/11/2020 10:00



Wouter Pocornie Wouter Pocornie is an architect and urbanist from Amsterdam, the Netherlands. During his studies, he focused primarily on bottom-up strategies in urbanism and on design approaches, influenced by semiotics, in architecture. As a professional, Wouter worked for small and large commercial practices as well as the City of Amsterdam. He currently dedicates most of his work to grassroots organizing and building up a local movement with multidisciplinary creatives in the southeast part of the city (Bijlmer). As a researcher, entrepreneur and designer, he prefers a contextual approach supported by critical studies as well as integral design strategies with a strong sense of visual languages.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 108

Iván Martínez Iván Martínez is an artist and book designer based in Mexico City. He studied Graphic Design at the UAM Xochimilco in Mexico City and attained a Master’s in Typography at ArtEZ / Werkplaats Typografie (Arnhem, 2013–2015) and his postgraduate studies at the Jan van Eyck Academie (Maastricht, 2016–2017). His current work focuses on the development of fictitious narratives and speculative publications on the aesthetics of rumor and its mechanisms of propagation and modification. He is the author and designer of the publications Megaphone News, The Sunken School and Unusual Persecutions.

Erica Overmeer Erica Overmeer, is an artist and photographer based in Amsterdam and Berlin, with a specific interest in the urban environment, and publications as a form of spatial experimentation and research. In her practice and through international collaborations with architects, urbanists and designers, her work explores the social spatial experience of the urban environment, and urbanism as a form of disruption and civic engagement. Recent publications include Landscape Files, Archipelago, Impression Mexicana, and Ajusco.

27/11/2020 10:00


PROTEST 12 OR NOT TO PROTEST With this research, we explored and critically discussed the linguistics and iconography of disruption, protest and engagement – in the context of the ideas related to a multispecies urbanism. We explored these topics in relation to the urban context of Venice and Amsterdam, the 2020/2021 Biennial theme ‘How will we live together?’ and ‘Values for Survival’ as introduced by the Venice Exploratorium. With Protest or not to Protest we looked at the manifestation, contextualization and representation of disruption and activism as a spatial form, and as a form of engagement and care – in the media, online and otherwise. Eleonora Sovrani

Eleonora Sovrani obtained a Master's degree in Visual and Multimedia Communication at the Architecture University of Venice. She has worked as researcher and curatorial assistant for several exhibition projects and publications, including Done.Book, Die Vermessung des Unmenschen and Tous Contre le Spectacle. She co-curated the exhibition The Most Dangerous Game, which opened in 2018 at the HKW in Berlin. As an independent researcher and film director, she primarily deals with the interstices that hide in between physical reality and its variations, created and modified by media technologies. Since 2016 she has worked with the non-profit association We are here Venice, with a particular focus on researching and communicating the negative impacts of cruise ships in Venice.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 109

During our exploration, our discussions became absorbed and synchronized by the protests related to the killing of George Floyd and the rise of the global Black Lives Matter movement. As these events built and unfolded through the media and in our lives – the collectively mediated images became part of our vocabulary and conversation. These simultaneous developments deeply informed our approach – and the questions that we posed ourselves and each other shaped a narrative of their own. Questioning the forms and formats, we operate with and by – from within – this process was finalized in an open-ended feedback loop, as our contribution to the Cahier.

27/11/2020 10:00



How do protests manifest? Describe

What does this ‘protest’ look like, or how does it manifest itself

Difference between protest for, protest against protest against

VFS_Cahier2.indb 110

27/11/2020 10:00




VFS_Cahier2.indb 111

27/11/2020 10:00


VFS_Cahier2.indb 112


27/11/2020 10:00


VFS_Cahier2.indb 113


27/11/2020 10:00


VFS_Cahier2.indb 114


27/11/2020 10:00


VFS_Cahier2.indb 115


27/11/2020 10:00


VFS_Cahier2.indb 116


27/11/2020 10:00


VFS_Cahier2.indb 117


27/11/2020 10:00


VFS_Cahier2.indb 118


27/11/2020 10:00


VFS_Cahier2.indb 119


27/11/2020 10:00





13/6 Bio

Methodology Bio Questions RE: Subject


Design Proposal individual

end of April







Methodology After a first online conversation with each track participant, Erica, as the track leader, suggested we begin our exchange using a list of questions related to the track topic which was originally the aesthetic of protest. Most of the questions were related to our personal practice and interests. Our first step was writing and exchanging our bios.

After having discussed recording and sharing our meetings, we agreed to do so, sharing only the transcribed versions online. After every meeting Erica shared the






6/7 6/7





From the first meeting, we decided to fix at least one online appointment per week and agreed on a suitable time for everybody based on our respective time zones (with participants located in Amsterdam, Berlin, Mexico City and Venice). For practical reasons we also agreed to schedule our meetings on the same day each week. A few days before our weekly meeting, Erica usually sent us the assignments which formed the basis for the following online discussion.



Exploratorium Team

VFS_Cahier2.indb 120

Cahier (2)

Track Team

idea for this track originates in our curiosity and fascination with protest –as a social MAY JUN

other Tracks




recap and the new assignment via email, to be developed and forwarded to all the participants at least one day before the following meeting. This made it possible for us to read all the texts and share our personal reflections on them during the meeting.

materials. We had online meetings through a variety of platforms, such as Google Meet, Go to Meeting or Zoom, depending on the technical problems we encountered with one or the other.

At the start of our conversation, Erica suggested that we avoid sharing images for the first two-week period, in order to focus on the subject matter without influencing each other visually. The content we shared primarily came from our references, and the collective sharing and discussion led to different versions of the first assignment attempts. Rewriting our personal bios based on our shared interests and through the lens of the track topic was also an effective way to get to know each other and form a collective form/ focus.

Methodology in numbers Methodology in numbers: Phone calls: 19 Chat messages: 310 Video conferences: 13/90 min ea. Dates: 04/05/2020, 11/05/2020, 18/05/2020, 20/05/2020, 25/05/2020, 08/06/2020, 15/06/2020, 17/06/2020, 22/06/2020, 29/06/2020, 02/07/2020, 06/07/2020, 13/07/2020 Emails: 121 Exchange of documents, meeting notes, transcriptions, articles, images and videos: 63

For communicating – apart from our weekly online meeting – we mainly used email and WhatsApp messaging for faster and shorter exchanges. We used Dropbox and the platform for exchanging links and

27/11/2020 10:00



Evaluation Iván Martínez From the beginning of the working process, the team addressed the act of protest as a vast concept that involves countless meanings and approaches. From that statement, it was necessary to set a methodology that could address the topic from a personal and subjective way. It was very meaningful to discover how the practice of each team member was previously connected to the subject, and how each approach could portray several features of a complex topic that in current times need reliability and openness to be addressed. Erica Overmeer Based on our research, I discovered how our worldview – and our shared understanding of reality, or that which we consider ‘real’ – is based on the stories we tell. The narratives we develop socially, culturally and economically to sustain or reinforce our 'shared' version of reality. Protest questions these narratives, and challenges what we consider real, necessary or indispensable. Protest asks for a collective reimagination of the world – and demands a rethinking of the possible, by all means possible, on all levels of existence.


Eleonora Sovrani The process of sharing and reflecting on personal experiences and practices through rewriting our bios gave us the chance to explore common interests and inspirations, but also to reflect on our own experiences. Online communication in particular needs to be direct and accurate, since many important tools that we use during live communication are missing. Constant exchanges, updates and feedback are essential for detecting and overcoming potential obstacles for trust. This relatively short exchange period opened up many questions about the issue, highlighting the constant need to look for new forms of protest.

Wouter Pocornie Two moments stand out to me: getting to know our track team members through comprehensive bios and without imagery, as well as the solidarity/BLM demonstrations that took place in Amsterdam around the same time this project took place. During our talks, when we discussed each other’s bios, I realized how art imitates life, and how life can, in turn, imitate art. Considering the content of the Exploratorium and specifically our Track, I will further examine and elaborate on the dynamic values of protests.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 121

27/11/2020 10:00



Afaina de Jong Architect

Afaina de Jong is an Amsterdambased architect. With her creative studio AFARAI she works at the boundary of architecture and art. As a studio AFARAI considers itself a feminist practice that encourages change on social and spatial issues and that accommodates differences. Afaina’s work is deeply connected to represent people and cultural movements that are not traditionally represented in architectural form. For Afaina it is important that architecture is not only perceived, but also experienced and interacted with. Her discourse is international and intersectional, connecting popular culture with architecture.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 122

Gio Lourenço Actor

Sofia Berberan Photographer

Gio Lourenço is a professional actor, born in Angola and based in Lisbon. He studied at CEM with a scholarship from Centro Nacional de Cultura. He is a resident actor of Teatro GRIOT, which explores topics related to the emergent contemporary European identity, intercultural and deterritorialized, and its reflection in theatrical practice.

Sofia Berberan is a Lisbon-based photographer. She graduated in Philosophy from FCSH/UNL, where she also gained a Master’s in performing arts. She completed a course of professional photography at the Instituto Português de Fotografia, is part of the photography collective‘Imagerie’ and is the resident photographer and consultant to the artistic director of Teatro GRIOT.

Gio has worked with directors such as Rogério de Carvalho, Zia Soares and João Fiadeiro, among others. He has participated is movies such as “Arriaga” by Welket Bungué and “A Ilha dos Cães” by Jorge António, and in the documentaries “O Lugar que Ocupas” by Pedro Filipe Marques and “TEMPESTADES, Ensaio de um Ensaio” by Uli Decker. He also collaborated as an actor in the installation “Circular Sul” by visual artist Mónica de Miranda, presented at MAAT.

Sofia works on the performative aspects of photography, in particular in the exhibition “Biblioteca das Imagens não Vistas”, with photographers Magda Fernandes and José Domingos, and the installation “Casa das Belas Adormecidas”, with the director Paulo Lage. She works with several theatre companies and publishers, and her photos have been published in several newspapers, magazines and books.

27/11/2020 10:00


PRETA 13 SPACE OF OTHER LISBON Space of Other is a spatial installation and performative space by architect Afaina de Jong and artist Innavision that explores the relation between space and identity in the context of the gentrifying city. The installation mediates between the public spaces of the city, its interior spaces and its residents altering notions of representation through presentation. Spaces like identities are constructed. And even though spaces can often seem neutral or given, our movements, activities and life are always dictated by the way space is produced. The same is true for identity. Identities are constructed and not always by ourselves. At this moment in history, we are once more reconsidering notions of identity, while at the same time, cities are becoming more and more universal and generic. Gentrification is displacing residents who have over time created local cultures, causing the loss of identity, community, collective memory and public space. Spaces of Other aims to find answers to the question of how to define identity within the dynamic environment of the city. During the summer of 2019, Space of Other hosted performances and talks with local creatives, thinkers and doers in the Space of Other installation at Wozen Gallery in Lisbon. Actor Gio Lourenço performed ‘Preta’, a work based on his early childhood in the self-build community ‘Fim do Mundo’ on the outskirts of Lisbon. Instagram: @spaceofother

VFS_Cahier2.indb 123

27/11/2020 10:00



GIO LOURENÇO IN CONVERSATION AFAINA DE JONG After the performance of PRETA in Space of Other, Gio Lourenço sat down with Afaina de Jong for an interview. Afaina, who is a Dutch native speaker, posed her questions in English, which were loosely translated by the videographer of the performance Mariana Cecchini from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Gio, who is a Portuguese native speaker, then answered in Portuguese and his answer was then interpreted by Marianna and loosely translated back to Afaina again. The complete interview was

recorded and translated into English for this publication by Portuguese translator Ivo Lima Carmo. Both the English and Portuguese language have in their own way a dominance of language through the legacy of empire. Therefore, one must consider that the interpretation of language, the difference of meaning from English, to Portuguese and also from Portuguese to Brazilian Portuguese, is an intrinsic part

of the conversation as published here. For the publication of this interview, we have chosen to include parts in the original Portuguese as spoken by Gio. At times in brackets, the translator offers additional information for understanding. Alongside the interview, photographs from Gio’s childhood in the the self- build community ‘Fim do Mundo’ are juxtaposed with photography by Sofia Berberan of the neighborhood as it is now in 2020.

Afaina de Jong: Maybe you can explain a little bit about how the space works for you and how you play with the Space of Other. Because I saw you playing with the line, right? For me it feels that you understand the space, because you work with limits. I see you drawing lines. So maybe you can explain a little bit how the space works for you – with this piece – how you played with it? Intuitive? Premeditated? How was your experience? Giovanni Lourenço: I played a lot with intuition. Obviously, it is very visual and playing with those lines was also a way of understanding my own upbringing. Those lines are paths that I made when I was a child.

SÃO O MEU DESENHO DE MEMÓRIA DO SÍTIO ONDE CRESCI THEY ARE MY DO QUAL PARTE MEMORY’S DRAWING A “PRETA. OF THE PLACE IN BAIRRO DO WHERE I GREW UP. FIM DO MUNDO, They are different kinds of routes, all different, which I recognize when I see that space. [This is] a more WHERE I GREW intimate space, where those lines gain a bigger dimension. That space turns UP AND WHERE into a neighbourhood. It’s very much like my childhood. ‘PRETA’ BEGAN. One arrives and builds a house, NO BAIRRO DO then another arrives and builds another house, and another FIM DO MUNDO, house. So, there are several routes that I can take inside the neighbourhood, where I can ONDE CRESCI E go one way or another. It is VFS_Cahier2.indb 124

Space of Other - Wozen, Lisbon 2019

very cool to play with it. One house here and another one over there, that is what makes those footpaths. But that is only in my imagination. For me, being in that space was a magical act. It is such an intimate space. I must say I always have in my consideration the intimate space. It gains a different dimension if I stage it on a big stage or if I do it in more theatrical terms, in an intimate space where I get bigger [Gio says literally: ‘num espaço intimista fico maior ainda’ - Gio is trying to explain that in a small space, the level of exposition and risk is much higher. I try to keep close as possible to his own words]. The intimate space devours, eats you easily compared with an enormous space where you become an ant and disappear. On an intimate stage either you grow with it or you’re done.

27/11/2020 10:00


Afaina: can you explain a bit more about the piece, what is it about? Also the relation with your childhood? I am also very interested in knowing the transformation of you as a black boy from another country, coming to Cascais, into a new world... How was it for you? Can you talk about this? Gio: When I arrived in Portugal I was with my mum. When she decided to come here, this happened at the same time as the civil war in Angola. She could have chosen to stay there, but decided to come and live in Portugal, because she liked the country. Then there is the transition - when I go to live in a peripheral neighbourhood, where people are just dwelling in houses that they build themselves and are given a number in order that the house can be legal. It is a transition... I come from an African country where it is hot and then I arrive here and it’s cold. I arrived and I said that I wanted to go back to my homeland. Basically, I didn’t get out of my neighbourhood.


VFS_Cahier2.indb 125


never really be sure if she would

attack. Or I could go directly here I CROSSED FROM [Gio is pointing to something to the interviewer], passing to the A TERRITORY, other side. So, there was this parallelism. Over those years, by MORE CLOSE AND just living in that neighbourhood, playing in that way and walking and jumping around (as a child I jumped FAMILIAR, TO very high) ... If I did that as an adult, I would break myself into OUTSIDE THE pieces on the floor. My body is different. Often, when by that dog, what I saw BORDER OF ‘FIM DO Iwaspassed the game. A funny thing that started to happen was the fact that MUNDO’. IN THAT I was growing and I became faster. CROSSING I PASSED FOI UMA ESPÉCIE A FEMALE DOG – A DE RITUAL DE BLACK DOG. PASSAGEM. ESTE

Bairro do Fim do Mundo 2020

which created a territory of fear which every child in the neighbourhood had to deal with. I was afraid of that dog. When we crossed the line to go to school, then she showed up. As soon as I got out of the house, I had to face the game: is she going to attack or not? Should I go this way or that way?. I had kind of two territories. I went through it and had to face the possibility that she would bite me – which never happened [because] she was a young dog and I was a child too and it was all a game of ‘I bite you, I don’t bite you’. She was playing. This is my territory, she said. I almost get you, almost don’t, I show you my teeth or not. Once I chose that path I would






VFS_Cahier2.indb 126


Bairro do Fim do Mundo 1992


RELATION TO THE WORLD. When I developed this piece, I started from a conversation with Sofia Berberan, which resulted in ‘Preta’ [the feminine noun for black, which doesn’t exist in English]. How can I play? Me as a child and her as a black [dog], [Gio says literally: ‘eu enquanto criança e enquanto ela preta’ - only a bit further one understands he is talking about the animal] How do I relate to this and put this together? In one gesture, suddenly one hand becomes the expression of a bark. How does this happen, the movement and the voice and the body language? It’s cool. Here I only show a part of it, the game between me and her, when she is already there. A kind of incarnation of the game of fear in order to deal with fear itself. Afaina: how old were you when you came to live in the neighbourhood? Gio: One and a half.

27/11/2020 10:00

127 Afaina: how old were you when you left the neighbourhood? Gio: Twelve. Only later I started to go to town.[Gio just says ‘town’, by which he means Lisbon.Cascais is not a city. It’s a rich village belonging in the outskirts of Lisbon] Afaina: in my mind it was a black neighbourhood, a community where everyone knew everyone else. How was it, the first time, that you went to a big city, you are a twelve-year-old black boy and you arrive here? It’s a completely different architecture... have you ever seen so many white people together? Or different people? How is that? Maybe you can explain a little bit? Gio: Foi bastante estranho. It was quite odd. I was already familiar with white people, although it wasn’t the same kind of white people that I was used to, plus there was also a gypsy community. I was always inside the community, moving inside that space – the so-called ‘The End of the World Neighbourhood’ - and at the same time there was the elite of Cascais, ali mesmo ao lado... just right next to it… The ‘End of the World Neighbourhood’ loads an entire history. When I came to Cascais, it was a very formatted thing. Everybody was preppy, all looking the same. I didn’t know what I wanted to become; I was someone who was always related to art and dance somehow. Quando comecei a tentar a minha sorte como actor e bailarino, tinha que me deslocar e comecei a descobrir outros mundos, outras organizações do espaço. Tinha que apanhar o comboio para me deslocar, a viagem de comboio parecia-me imensa e interminável. When I started to try my luck as an actor and a dancer I had to move, then I started to discover other worlds, other organizations of space. I had to catch the train and that trip seemed to me immense and endless. The train journey was a trip itself inside my head.



VFS_Cahier2.indb 127


Bairro do Fim do Mundo 1992


27/11/2020 10:00

128 IS WHAT DETERMINED THE ARCHITECTURAL ORGANIZATION. IN LISBON OR OTHER PLACES OUTSIDE THE NEIGHBOURHOOD WHERE I WENT, IT WAS A DIFFERENT SCALE, THERE WERE BUILDINGS, WHICH AT THE TIME SEEMED A VERY EXOTIC THING TO ME. Afaina: I have more two questions. Your neighbourhood doesn’t exist anymore. What is this it like? The place where you grew up, your memories, they disappear. Physical memories, buildings, all gone... Gio: meu bairro desapareceu, as pessoas foram realojadas, mas mantenho contacto com algumas pessoas que lá viviam na altura. Tenho as fotografias, poucas, da minha infância, visitei o bairro poucas vezes. A vegetação tomou conta daquele lugar, depois da demolição do Fim do Mundo, ao lado do local onde eu vivia contruiram prédios. My neighbourhood disappeared, people were relocated, however I maintain contact with some people that lived there at that time. I have a few pictures of my childhood. I visited the neighbourhood a few times. The vegetation took over that place, after the demolition of Fim do Mundo, buildings were built next to the place where I lived. It’s hard. There are so many emotional memories which are so present. There was a community and a playfullness. Agora já nada do que me lembro existe. Now nothing that exists that I remember. There is a heavy side to it which is still there in a different form... it is very emotional. It is nice [‘bonito’ is the word that Gio uses, but be carefull because “bonito” in this sense doesn’t mean just pretty! he is using it as a flat adjective] and at the same time has a horrible side considering all that got lost. The proximity. Before, there was a house here and another one over there. A high building may be a better construction but it is odd. If the

VFS_Cahier2.indb 128

VALUES FOR SURVIVAL: CAHIER 2 13 houses are side by side, you can ask your neighbour for salt and sugar. In a building you go up the stairs and when you get there you think ‘What am I doing here? Forget it.’ ... That is what I miss the most. These things are pure.


Bairro do Fim do Mundo 2020



27/11/2020 10:00

129 THAT PLACE AND, INEVITABLY, OF THE WORLD THAT I EXPERIENCED LATER. Afaina: The second question: you are part of the only black theatre company in Portugal. It is very special and you are doing very well, making your own place, movies, it’s great... Maybe you can talk a little bit about this. Because the theatre world is very much contemporary dance, theatre, in a white world, right? How did you come here and claim your own space, with a black company, as a black actor? Gio: A minha companhia é o Teatro GRIOT. É a única companhia em Portugal cujos actors são todos negros. No principio, foi uma questão de sobrevivência, de criar uma estrutura que nos pudesse garantir trabalho regular. Se não havia papéis para

PRETA SPACE OF OTHER LISBON 13 em coisas tão essenciais como o desenho de luz para os actores negros. My company is Teatro Griot. The only ensemble in Portugal in which all the actors are black. In the beginning it was a matter of surviving, to create a structure that could guarantee regular work. If there weren’t roles for us, blacks, there was the need to create them, selecting texts and plays that could make that possible. Then it became a process of research in which one works with the relationship between the black body and the scenic space, and that body, evidently, carries an experience which is transferred to the stage. Teatro Griot is over 10 years old and now things are quite different, but back in the days when we started, the presence of black actors was much more reduced. However there are still some issues to be addressed, like the need to re-think the presence of black actors in the performative arts, to think about its form

Bairro do Fim do Mundo 2020

nós, negros, houve a necessidade de os criar, escolhendo textos, encenações que o possibilitassem. Depois passou a ser um processo de pesquisa, onde se trabalha a relação do corpo negro com o espaço cénico, e esse corpo, evidentemente, carrega uma experiência que se traduz no palco. O Teatro GRIOT tem mais de 10 anos e agora as coisas estão bastante diferentes, mas na altura em que começámos a presença de actors negros era bastante mais reduzida. Mas continuum ainda presentes algumas questões como a necessidade de repensar a presença de actores negros nas artes performativas, pensar na sua forma e nos mecânismos que a condicionam, e na prática pensar

VFS_Cahier2.indb 129

and its conditioning mechanisms and, in practical terms, think of essential things like light design for the black actors. We founded the company in 2009 with the peculiarity that we are all black, nevertheless we are a company of actors. That’s the only difference compared to another companies. When we are acting, people think that we would perform African plays. No. We perform classic and contemporary pieces. Why should we perform African stuff if Africa is in us, in our skin? When one sees one of our shows,

it’s already Africa in us. It is there already. We are just doing theatre, and sometimes there is this situation of addressing us as ‘the company of the black actors’, but we don’t address to them as ‘the company of white actors’ [laughs]. It’s funny. They put us in a box, but we are Portuguese as well and we act as Portuguese. Obviously, the questions that we are facing imply.... My colleague Zia Soares – artistic director of our company – raises this question:

HOW DOES ONE LIVING IN A PORTUGUESE SPEAKING COUNTRY, IN WHICH ONE HAS THE MEMORY OF THAT LANGUAGE, A LANGUAGE THAT IS NOT YOURS AND YOU HAVE LEARNED, AND YOUR LANGUAGE IN ANGOLA IS KIMBUNDU, AND THEY TOOK IT AWAY FROM YOU DURING COLONIAL TIMES, YOUR LANGUAGE – KIMBUNDU – IN ORDER TO MAKE YOU SPEAK PORTUGUESE... where do you stand with your memory regarding a language you had to learn? It’s a cool question, isn’t it? You have a language, that someone takes away from you in order to make you speak to him, despite the fact that the other person won’t communicate in your language, which is Kimbundu, in your own country. They can’t speak it and take it away from you in order to force you to talk to them in Portuguese.

27/11/2020 10:00



Afaina: Right, I was reading about the guy who designed the film, which is actually made for white skin. ¬ Gio: It is what I mentioned in the previous answer. For example, when we consider the light design for a play in Teatro Griot, we give more and more importance to the fact that it is fundamental to take into consideration the skin tone of the actor on the theatre stage. Inappropriate lighting, for instance, can hide the expression of the actor, and that is very significant. Film and lighting historically have a white referential, for obvious reasons, and it sustains the motives by which the presence of black actors in performing arts has been so reduced.


Bairro do Fim do Mundo 2020


Bairro do Fim do Mundo 1992

Bairro do Fim do Mundo 1992

27/11/2020 10:00



PRETA in Space of Other - Wozen Lisbon 2019

VFS_Cahier2.indb 131

27/11/2020 10:00



METHODOLOGY SPACE OF OTHER The first installement of Space of Other took place in Lisbon at Wozen gallery in Lisbon. The semi-transparent space acts as an intermediary between public space, that is, the street, the interior space of the gallery and the guests at Space of Other. During the summer of 2019, every week Space of Other hosted a performance or talk with thinkers, creatives and do-ers. Inside the space its guests are in a space of their own. Space of Other serves as a platform to elevated and contextualize conversation and performance to an online and offline audience. To do so language plays an important part. There is no dominant language in words or other means of expression to investigate how identity and space collide in cities with a colonial past. The highly graphic space in its intensity serves as a background while being very specific and present at the same time. The space as well as the graphics are exploring a language of otherness in the contemporary city that is often veiled as being supposedly universal but is dominated by spatial representations of national identity, colonial power and masculine design dogma’s. PRETA PRETA begins with the memory of Gio Lourenço, when he arrived at the Bairro do Fim do Mundo from Luanda, Angola, in the 1990s. The neighborhood ‘Fim do Mundo’ was demolished; what is left is some family photographs and the construction of a memory about a space which doesn’t exist anymore. The performance evokes a tactile, sound and visual memory of that time in which the body rediscovers the gestures and itinerary of the transition from childhood to youth. Preta was a fierce dog who delineated the border between the house and the school - the Bairro do Fim do Mundo and the outside world - compelling Gio to experiment with movements of escape, silence and transgression. A performance about two distinct universes, territories closed in

VFS_Cahier2.indb 132

themselves, and the possibilities of transition and connection between them. After a meeting with Afaina de Jong and a performance in ‘Space of Other’, in the gallery Wozen in Lisbon in the summer of 2019 the performance became more evocative of the notion of place. Gio started to relate more evidently with the geometry of space as a reminiscence of the spacial organization which was a social organization - the community life of the Bairro do Fim do Mundo where each person who arrived would build their own house, creating a very peculiar geometry, and the enclosure of the outside world, not so receptive to what it considered ‘the other’. PRETA is the boundary, the edge that forces us to look at ourselves and at the other facing what is shadows us [“nos assombra] and what in us becomes shadowy [‘se torna assombroso’]. BOTANIC MEMORY From the memory of the 1990s, not much remains apart from some photos. Through photography, the space of Bairro do Fim do Mundo and the daily life of a family appear. In the photographs one finds the story of the actor Gio Lourenço, and it is from there that the performance PRETA was born. The neighbourhood disappeared at the end of the 1990’s, leaving the vestiges of its daily life, mismatched with the memory. The space was taken over by vegetation which devoured the debris, transforming it into nearly uninhabited remains. The space became an organic body, torn by the wild plants - a botanical memory, permeable and subject to the rhythm of the seasons. The vegetation is the becoming [devir] of the matter which corrupts and transforms itself. As part of the creative process of PRETA, the actor Gio Lourenço told stories of the Fim do Mundo to photographer Sofia Berberan. Gio was never physically present when Sofia was on location in 2020, and she took photos from

his memories while speaking with him on the phone - his words brought shape and visibility to the space, giving substance to the images - which would then become an organic gesture in the performance.

EVALUATION Gio noticed that the lines of Space of Other were a good start to draw out the geometry of the neighbourhood by memory, and he created a choreography based on that, which he performed in Space of Other in 2019. For this publication Gio was planning to return to the location of the neighbourhood Fim do Mundo was to collaborate with Sofia and capture an onsite performance in photography. But Gio became ill with Covid-19 and so there was a change of plan. Instead Gio lead Sofia by skype through the neighbourhood relating the picture he had of live in the neighborhood when he was a kid. This changed the project in an interesting way. Gio leads through the internet and he cannot see what Sofia sees, and she registers how it has changed, reconnecting now and then, here and then. The neighbourhood was built with bricks and wood, and now nature had taken it back. It is like in a dream, there is no linearity, one is in another space and another time. One are superimposed. Time and space; that time and that space in Gio’s childhood determine a lot of things. Even if they happened 30 years ago, they are present in the way that he creates. The things he does as an artist are very connected to that specific time and space. PRETA is about connecting two different spaces, and that is also the same thing that Space of Other tried to do by putting a space in an existing space to create a new narrative. And what is interesting that by working in this way and Sofia being led by Gio a new space was found again. His memory of the space colliding with Sofia’s perception and interpretation in the now, that is completely

27/11/2020 10:00


different from his memory. But also his perception of the space is juxtaposed on her vision by language, by him telling her what it was like, while at the same time not seeing what she sees because he is on the phone. Sofia is able to be a medium because she knows Gio very well artistically and they have worked together for many years. Furthermore, Sofia’s photographs then inform Gio and will inform the development of PRETA as a piece one step further, for the version of PRETA that he will perform in Space of Other at the Venice Biennale in 2021. Over time, the content of the interview gained meaning and the meaning of words changed. Certain words that were spoken in the comfort of the intimate space of Space of Other, in reading the translation from Portuguese to English a year later, have gained meaning or have even become highly politicized words that are connected to space and identity. Therefore, in the preparing the interview for publication, care and consideration for the collective history that exists in words was an important factor. Especially now with the Black Lives Matter protests around the world language changes again, we gain words and at the same time other words are not useful any more because of their context. We all have to decolonialize our language; it is a process we all have to go through, and it is even more complicated because the interview came about through translators, different kinds of Portuguese and nonnative speaking English. Finding the right words and keeping a certain amount of authenticity in the specific language of the conversation was a process. Also the experience of place, as for instance with Ivo, the translator of the text, growing up in a similar neighbourhood as Gio, plays a role in the ability to convey meaning through language. To change the language, the three of us have to agree what it is, and it really is not just about words, it is a whole process. Adding to

VFS_Cahier2.indb 133


the interview, going to the site, all of us going to Black Lives Matter protests in our respective cities all over the world. Rejecting white supremacy in different spaces, places and time, while going through the same experience, where we find that the reality in which we live is something we want to change. That is a powerful thing. This notion of time and place and the merging of locality connects to all our childhoods because they happened inside of this reality. And Space of Other questions this from an architectural point of view. The architectural reality that is also a result of this system of white supremacy and its hierarchy, who gets to live where, who gets to go where. Similar to the situations that the Covid-19 pandemic created, where particular neighbourhoods are hit: poorer neighbourhoods where it is more difficult to social distance. It all relates back to these power structures.

Sofia going back to the site with Gio as her virtual guide, another language is added. Because they are talking to each other online, but there is also photography. And that is one of the ideas behind the contribution of Multiplicity of Other at the Venice Biennale, that we have to become more fluent in these different languages and also start seeing certain practices as language to figure out what is happening and what is working in spatial settings. The space between the words is where understanding emerges.

One of the main values that comes out of this work is language The communication of many different languages has been central to this project. We created a space in Lisbon in which we wanted to communicate a certain idea, and Gio walked in one day and he said immediately: ‘I want to do something here’. The space and the language, spatially as well as graphically, resonated with him and PRETA - it just fitted, because Gio was using his language of movement, of dance and music. In the interview afterwards, Gio was talking about how he also inherited Portuguese as a language, since it is not originally his language, because the language of Angola was erased by the Portuguese during the colonial times. So, he is not expressing himself in his own language, but he is through the language of movement and sound. And is quite naturally connected to the language of Space of Other which was spatial and graphic. But then in the interview when using words, the difficulties arises, because you have to pick the exact right word with the right meaning that can also change at any time. In addition to this with

27/11/2020 10:00


VFS_Cahier2.indb 134


27/11/2020 10:00



RICHARD NIESSEN (1972) graduated from the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in 1996. As a graphic designer, he is known for his colourful posters and expressive typography, innovative identities and his collaborations with other artists. In 2007 he created ‘TM-City’, a travelling retrospective for the Festival International de l’Affiche, Chaumont, France. In 2014 he expanded this overview with the book and installation ‘A Hermetic Compendium of Typographic Masonry’, a portfolio of 26 richly layered designs for Une Saison Graphique in Le Havre, France. Besides working to commission, Richard Niessen initiates his autonomous projects like ‘Based on Bas Oudt’, ‘1:1:1’ and ‘Jack’. He started ‘The Palace of Typographic Masonry’ in 2015, a project which brings together experiment, research, connection with other disciplines and the embedding of graphic design in a broader cultural history. The title of his solo exhibition at Le Signe, Chaumont, France (2019), ‘Building Site’, brings together both the metaphor of building and the analogy with architecture, as well as the creation of a common place, an open playground of exchange: fundamental elements in Richard Niessen’s graphic design practice. Practising as an artist and designer, Niessen has conducted workshops with students and designers around the world, and has lectured and exhibited his work widely.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 135

In this track we wanted to research the fan as a communicative tool. Few historic totems carried as much symbolic weight as the handheld decorative fan. Hand fans were absent in Europe during the Middle Ages until they were reintroduced in the 13th and 14th centuries through Venice, when fans from the Middle East were brought by crusaders and refugees from Constantinople. Traders brought them from China and Japan in the 16th century, and fans became generally popular. During a certain period of time, the fan became an ideal instrument of communication in an age in which freedom of speech for women was absolutely restricted. The main gestures were known as ‘the language of the fan’. The earliest such language was made up of individual letters, and later variations were ‘extensions of body language’, mostly to transmit a love code. Not only are fans beautiful, a great means of communication, used in social etiquette and thus a carrier of expression in many cultures, they are also foremost practical objects to carry on a warm day in times of climate change. The ornate, dramatic and once-ubiquitous item is worth resurrecting now more than ever: wouldn’t it be great to develop an updated messaging system for these battery-free tools to cool down?

27/11/2020 10:00


Hello Mattia, I hope you are doing fine. This is Richard Niessen, from Amsterdam. I’m happy you are willing to cooporate with me in this project. I’m doing the graphic design for the Dutch pavilion of the Architecture Biennial. My design is based on the idea of the fan.

For me the sample fan is a very interesting medium and metaphor that can show diversity, without hierarchy. Besides this, two fans opened refer to the western and eastern hemispheres in the representation of the world.

FLAG SEMAPHORE is the telegraphy system conveying information at a distance by means of visual signals with hand-held flags, rods, discs, paddles, or occasionally bare or gloved hands. Information is encoded by the position of the flags; it is read when the flag is in a fixed position.


A SEMAPHORE TELEGRAPH is a line of stations, typically towers, for the purpose of conveying textual information by means of visual signals. It uses pivoted indicator arms and conveys information according to the direction the indicators point. The most widely used system was invented in 1792 in France by Claude Chappe and was popular in the late 18th to early 19th centuries.


It has been said that in the courts of England, Spanish fans were used in a more or less secret, unspoken code of messages. These fan languages were a way to cope with the restrictive social etiquette. In the late 1790s Charles Francis Badini designed what he named ‘Fanology’. Printed instructions were written on the fans informing ladies how to use them. Robert Rowe’s LADIES TELEGRAPH seemed slightly easier to use. Twenty-six flaps corresponded to the letters of the alphabet and you would point to each letter to make a word. There was also a 27th flap to signify a full stop.

For the Exploratorium, I think it would be nice to continue working with the fan. We are here Venice was hoping to connect me with Doretta Davanzo Poli, a Venetian textile expert who wrote in the catalogue ‘Ventagli italiani’, but unfortunately she is not able to join this track of the Exploratorium.

When lost for words, we point, wave, motion and otherwise use our hands to attempt to indicate meaning. John Bulwer (1606– 1656), an English doctor and philosopher, attempted to record the vocabulary contained in hand gestures and bodily motions and, in 1644, published Chirologia, or the NATURAL LANGUAGE OF THE HAND, an illustrated collection of hand and finger gestures that were intended for an orator to memorise and perform whilst speaking. INTERNATIONAL MARITIME SIGNAL FLAGS refers to various flags used to communicate with ships. The principal system of flags and associated codes is the ‘International Code of Signals’. Various navies have flag systems with additional flags and codes, and other flags are used in special cases, or have historical significance.

Nevertheless I just started to find out more about the fan. Few historic totems carried as much symbolic weight as the handheld decorative fan. As an example, during a certain period of time, the fan became an ideal instrument of communication, and its main gestures were known as ‘the language of the fan’. The earliest such language was made up of individual letters, almost like a semaphore alphabet; later variations were extensions of body language, mostly to transmit a love code. Not only are fans beautiful, a great means of communication, used in social etiquette and thus a carrier of expression in many cultures, they are also foremost practical objects to carry on a warm day in times of climate change. The ornate, dramatic and once-ubiquitous item is worth resurrecting now more than ever: wouldn’t it be great to develop an updated messaging system for these battery-free tools to cool down? What I would like to explore is the fan as a carrier of expression. We are here Venice now connected me

VFS_Cahier2.indb 136

Paulina Ołowska’s ALPHABET was inspired by the book entitled ‘ABECEDA’ by Karel Teige, who created in 1926 the experimental ‘moving alphabet’, in cooperation with Milca Mayerova. ‘Alphabet’ combines rhythmicity with constructivist fascination for typography and points to the rhetorical function of dance: three performers arrange their bodies to form 26 letters, confronting the alphabet of the written language with the ‘alphabet’ of gestures and movements, create a new system of expressing meanings.

27/11/2020 10:00

to you. I found out that you have a lot of experience in Commedia dell’arte, that you are working in Teatrino Groggia? And I see you are holding ‘The Grammar of Fantasy’ in your hands … ‘the need for imagination to have its place in education’… maybe we can incorporate this in the project! All the best, Richard

The word fan derived from the Latin vannus, the Roman instrument for winnowing grain. This winnowing fan, held sacred by all the peoples of the ancient world, must be accounted amongst the earliest of the prolific fan-family. The origin of hand fans can be traced back to 4,000 years ago in Egypt. It was used in ceremonies and seen as a symbol of power. In this great funeral procession from a royal writer in Thebes, servants carry similar CRESCENTSHAPED MATTED FANS, along with the more graceful semicircular spring-hand fan used by ladies to fan themselves.


The origins of INDIAN HAND FANS can be traced back to ancient times, when they were used in temples to fan deities, in the royal courts and in households. There is a mention of fans in the Indian epic poem, Mahabharat (a major Sanskrit epic of ancient India). Temple fans vary in size from tiny, to large fans needing the full strength of a person to move them. Villages and towns have varieties of traditional hand fans. In each place, the fans are made of different materials and have intricate designs.

CEREMONIAL FANS were employed by the Native Americans; there is an account of the visit of a Taensas chief on the banks of the Lower Mississippi to Le Sieur de La Salle in 1682: ‘The Chief condescended to visit La Salle at his camp. A master of ceremonies and six attendants preceded him, to clear the path and prepare the place of meeting. When all was ready, he was seen advancing and was preceded by two men bearing white fans, while a third displayed a disc of burnished copper, to represent the Sun, his ancestor, or, as others will have it, his elder brother.’ It is safe to assume that these fans were of feathers, and the incident is evidence that the use of the fan in high ceremonial was universal, and common to both East and West. It is quite probable that the famous Ratinlixul vase depicts merchants on a journey. The chief personage, in a litter, holds a fan, SYMBOL OF THE MERCHANT CLASS. Pochteca, professional, long-distance travelling merchants in the Aztec Empire, occupied a high status in Aztec society, below the noble class. They were responsible for providing the materials that the Aztec nobility used to display their wealth, which were often obtained from foreign sources.

Claude Chappe and was popular in the late 18th to early 19th centuries.



Feather fans were used for ceremonial purposes by the ruling Incas of South America. Ritual as a performance requires actors and spectators to have a shared foundation of symbols, and is therefore inextricably linked to a given context of social identity, tradition and meaning. Acts like vocalization, dance and sacrifice are all examples of common elements, and many such acts require THEATRICAL PROPS FOR ORNAMENTATION. Fans played a significant part in the rituals as they could represent wealth and status as well refer symbolically to the concept of certain spirits.

Dear Richard, Thanks for your nice email. I am a creative who loves to collaborate with other artists, who loves life and human beings. In recent years my research work starting from the theatre covers the whole city (shops, hotels, prisons, fields, private houses, noble palaces) and is the tool to speak about the changing of the city and its inhabitants over the course of the time, but above all of the time in which we live. The fan can be a thousand things, funny, seductive, repelling. I can imagine many variations of its language. I can imagine making a performance or a video, which all also depends on the type of project you have in mind. All the best Mattia 15-06-2020

Dear Mattia, Thanks for your message, I hope the re-opening of the theatre went well. In the meantime I made a very rough start to see what happens when the fans are connected to the stock characters of the Commedia dell’arte, and to see what happens when I create patterns for them in a way that the set of fans also becomes a bit like a set of signs.

Queen Elizabeth I (1533–1603) is perhaps one of the best-known early adopters of fanpower in Europe. She enjoyed clutching and collecting folding fans and had a collection of 27 at the end of her life. Fans arrived late in her reign as gifts from afar from individuals like Sir Francis Drake, the first Englishman to circumnavigate the world. Queen Elizabeth employed these fans when POWER-DRESSING for some of her many portraits that were designed to project her status and authority.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 137

27/11/2020 10:00


Dear Richard, Beautiful, the idea of urging people to get out of their bubble. I thought of two possible creative outcomes: 1) a live performance with an actor inside the pavilion in loop interpreting the different roles using the fans you created 2) a video tutorial playing the different characters and at the same time inviting the audience to do the same. Theatre in theatre. We can film and transmit the videos that result from this side. It also depends on the budget to carry out this part of the project. Do you already have an idea about this? All the best Mattia Hello Mattia, Thanks for your quick reply! Both outcomes sound good, and for me this is already such a nice expansion of my own scope! What we need to do anyway is to make up a good set of characters (based on the stock characters of the Commedia dell’arte) and maybe some rough guidelines for the development of the stories (or some tips as mentioned in ‘The Grammar of Fantasy’).

The Chinese DANCING FAN was developed in the seventh century, and the management of the fan became a highly regarded feminine art. The Mai Ogi has ten sticks and a thick paper mount showing the family crest. Chinese painters crafted many fan decoration designs. The Chinese fan dance plays a few different roles in China. It is used to help pass down stories and traditions of Chinese culture, and to entertain, and the choreography encourages physical fitness and the ability to memorize routines. The fans are used to accentuate the dancers’ movements and costumes.

Maybe this is what we can do within the Exploratorium now, and later on we can think about how to continue to produce and perform. So my question would be: can you give an example of how to make the stock characters contemporary? Bye, Richard Dear Richard, The great strength of the Commedia dell’arte is in its being faithful to reality today as then: the figure of the miser, the jealous person, the fool, the servant. And beyond this, it is the actor’s ability to make the character contemporary. If we work with Eleonora Fuser, a very good actress of the Commedia dell’arte, we can deepen every character. Please let me know if we will have the budget to pay the actress, the technician and the production. Best Mattia

VFS_Cahier2.indb 138

A JAPANESE WAR FAN or tessen (‘iron fan’) is a weaponized Japanese hand fan designed for use in warfare. Several types of war fans were used by the samurai class of feudal Japan and each had a different look and purpose. One of the most significant uses was as a signalling device. The commander would raise or lower his fan and point in different ways to issue commands to the soldiers which would then be passed on by other forms of visible and audible signalling. War fans could also be used as weapons. The art of fighting with war fans is tessenjutsu. The fan is one of the complements of the FLAMENCO DANCE, especially by women during their interpretations. In the 19th century fans were used by ladies of the court to send secret messages to the knights, and it is precisely the use of that particular language that caused it to become a complement to flamenco dancing, where it now plays an essential role. Thanks to the use of the fan in flamenco, the dancers manage to give a special grace and style to their interpretations.

In Japan, the paintings on folding fans are works of art that their owners can enjoy privately, whenever and wherever they choose. With the folding fan — a canvas on which carefully selected images could readily be applied and shared — it was particularly easy to depict a specific scene from a long tale. By attaching fan paintings to folding screens or collecting them in albums of paintings, people could savour the entire story. The motifs chosen with care to suit the small plane have much in common with waka poetry, which expresses its subject in a limited number of syllables. That connection led, in the late Muromachi period (1336-1573), to the development of what are called OGI NO SOSHI, ‘fan-shaped paintings with waka poems’, a genre with puzzle-solving elements in which waka poems were guessed at based on the paintings on folding fans.

27/11/2020 10:00

During the Napoleonic occupation of Italy, instigators of reform and critics used the carnival masks to hide their identities while fuelling political agendas in the performances, challenging

What I am interested in is how, in society, we all have our identity, our role, but fewer and fewer opportunities to change roles, to be able to step into someone else’s shoes. On the contrary, we live more and more in our own bubble. It would be nice if we could develop a role-playing game with the fans, in a way that we can give people the possibility to – for once – play the captain or the servant. All the best, Richard

The folding fan is recognized as being invented in Japan or China with both countries holding legends of its creation. In Japan the fan is thought to be modelled on the folding wings of a bat, while the Chinese believe the sight of a woman fanning her face mask at a festival led to the tool’s creation. But the most endorsed history of the folding fan is that in pre-modern Japan (552–784), before the invention of paper, aristocrats, bureaucrats, and rulers used portable strips of wood called MOKKAN as notebooks. Rivets were attached at their base binding the strips together into expandable, fanlike, readable and portable collections. At some point these developed into foldable wooden fans.

In my work I somehow always end up mixing songs, symbols and ornaments into a graphic language.

Fans were often used for advertising or as COMMEMORATIVE SOUVENIRS. In Europe and the USA, fans were popular gifts for guests at weddings or important public events. Churches and chapels provided Psalm- or scripture-printed fans for their congregations on especially hot days. Many fans had political cartoons or were made with specific colours to represent one’s political stance. This 1930s gloriously graphic, oversized silk and satin folk art fan is encrypted with 12 quotes from George Washington’s Farewell Address.




Hello Mattia, That is exactly what I like about the Commedia dell’arte, the stereotypes, the archetypes that can be filled in and made contemporary, just like a good evergreen or folk song.

A STOCK CHARACTER is a stereotypical fictional person or type of person in a work of art such as a novel, play or film whom audiences recognize from frequent recurrences in a particular literary tradition. There is a wide range of stock characters, covering men and women of various ages, social classes and demeanours. They are archetypal characters distinguished by their simplification and flatness, thus easy targets for parody, and to be criticized as clichés, but they are also an effective time- and effort-saving shortcut for story creators.

The COMMEDIA DELL’ARTE is the earliest example of professional secular theatre in Europe characterised by improvised dialogue, the use of leather half-masks and ‘stock character’ types. Italian in origin, it soon traversed much of Europe influencing the development of theatre. The plays were drawn from ‘the private sphere of human life’, therefore universal in their details: the realities of making one’s way in the world, negotiating one’s position in the social hierarchy, attempting to fulfil desires and striving for contentment have not changed over the millennia.

What I found on the internet is that there are four groups, as you also mentioned, the old men, the lovers, the captains and the servants – who is who? And in these groups, there are various characters, right? Is that a fixed number?

Masked characters are often referred to as ‘MASKS’. In other words, the characteristics of the character and those of the mask are the same. In spite of the obvious artifice of masks and stylization, the characters of the Commedia dell’arte were drawn from elements of real contemporary types. Many of them were associated with specific cities and regions of Italy, and often expressed themselves in the local vernacular. Indeed, a good example of this is to be found in the mask of Pantalone, the old Venetian merchant.

Is it possible to already start thinking about a plot with contemporary characters? I understand that it is a lot about improvising, but I can imagine you have something in mind, to understand what the possibilities are, and how we can introduce the ‘set of fans’ to bring in the audience? All the best, Richard 16-6-2020 Dear Richard, As you correctly suggest, there are four characters: the old men, servants, lovers and the captain.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 139

Each character in Commedia dell’arte has a distinct costume that helps the audience understand who the character is. IL DOTTORE’s costume was a play on the academic dress of the Bolognese scholars. Il Dottore is almost always clothed entirely in black. He wore a long black gown or jacket that went below the knees. Over the gown, he would have a long black robe that went down to his heels, with black shoes, stockings and breeches.

During the Napoleonic occupation of Italy, instigators of reform and critics used the carnival masks to hide their identities while fuelling political agendas in the performances, challenging social rule and hurling blatant insults and criticisms at the regime. In 1797, in order to destroy the impromptu style of carnival as A PARTISAN PLATFORM, Napoleon outlawed the Commedia dell’arte. It was not reborn in Venice until 1979.

Commedia scenes influenced the baroque and rococo lifestyle where grandiose balls took the disguise of Venetian-style MASQUERADES. There we meet an implement that is closely related to the fan: the mask. The Zanni of the Commedia dell’arte all wore masks as part of their typical dress. Masks and fans often serve similar purposes as one can hide oneself behind them, spy on someone without being seen or simply act more liberally in disguise.

Each of these characters has different athletic and movement skills. For the research, I deal with the citizenship theatre that involves the Venetians and which is inspired by the Commedia dell’arte in a contemporary key. I can find the characters in Venice today. Initially the Commedia dell’arte was without script, improvised on a canvas, the main theme, the settings and a few inputs. For the rest, it’s all improvised action with masks. Halfway through the 18th century, Carlo Goldoni innovates the theatrical characters by overcoming the limits of masks and inserting the psychological profile and behaviour of the character. In this way Goldoni portrays the society of his time in all its aspects and the characters become contemporary. I could do the same: the servants are poor but clever. Colombina could be a waitress on the floors of a five-star hotel in Venice. And Arlecchino could be a dishwasher (who comes from outside, let’s say Bengali) who works in a kitchen of a Venetian noble family. He is in trouble and always hungry. The old man is rich and stingy and I imagine he could be the owner of a Murano glass factory.

27/11/2020 10:00


The lovers are a constant hyperbole of emotions: the girl could be the daughter of the owner of the glass furnace and the guy the young offspring of a noble family who no longer has a penny. Lovers only think of love, they are self-centred and immature, and always need the help of servants; Colombina (the maid) could work in the hotel bought by the rich owner of the furnace. It is the plot that counts in the Commedia dell’arte.

Gianni Rodari was not only the author of many beloved children’s books, but was also an educator and activist who truly understood the power of the imaginative life. In THE GRAMMAR OF FANTASY Rodari presents numerous and wonderful techniques for creating stories. He discusses these specific techniques in the context of the imagination, fairy tales, folk tales, children’s stories, cognitive development and compassionate education. Rodari was one of the founders of the innovative educational approach that began in Reggio Emilia, Italy. ‘The Grammar of Fantasy’ grew out of a series of informal workshops that Rodari conducted there.

The captain could be the father of the lover, the father in the Venetian noble family. He speaks Spanish since he has travelled and fought. These six characters could all be interpreted by Eleonora Fuser and animated in a story like the one told now in a continuous interweaving. This in my opinion could be the architecture of the project for you as far as theatre is concerned. Hug, Mattia

BRUNO TAUT (1880–1938) was a renowned German architect, urban planner and author. He was active during the Weimar period and is known for his theoretical works as well as his building designs. He interpreted colour into deeper meanings in his buildings. Early on, as Taut flirted with an artist’s career, he used colours to create elements of psychological, decorative and spatial design. For Taut, colour played a dual role: it was a ‘symbol of the new happiness’ but also spread a folksy good cheer throughout the house, inside and out. The colour palette in his book ‘Ein Wohnhaus’ (1929) forms an alphabet.

Hello Mattia, People can see the Commedia dell’arte as a typical Western European framework … to me this form of theatre feels quite universal. I can imagine that, let’s say in Africa or India, there are forms of theatre based on the same principle.

I can create a set of fans for each plot, which allows me to be more specific. All the best, Richard

19-06-2020 Dear Richard, Sorry if my tone seems more practical than usual, but honestly, at the moment, a creation work of this level of commitment, as you propose, is very

VFS_Cahier2.indb 140

Although the use of various devices to signify individuals and groups goes back to antiquity, both the form and use of such devices varied widely, and the concept of regular, hereditary designs, constituting the distinguishing feature of HERALDRY, did not develop until the High Middle Ages in Europe. It is very often claimed that the use of helmets with face guards during this period made it difficult to recognize one’s commanders in the field when large armies gathered together for extended periods, necessitating the development of heraldry as a symbolic language. Textile art of the Akan in Ghana has important mythological and ceremonial significance, especially the KENTE, which is woven in narrow strips by master weavers using a complex technique called ‘floating fabric’ to achieve the unique designs. The names of the patterns represent historical anecdotes associated with the oral tradition of the Akan. For example, the pattern of Obaakofoo Mmu Man symbolizes democratic governance, and Emaa Da represents new creativity and knowledge from experience.

We can take the structure and fill it in in a way that it makes sense to be part of the Exploratorium. The ‘plot’ as you set out in your last email could be one, but in the future, we need more, I can imagine at least one in which plants or buildings play a role (linking the project to the ‘themes’ of multispecies and multiplicity). Another plot could give shape to the recent social discussions.

son + servant’), Jirō kaja (second servant), and the master (shujin). Movements and dialogue in kyōgen are typically very exaggerated, making the action of the play easy to understand.


THE PARLIAMENT OF THINGS is a speculative research into the emancipation of animals, plants and things. What if we welcome all things into our Parliament, not centred around humans, but around Life? What would be the plight of the planet? The reasoning of a fish? What claims would trees make, and what future would oil see for itself? ‘The Parliament of Things’ designs a ritual, which transforms attendants into a mountain, a forest, a goldfish – you name it – and enables them to speak by means of the communication-techniques provided.


In June 2016, New York–based artist Chloe Piene held a Familienaufstellung performance in Vienna, Austria. FAMILY CONSTELLATION is a form of therapy developed in the 1990s by the German psychotherapist Bert Hellinger with roots in existential psychology, Gestalt psychology and psychodynamic therapy. Piene invited people to play the roles of her real family members, both alive and dead, including the artist Matthew Barney as her brother, and actress Petra Morse of the National Theatre in Vienna as her mother.

27/11/2020 10:01


141 Wayang (Javanese: ‘shadow’), a classical Javanese puppet drama, that uses the shadows thrown by puppets manipulated by rods against a translucent screen lit from behind. Developed before the 10th century, the form had origins in the thalubomalata, the leather puppets of southern India. WAYANG GOLEK uses a set of 60–70 puppets, which do not always portray specific characters, but are stock types, the puppets thus being interchangeable.

demanding for me. I mean, I need time, energy and budget, because I cannot work alone in different plots and themes that are so far from my figure and from my poetics. In any case, I think that the most important thing for me is to plan a live performance in the future. This is certainly more interesting for my work and also for yours. What do you think about it? I wait for your point of view. Sincerely, Mattia

KYŌGEN (‘mad words’ or ‘wild speech’) is a form of traditional Japanese comic theatre. Kyōgen plays are invariably brief – often about 10 minutes – and often contain only two or three roles, which are often stock characters. Notable ones include for instance Tarō kaja (main servant, literally ‘firstborn son + servant’), Jirō kaja (second servant), and the master (shujin). Movements and dialogue in kyōgen are typically very exaggerated, making the action of the play easy to understand.

During the 17th century, the Turkish shadow theatre spread along the northern shores of Africa. The ‘storytellers with their picture boxes’ and their little glove puppets transformed the very notion of the puppet through the richness of its forms and functions. The distinction is often made between the sacred and the profane when it comes to African puppets. They often play an INTERMEDIARY ROLE between gods, ancestors and humans caught in the hardships of existence. On the other hand, many puppets were used to entertain the public, thus mingling with the profane.

Today the SANDAE MASKED PLAY is performed by villagers in Korea. Masks cover either the whole head or the face and are made from paper or gourds, or are occasionally carved from wood. They are boldly painted to represent the stock characters of the play: monks, shaman, noblemen, young dancing girl and others, staging satiric dialogue plays that hold officialdom up to ridicule.

Indian theatre is one of the most ancient forms of Asian theatre and it features detailed textual, sculptural and dramatic effects. An appreciation for the stagecraft and classic SANSKRIT DRAMA was seen as an essential part of a sophisticated world view by the end of the seventh century. Its drama is regarded as the highest achievement of Sanskrit literature. It used stock characters, such as the hero (nayaka), heroine (nayika) or clown (vidusaka).

Dear Mattia, Thanks for your email … To be honest, I don’t know. I am not the person to decide on a performance at the vernissage and I have no clue about the budgets ... We can keep it in this stage of concept and find out all of this later. I would definitely like to continue and to create the plots with you, design the fans and stage the performances! For now, let me create a foundation for this, based on all the sources I collected. As you might know, I run my own imaginary museum for graphic design, called The Palace of Typographic Masonry, whose aim is to make a plea for the splendour and variety of graphic languages. It is a place where the intrinsic values of graphic design can be stored and cherished, a collective building that is entirely devoted to the craft’s abundance, poetry and digressions. I would like to create a new addition to this building, which I will call ‘The Unfolding Arch of Forging Fantasy’, in the Department of Play, dedicated to the fanning out of connections between social codes, imaginative techniques, stock characters, play, etc. This is because these are the ingredients to create ‘magic circles’, to design the possibilities to be able to safely empathize, to create social souplesse. I just read in Silvio Lorusso’s book ‘Entreprecariat’ (2019): ‘In actual fact, real flexibility is in itself a product of stability: bushes bend in the wind precisely because their roots are sunk firmly in the earth.’ We should invest in a safe and inviting common ground.

PUNCH AND JUDY is a traditional puppet show featuring Mr Punch and his wife Judy. The performance consists of a sequence of short scenes, each depicting an interaction between two characters, most typically Mr Punch and one other character who usually falls victim to Punch’s slapstick. The cast is similar to that of a soap opera or a folk tale: the principal characters must appear, but the lesser characters are included at the discretion of the performer. New characters may be added and older characters dropped as the tradition changes.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 141


As the governor of The Palace of Typographic Masonry I will write a short introduction to this collection and invite everyone to admire and study it. Stage one of this fascinating journey of the Exploratorium ends here, and I will design a silkscreened poster to share the results of this path. I hope we will continue, but for now I will say goodbye, Richard

27/11/2020 10:01


VFS_Cahier2.indb 142


27/11/2020 10:01


Welcome to the Department of Play, in ‘The Unfolding Arch of Forging Fantasy’ to be precise. Play is an activity outside ordinary daily activities, in which one or more humans (and even non-humans) can participate, as entertainment or ritual, with often an uncertain outcome. The graphic designer can form an inviting magical circle that you want to step into to participate, to think along and join the discussion about issues of all kinds. In this section of The Palace of Typographic Masonry, the designer’s ability to titillate and manipulate the viewers’ perceptions and responses seamlessly flows into their engagement in a form of living culture – regardless of how serious this game’s stakes are. In ‘The Grammar of Fantasy’ (1973), Gianni Rodari argues that stories lie precisely in the connections between objects or concepts that belong to completely different worlds, and seemingly have nothing to do with each other. He therefore calls for being adventurous and finding connections in apparently absurd combinations. To use experience, memory, fantasy and the unconscious to cause unexpected, associative chain reactions. ‘Reality can be entered through the main door, or it can be slipped into through a window, which is much more fun.’ Schools have traditionally degraded the imagination, which means that memory and ‘unshakeable’ knowledge can be valued much more highly. After all, children are being prepared to take a place in a fully measurable and inescapably pre-programmed world in which we no longer have to imagine. As Naomi Klein put it in a recent interview, ‘Perhaps one of the most significant effects of the neoliberal era is the current lack of imagination, creating the idea that the status quo is inevitable – the same thing Margaret Thatcher wanted to achieve with her slogan “There is no alternative!”

THE UNFOLDING ARCH 14 from different worlds, because what do codes, fans and theatre have in common? More than you think: the story opens up in the connections between the ceremonial fans and the coded signals, between the masked game and the portable status markers, and between the language of the pattern and the moving alphabets, the fans as canvas and inviting stock characters. They are the instruments of a fantastic orchestra that only needs a signal to start playing together. ‘Play brings,’ said Johan Huizinga in Homo Ludens (1938), ‘into an imperfect world, into the confusion of life, a temporary, limited perfection.’ In the space of this interplay, the associative chain reactions begin from which alternatives to the status quo can arise. This is in sharp contrast to what Huizinga calls ‘cheating’, a (in our time very recognizable) childishness that with ‘the easily satisfied but never saturated need for banal scattering, the longing for gross sensation and the desire for mass display’ actually leads to social rigidity. ‘The Unfolding Arch of Forging Fantasy’ is a plea to shape conditions for playing together, and to give ritual, imagination and play a sustainable place in our society. With the 36 objects and concepts collected here, The Palace of Typographic Masonry hopes to ignite the fire of imagination that has not yet been extinguished: the inviting magic circle is a value for survival.

In Japan, folding fans are seen as auspicious objects that symbolize happiness, as they expand when opened, unfolding the future possibilities. This is also the case in ‘The Unfolding Arch of Forging Fantasy’ where a fascinating collection has been brought together, indeed objects

VFS_Cahier2.indb 143

27/11/2020 10:01



I often compare my research method or my creative process in general to this Taoist magic diagram (Taoist magic is a magical use of calligraphy). The process is not linear but chaotic, looping, labyrinthical and beautiful. In this track I left to investigate the communicative value of the fan, but I encountered many more sources, but I try to find – in line with Godari’s writing – connections between objects or concepts that belong to completely different worlds. In this sometimes inimitable tangle there were some key moments for me. When I was appointed to Mattia Berto, the door opened to less obvious sources too. The almost coincidental discovery of him holding Gianni Rodari’s booklet in his hand on a website when I googled him added again another layer. Actually everything I found during my track accumulated into this entanglement of meaning. I discovered how fans, but also theater forms and coded systems play an intertwined role in almost all societies of the world. As is always the case when I am completely absorbed by a subject, this made me really enthousiastic and I sensed a deep urgency that the current lack of imagination, lucidity and play that leads to social stiffness – following Johan Huizinga’s demonstration of the importance of the play element of culture and society – needs to be countered. I am determined to take this with me in my future work. Besides this, I hope to continue follow this trail based on the findings so far and to distill this, in collaboration with others, into an actual playful tool to create this inviting and unfolding magic circle.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 144

27/11/2020 10:01

The description of this diagram is as follows: “The Blessed Union of Yin and Yang. The characters at the foot of the diagram, ting-men, mean ‘Summit gate’. Ting also means the button a Taoist wears on his cap. This ting symbolizes the ch’i (Vital Energy) which accumulates at the top of the head through Taoist self-cultivation. The chief Taoist technique for increasing Vital Energy is refined through the system of internal circulation.”

27/11/2020 10:01

VFS_Cahier2.indb 145





STUDIO WILD Studio Wild is a collective of three Dutch architects developing provoc­ ative designs to exceed the current boundaries of architecture. Founded in a squatted school complex in Delft, the studio has developed an untamed approach to architecture, design and art. Studio Wild (Tymon Hogenelst, Jani van Kampen and Jesse van der Ploeg) aims to operate on the border, in areas of tension between politics, architecture and nature, embracing complexity by working in a variety of disciplines.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 146

Matteo Vianello (1992) is an archi­ tect and a PhD fellow at University Iuav of Venice. His research field investigates the relevance of ocean surfaces for the urban and architec­ tural project, within the International PhD course ‘Villard de Honnecourt’. While continuing his academic ca­ reer as teaching assistant at Iuav University of Venice, he takes part in the editorial board of In_bo Journal, a scientific architecture journal from the University of Bologna. In 2017 he co-founded Carnets, a research project on the European architec­ ture scenario. Carnets’ research re­ sults have been published in 2019 in the monographic volume ‘Carnets, Archi­­ tecture Is Just a Pretext’ (Anteferma Edizioni, Venezia, 2019).


Vida Rucli (1993) is currently fin­ ishing her Master’s at the Faculty of Architecture in Ljubljana, work­ ing on a thesis about the Yugoslav partisan monumentality in relation to landscape. In 2015 she found­ ed the cultural magazine Robida for which she curates the content and the graphic design. She devel­ ops cultural projects which question the topics of landscape abandon and marginality of border areas with the Robida Association, of which she has been the president since 2017. Occasionally she works in theatre and cinema as actor and scenogra­ pher.

27/11/2020 10:01




Elena Rucli (1995) is working on her Master’s thesis at the Faculty of Architecture Iuav in Venice related to the city of Porto, where she did her international exchange in 2018–2019 at FAUP. In 2016–2017 she attend­ ed the Accademia di Architettura in Mendrisio (Switzerland) and the same year worked also at the office De Vylder Vinck Taillieu in Ghent. Since 2016 she has been part of the editorial board of Robida magazine and since 2017 of the Robida Association. She is currently developing her interests in pottery and illustration. JANJA

For this Exploratorium we will research and investigate the possibilities for a radical new garden on the former site of the 19th-century Orto Botanico di Venezia at San Giobbe. The site has long been abandoned since being used for vari­ ous other functions like a torpedo factory and an electricity company. Our research is triggered by a 2016 European piece of legislation, which consists of 35 alien invasive plant spe­ cies that have been put onto a list of Union Concern, which means that these plant species have been degraded to a mi­ nority that cannot be traded, imported, sold or grown within the borders of the European Union. We want to provoke this European legislation by dealing with the question of wheth­ er spatial, legal and social restrictions always contribute to a more biodiverse society. We want to question the impact of legislation on nature and our built environment by exploring the theme of nature versus culture, and pose questions about what is native and what is invasive. We think that by inves­ tigating the role of the garden within our society, together as designers and researchers, we will find new ways of working with nature and our built environment, which are both under enormous pressure. For this we propose that the Orto Botan­ ico di Venezia could be the perfect stage for reinventing the city garden of the present and the future.

Janja Šušnjar (1993) is an architect based in Ljubljana, Slovenia. She has participated in various projects and training in the fields of art and archi­ tecture in Slovenia and abroad (Italy, Norway, Croatia, China and Uganda), focusing mainly on the process of expe­ rience and the importance place-mak­ ing. She is a member of the Robida Association.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 147

27/11/2020 10:01


VFS_Cahier2.indb 148


27/11/2020 10:01



“Walls are the architectural elements which define the na­ ture of Venetian gardens since forever by enclosing them from the city and by avoiding their perception from the public space. What follows comes from our renouncing of violating the border which was set by the fence walls, by intending the inner space to be a blank canvas. Thus, if the wall is represented with precise details, what is drawn be­ yond the wall becomes a fictional, metaphorical landscape where it is possible to envision a landscape theory manifes­ to for ex Orto Botanico.”

VFS_Cahier2.indb 149

27/11/2020 10:01





As one of the crucial objects of the Venetian political and urban debate, the ex Orto Botanico of San Giobbe is now an abandoned surface alongside the train station of Venezia Santa Lucia, on the northwestern side of the Sestiere Cannaregio. Despite its name, the ex Orto Botanico1 kept its former use only for the first five decades, hence being used for industrial functions for the rest of its history.2 Differently from similar and liminal areas which were refurbished and connected to the city in different phases,3 the ex Orto Botanico thus remained detached from the urban surroundings for almost a

VFS_Cahier2.indb 150

century. Because of this, the ex Orto Botanico is considered (together with other areas in the historic centre such as the ex Area Gasometri and the Arsenale) one of the last leftover spaces produced by the dismantling in the early industrial season of Venice.4 The local architectural debate started to focus on this space in the last decades of the 20th century, speculating on its possible development especially at the time of its industrial dismissal.5 Whilst the majority of architectural proposals interpreted the ex Orto Botanico as an undefined empty urban void, the former garden typology remained mainly unconsidered and forgotten until the early 2000s. Its acquisition by the Venice municipality6 established a long-

27/11/2020 10:01


term conversion from private to public use, by setting a series of projectual prescriptions which aimed finally at recovering the former function of the historical garden, ‘as much as possible closer to the original Orto Botanico’.7 Whilst different negotiations between the city’s institutions and private investors failed,8 the municipality’s present requests raise a series of questions at the halfway point between urban policies, landscape and ecological plans.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 151



The decision to recover the ex Orto Botanico implies a contemporary contextualization of its historical role as a green public space within the city. If on the one hand, Venice’s forma urbis reveals a dense constellation of small and enclosed green surfaces, on the other it is rare to find cases in which these are accessible for public use. It is possible to say that public parks do not belong to the deepest spatial habits and cultures of the islands, by putting in discussion the contemporary tendency to identify public spaces with green surfaces and urban landscapes. Despite the name campo (Italian ‘field’), Venetians

27/11/2020 10:01



meet and spend their time on the urban pavements made of trachyte stones, hardly reaching a green public area. Venetian green surfaces’typologies in Venice belong to two different historical chapters. Whilst urban historical development could be addressed as one of the causes which led to the privatization of city’s gardens, the breed of Venetian public parks coincided with the arrival of modernity, during the Napoleonic domination. Since the complete pavementation of calli and campi came9 along with the complete saturation of the historical islands around Canal Grande,10 the subsequent urban saturation gradually reduced and privatized the majority of green surfaces.11 Walls became architectural elements which defined the nature of Venetian

VFS_Cahier2.indb 152

gardens, enclosing them from the city and until now avoiding their perception from the public space. A radical change of paradigms came with Napoleon’s invasion and the fall of the Venetian Republic in 1797, which led to a massive urban transformation which was inspired by the idea of ‘magnificenza civile’.12 With the aim of communicating through architectural interventions the core of late Enlightenment philosophy, Napoleon promoted the birth of new, institutionalized urban policies: the democratization of the public space, the central presence of the institution and the government in urban transformation and the abolishment of religious monasteries in favour of schools, Lyceums and theatres.13

27/11/2020 10:01


ACT THREE. ORTO BOTANICO As other cultural places settled by Napoleonic urban transformations, botanical gardens were loaded with a relevant political, ecological and urban meaning. Historically speaking, they were spatial consequences of positivist and colonialist thoughts, witnessing to us those years’ conceptions rather than the physical environment.14 Moreover, botanical gardens also had a deep pedagogical aim of exhibiting ideas rather than landscape and nature. Indeed, the research and teaching of botany (mandatory in French Lyceums)15 reflected the postEnlightenment approach towards reality, which was markedly

VFS_Cahier2.indb 153


encyclopedic. Intending them as tools for systematizing and rationalizing the physical environment, the taxonomic approach of herbariums was considered suitable not only in botanical sciences, but also in the management of the city.16 Whilst the historical conceptions behind these relationships are now evidently outdated, the botanical garden’s relevance in the socio-political and didactic context could still remain valid nowadays. Therefore, the architectural interventions which will transform the existing space of ex Orto Botanico should be followed alongside by a radical contextualization of botanical gardens’ historical socio-political meanings. Thus, the botanical garden could conserve its pedagogical task

27/11/2020 10:01



of exhibiting the evolution of our thoughts rather than the environment, from past deterministic conceptions of nature to the ‘moving’ and autonomous behaviour of contemporary landscape theories. Rather than embracing the fixity and rigidity of herbariums, the ex Orto Botanico could now be a place for learning from the precarious and ever-changing attitude of the plants, becoming a conceptually innovative garden in which humans cease to have a dominant role over the physical environment.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 154

EPILOGUE. VIRTUAL EXPLORATIONS This research has been settled from a series of physical constraints which avoided (from the beginning, until now) any possibility of physical encounter with the research object and its related historical information. Several aspects caused this impossibility, from the existing inaccessibility to the project site until the current restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite these unquestionable limitations, we chose rather to consider them as the starting point for the project. Speaking about the historical research of the site, this current historical period has radically affected our methodologies and

27/11/2020 10:01


the possibilities of investigation of the city and its spaces. If the premise behind Exploratorium was to settle a virtual collaboration between different European realities, what happened in the previous month forced the radicalization of the role of the ‘digital’ as the place of research and collective work. Indeed, since the work team was forced to remain split between Amsterdam, Venice, Ljubljana and Topolò, project development took individual trajectories which ran parallel one to each other, with the chance to meet only through Skype calls and emails. Whilst we could not have access to physical archives and libraries in Venice, research on the web led us to discover how much Orto Botanico was crucial in the

VFS_Cahier2.indb 155


political debate for the development of Venice. Unexpectedly, by collecting news articles and technical documents from the municipality, it was possible to retrace the Orto Botanico’s history by unveiling its complex relationship with the city. Then, the current inaccessibility to the Orto Botanico became the pretext for creating a theoretical project which was able to problematize the wider dynamics of the city, concerning the relationship between public and private spaces. Regarding the physical survey of the site, we observed and graphically represented what was exclusively perceivable from a public perspective, avoiding violating the border set by the fence walls. The Orto Botanico’s inner space, the one that we

27/11/2020 10:01



could not survey, became a blank space suitable for narrating and speculating about possible new forms of botanical gardens. Thus, if the wall is represented with precise details, what is drawn beyond the wall is a fictional, metaphorical landscape where it is possible to envision a landscape theory’s manifesto for San Giobbe. Because of this, it could be said that such a radical dichotomy (between what is perceivable and what is forbidden) became a precise statement about existing Venetian urban policies. San Giobbe is nowadays one of the biggest private properties, being almost as big as Piazza San Marco. Its relationship with the surrounding urban environment has always been embraced by its fence walls, which avoided

VFS_Cahier2.indb 156

any spatial dialogue. In the light of recent prescriptions for its spatial transformation, the partial recovering of Orto Botanico’s public functions could nowadays become a space for an innovative public park typology. Whilst a dialogue between private investors and Venice municipality is being established, the aim of this research is to suggest new trajectories for Venetian green public spaces, by providing some theoretical hints able to underline the relevance of botanical gardens in ecological and socio-political thought.

27/11/2020 10:01


VFS_Cahier2.indb 157


27/11/2020 10:01



Notes 1 – In this essay, the author will refer to ex orto Botanico by this expression. 2 – After the Napoleonic foundation of Orto Botanico in 1810, the first spatial transformation happened in 1866, when the company Maschinenbauer Schwartkopff settled up a torpedo factory that remained functioning until the beginning of the 1900s. Later, the ex Orto Botanico was acquired by the Italian Electric Company (ENEL), which kept its property for a century. During this last period a consistent part of the vegetation was inevitably compromised. 3 – Since the second half of the 20th century, universities’ and the municipality’s interest in the area brought the production of several urban projects, with the aim of planning San Giobbe’s integration with the surrounding urban tissue. In 1959, the northwestern side bank was chosen as a project site for the new city hospital. The project commissioned Le Corbusier in 1964, but after the architect’s death and the decrease of interest in the project, the whole process was aborted in 1978. 4 – The early season of Venice’s industrialization affected several sides of the city, specifically on the island’s borders: Giudecca, Castello and Dorsoduro (Santa Marta). Since the building of the railway bridge (1840), Cannaregio began a massive urban transformation. From a rural, partially unbuilt area, it started to host several industrial settlements, attracted by the close distance with the train station and the terraferma. 5 – In 1980, architecture historian Francesco Dal Co curated a call for projects for the area of Cannaregio

VFS_Cahier2.indb 158

Ovest, inviting notable architects from that year’s debate. Among many were John Hejduk, Peter Eisenman, Carlo Aymonino, Aldo Rossi and Gianugo Polesello. Dal Co’s aim was to revitalize the architectural debate related to Cannaregio Ovest leftover spaces through a series of speculative projects, able to recalibrate the relationship between the ‘constraints of reality’ and architectural thoughts. 6 – In 2003 the ENEL Company, following the dismissal of the industrial activity of ex Orto Botanico, suggested to the City of Venice to prepare an Urban Redevelopment Plan, whose new town planning tool allowed the valorization of the entire real estate compendium, changing the destination of use from industrial to residential, commercial and partly directional. 7 – From the NTA Normative prescriptions VPRG/P.P.7 regarding the area of ex Orto Botanico (translation by the author): GENERAL OBJECTIVE: Recovery of the unity of the space to be allocated to the garden, possibly with the characteristics of the 19th-century botanical garden. [...] Demolition without reconstruction of all other buildings and recovery of the botanical garden design in the resulting open space. [...] COMPATIBLE USE DESTINATIONS: For buildings to be recovered: executive offices, educational or cultural equipment. For the open space, the destination as close as possible to the ‘botanical garden’ function, with the possibility of total or partial public use. 8 – At the time of writing, the Venice municipality (02.06.2020) decided to postpone the validity of the urban prescriptions for ex Orto Botanico until 2023. Although the area seems intended to remain mainly

27/11/2020 10:01


public, a private investor appeared willing to fulfil the municipality prescriptions, refurbishing the garden and building a mix of social and private housing. 9 – From Benvenuti R., La pavimentazione nei campi: l’intervento a S. Giacomo dell’Orio (translation by the author): ‘The fields of Venice originally were not paved. Except for the main paths, the rest was left to grass in the other areas. Before trachyte the terracotta was adopted, as can be seen in some fields of the city (for example, Campo della Madonna dell’Orto, Campo dell’Abbazia della Misericordia, private courts). The paving in trachyte came into use in Venice around the XVI–XVII century, for reasons of solidity and urban decoration. At first some main routes were paved, called salizade, then campi and, later, the calli.’ 10 – Until the XVIII century, Venice would have appeared more ‘green’, rural and less urbanized. Several cultivated fields, usually owned by monasteries, were settled mainly in the peripheral sides of the city, which still keep nowadays the original toponymy (San Francesco della Vigna, Madonna dell’Orto). The same city areas also hosted some private gardens used by the Venetian aristocracy. 11 – By witnessing the remarkable anthropic effort to found and stabilize the native muddy islands’ terrain, any portion of ground was subjected to physical and conceptual speculation, thus shaping uses and typologies of the city’s green surfaces. That is probably why rather than a collective space, Venetian gardens are nowadays mainly private, enclosed and thus privileged spaces. 12 – See Doria, E., Venezia “semi-capitale”. La teoria sugli “stabilimenti pubblici” e il caso dell’Orto Botanico (1806–1887), PhD dissertation in History of Arts, Università Cà Foscari-Iuav, 2015.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 159


13 – As mentioned before, the monastery’s typology was to be ideal since it often included a cultivated area. 14 – From Doria, E., Venezia “semi-capitale”. La teoria sugli “stabilimenti pubblici” e il caso dell’Orto Botanico (1806-1887) (translation by the author): ‘During the Napoleonic years, especially in the panorama of studies on France and Italy in the period of the Empire, the botanical gardens appear to refer to the artistic themes of the “picturesque” and the construction of the landscape founded on a “vision organique du monde.” More generally, the projects for gardens, promenades and public parks, underline the lateEnlightenment idea of the reproducibility of the “magnificence of nature” in urban space.’ 15 – The Orto Botanico was founded in 1807 and was originally linked to the foundation of the Foscarini Lyceum, in the Sestiere of Cannaregio. The site, formerly occupied by the monastery of San Giobbe, also included cultivated land attached to the cloister structure. 16 – From A. de Ferrière, De la statistique, et partieulièrment de l’opération ordonnée en l’an IX sous le nom de statistique générale de la France, ms., s.d. (début 1806), in Archives Nationales de Paris, F20 101: ‘[...] Le statisticien doit s’attacher à «décrire un Etat ... comme un botaniste habile décrit une plante, dont il constate tous caractères sans les altérer» [...]. Pour composer son tableau, le territoire de la France est donc au statisticien ce qu’est au naturaliste l’espace de l’herbier, de la collection ou du jardin botanique: «l’espace où se combinent et se déploient les classements» […]’

27/11/2020 10:01




J. De Barbari, Veduta di Venezia, 1500

P. Berger, G. Clément, Parc André-Citroën, Paris, 1985-1992

Wagner & Debes, Geographic Anstalt, 1886 VeneziaToday website, 26/04/2019

Italia nostra (Sezione Venezia), 25/02/2016

Venice municipality, Urban and architectural prescriptions for ex-Orto Botanico site, 2004

Müllthausen, Titolo sconosciuto, 1661

VFS_Cahier2.indb 160

27/11/2020 10:01



Venezia Forma Urbis, zenitale photographic survey, 1985 L.Querci, Nuova Pianta di Venezia, 1887

B. & G. Combatti, Nuova planimetria della R. Città di Venezia, 1846

One of the Project proposals for ex Orto Botanico

La Nuova di Venezia, 22/01/2019

VeneziaToday website, 03/07/2020

Soil’s signification after acquisition by the Venice Municipality, 2003

L. Ughi, Pianta di Venezia, 1729

VFS_Cahier2.indb 161

27/11/2020 10:01



METHODOLOGY Robida and Studio Wild have collaborated before, and thus have the advantage of knowing each other. Working together in a digital environment such as Zoom and comparable services was quite intuitive and streamlined. Our methodology was not fixed at the start of the project. We pursued an incremental approach which allowed us to be flexible during the process. In essence, our methodology was predominantly architectural, given the fact that we are all architects. As we set out with the ambition to research and investigate the possibilities for a radical new garden on the former site of the 19th-century Orto Botanico di San Giobbe, we decided to start with a site research. We experienced a setback because we were obstructed by the exterior wall surrounding the garden and the inability to enter the site. To overcome this obstacle, we utilized photographs of the enclosure and collected historical data of the site in order to reconstruct its past, using this obstruction rather as a starting point than a setback.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 162

A parallel production of architectural sketches and historical research helped us to uncover the (implicit/existing/natural) narrative of the site. The exchange of these ideas allowed us to reflect on the role of the Orto Botanico in the context of urban Venice. During weekly meetings we discussed our findings, and by doing so, we were able to combine our research into a collective position, a position that was initially not expected, yet suited more accurately to the research site. The result of our collaboration is the theoretical landscape manifesto for the Orto Botanico di San Giobbe. In summary, our methodology can be described as thinking through drawing.

27/11/2020 10:01



EVALUATION MATTEO From my personal experience, Exploratorium has unveiled unprecedented working dynamics. The discoveries brought up by the historical research continuously shaped the direction of our project’s objectivity, revealing at the very end the complexity of the historical past related to San Giobbe’s Orto Botanico. We witnessed two main ‘plot twists’, in the middle and at the very end of the project. Through the project, we discovered the hidden historical complexity of unnoticed urban areas like ex Orto Botanico. For the future, we will take into account this unnoticed treasure, kept within the urban leftover of our cities. JANJA The participation in Exploratorium has been more than a research track, it became a platform for understanding the dynamics between colleagues, ideas, facts, preliminary hypothesis … Twists, ups, downs, doubts, persistence and vigour brought us to unforeseen discoveries about the place, and also about ourselves. Maybe the wall is not only the border, maybe our act should not define the place of mystery. I believe that deep research always astonishes us with unexpected ideas.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 163

ELENA Discovering that the ex Botanical Garden of San Giobbe is currently inaccessible placed us in a condition of openness and flexibility that makes the unexpected a strength. Change your mind and accept this change. Understanding that the place could only be investigated from the outside led us to follow its perimeter, as far as possible, note the details, analyse it and endlessly draw it. The act of drawing was in part the practice of investigating this place and its margin, and thanks to this we imagined its interior together. Drawing as a means of thought. JESSE 1. The moment we discussed analytics and discovered the true historic and contemporary value of Venetian public green spaces. 2. New ways of working together intimately over great distances. 3. Forming new alliances and friendships, with like-minded people in distant places.

VIDA Exploring a place from the outside, from its margins, without the possibility of entering it physically, reading only the signs it leaves on its external borders – is a challenge for an architect. That was the situation we faced during our research on the ex Botanical Garden of San Giobbe, of which today only the perimeter wall is visible. Can a wall speak about what it hides? Can it become, even if closed, permeable through our sight and our imagination? Beyond its physical forbiddenness, through the study of the wall, for us the garden became open, accessible and speaking. TYMON This Exploratorium demonstrates the power of working together apart. By working intensively together on a research with a very open character, it was possible to work with change. Although I have never visited the Orto Botanico di San Giobbe physically, I have the feeling that I obtained a deeper understanding of the place.

27/11/2020 10:01



So Young Han We Are Here Venice project coordinator

So Young Han is an architect (MSc Politecnico di Milano, reg. Ordine APPC di Venezia) and project coordinator of the NGO We are here Venice (WahV), and has worked on projects for public spaces in Milan and Florence. Her dedication to civic issues in Venice started with a collaboration with WahV while managing the Korean Pavilion during the Venice Biennale 2017. Her main concerns are public engagement planning and raising awareness on environmental quality.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 164

Jane da Mosto We Are Here Venice co-founder and executive director

Jane da Mosto is an environmental scientist (MA, Oxford University, M Phil Imperial College London) and a consultant on sustainable development, climate change and wetland ecology. Since 2012 she has been fully engaged in trying to change the future of Venice and for Venetians as co-founder of We are here Venice (, an NGO that specializes in using the best academic research and methodologies to characterize the challenges for Venice, while also drawing upon local knowledge and grassroots networks to source accurate information on the city and lagoon, and disseminate findings and results to improve public understanding and international awareness of Venice’s fragile but not hopeless condition.

Debra Solomon Urbaniahoeve artist, researcher

Debra Solomon is an artist researcher developing multispecies urbanism as a PhD candidate at the University of Amsterdam. Solomon introduces multispecies urbanism to describe development framed by natural world concerns. Multispecies urbanism promotes policy innovation for natural world stewardship, recognising humans as participants within a more-than-human habitat. In 2010 Solomon founded artist–activist collective Urbaniahoeve, producing public space urban food forests and stewardship training. For more than a decade, Urbaniahoeve’s expertise comprises soil building, food and ecosystem production, climate adaptation and food justice, biodiversity and habitat regeneration and community building.

Renate Nollen Urbaniahoeve artist, researcher

Renate Nollen has years of experience in landscaping applying Permaculture and the ‘no-till technique’. She has done this in the US and also in Amsterdam. Nollen is experienced in neighbourhood initiative involvement and believes in citizen power. With her soil knowledge, she also literally starts at the bottom. Since 2017 she has worked with the Urbaniahoeve Foundation on the development of a Community of Practice in the K-borough that is collaboratively designing and constructing an urban food forest.

27/11/2020 10:01


RADICAL 16 OBSERVATION IN THE GREEN TRIANGLE From May 2020, two community groups in the process of performing longterm ecological interventions in their own public space began performing and documenting their design and development praxis using a methodology called Radical Observation. The group based in Venice started activating a location they call the Green Triangle. So Young Han from We are here Venice offers practical support and manages the Radical Observation praxis in Venice, in order to develop the Green Triangle initiative with local residents and community groups and to ensure its lasting impact. The group based in Amsterdam has been working together on their public space location entitled the Amsterdam Zuidoost Food Forest (VBAZO) since 2018. Debra Solomon and Renate Nollen lead this project with more than 60 engaged locals and several municipal departments. In 2020–2021 both groups intend to share their developments, designs and radical observations. Radical Observation is a methodology by Debra Solomon/Urbaniahoeve that teaches natural world awareness and ecosystem stewardship. Its use is intended for individuals and groups preparing to ask design questions about upcoming landscape interventions. Through regular practice of Radical Observation, individuals come to understand the patterns and rhythms of the ecosystem, experiencing themselves as part of it, gradually increasing their potential to be knowledgeable stewards of the area. Practitioners of Radical Observation exercises assume observation postures for periods of time ranging from 10 minutes to an hour, to a month, and that incorporate specific perspectives towards the ongoing natural world processes and entropy. The technique focuses attention on processes occurring over time; that is, plants growing throughout the seasons, plant communities wandering through space, and habitats accommodating ever more plant and animal life.



Calle Gi



az Calle Gi

Entrance - Exit


The Green Triangle Venice

VFS_Cahier2.indb 165

The Amsterdam Zuidoost Food Forest

27/11/2020 10:01



The Green Triangle Venice The Green Triangle is the name given by We are here Venice (WahV) to the space between the homes assigned to coastguard families and the legendary walls of the Arsenale di Venezia.

It is one of the few ungated green spaces in the city, an area that many people do not know about or have ever visited. For many years it was left abandoned, with brambles growing between the trees. In 2019 the area was cleared and a new fence installed behind the houses, along with a path and some lighting.

Considering the notion of rights to the city, the openness of the Green Triangle contrasts strongly with the contested accessibility of the Arsenale, an area with potential for the development of new productive activities and alternatives to the prevailing monoculture of tourism, and the revival of Venice’s maritime excellence.

Satellite photo – area of the Green Triangle © Google Map

VFS_Cahier2.indb 166

27/11/2020 10:01





Calle G



Calle G

Entrance - Exit

ARSENALE NORD Plot plan – area of the Green Triangle ©WahV

VFS_Cahier2.indb 167

27/11/2020 10:01



The Amsterdam Zuidoost Food Forest The Amsterdam Zuidoost Food Forest (also known as VBAZO, an acronym of the Dutch project title Voedselbos Amsterdam Zuidoost) is a 55-hectare ecological zone in the south-east of Amsterdam. The area is adjacent to the municipality’s ecological framework – a zone of biodiversity and conservation.

Since 2018 more than 60 locals have become involved as members of VBAZO’s community of praxis working in collaboration with each other to transform the ‘nature’ of the area.

The VBAZO project situates itself in pre-existing urban greens, which the group designs, develops and maintains in close collaboration with several municipal departments.

Site plan – VBAZO ©Urbaniahoeve

VFS_Cahier2.indb 168

27/11/2020 10:01



Photo of group discussion – VBAZO ©Urbaniahoeve

VFS_Cahier2.indb 169

27/11/2020 10:02



The Green Triangle Intentions The Green Triangle participants – all interested Venetian locals – came together in order to begin the process of sharing their intentions for the location.

First, the group applied Radical Observation exercises to practise exploring the site with as many of their senses as they could. Working alone and in silence, then later walking through the site together, they produced an inventory of intention.

The group shared their findings, listening carefully to each other’s intentions for the space. In doing so, they started to behave like a group, developing a common language to express their desires about the area and an openness to each other’s ideas.

Photo of participants’ drawings and ideas ©WahV

VFS_Cahier2.indb 170

27/11/2020 10:02


These cards were fabricated with handmade coarse paper with a special ingredient from the Venetian Lagoon. They are a way for each Green Triangle participant to archive their ideas during the group’s journey.


At the first meeting, participants shared their first impressions by making maps by hand.

The group intends to keep on collecting ideas and information about the location in this first four-season radical observation of the Green Triangle.

Photo of the Radical Observation Venice cards with participants’ names ©WahV

VFS_Cahier2.indb 171

27/11/2020 10:02



Radical Observation Exercises At each weekly meeting, Green Triangle participants performed Radical Observation exercises on location, in which they were asked to imagine the most beautiful and the ugliest parts of the site.



VFS_Cahier2.indb 172

27/11/2020 10:02




VFS_Cahier2.indb 173

27/11/2020 10:02



Radical Observation VI Lie Down Green Triangle participants lie down in order to focus their attention on the sounds, smells, happenings and even the ideas that occur uniquely and only when they get their head and body close to the ground.

Sometimes they look down at the ground. Sometimes they look upwards, through the branches of the trees, to the skies.


Photo during the Lie Down exercise – a dog approaches participants ©WahV

VFS_Cahier2.indb 174

27/11/2020 10:02



Radical Observation XXV Farina Inventory In this exercise the group archives their first memories and impressions of the site – preparing a space in their minds to think about a reasonable spatial intervention in the future. At the end of the first meeting of the Green Triangle, participants access all the day’s previous experiences on site and demarcate locations of special interest to them with a spot of ordinary white flour.

The physical action of marking the site with flour is a declaration of an intention. Now the brains and bodies are prepared to enact this stated intention. At the next meeting, the locations and intentions are communicated amongst the group members.

Photo of location demarcated with white flour ©WahV

VFS_Cahier2.indb 175

27/11/2020 10:02



Radical Observation Amsterdam Zuidoost After repeated destruction of the VBAZO ecological zone urban green spaces by crews performing municipal acts of maintenance, the VBAZO community of practice gathered on the evening of 1 July to take stock of the health of the area’s ground cover.

Aside from only counting the various species, they imagined what the ensemble of plants might look like throughout the seasons, which animals and insects would be served – fed and given habitat, how much longer rainwater would remain in the area – preventing the urban heat island effect and contributing to the general physical health of the area.


Photo of practitioners during the Observation ©Urbaniahoeve

VFS_Cahier2.indb 176

27/11/2020 10:02



* This exercise was written for the Amsterdam Zuidoost Food Forest Community of Practice (VBAZO-COP) in July 2020. After repeated destruction to the locations by municipa maintenance services, the VBAZO-COP takes stock of the ground cover.




Photo of a practitioner during the Observation ©Urbaniahoeve

VFS_Cahier2.indb 177

27/11/2020 10:02




Diagram of the project methodology by Jane da Mosto ©WahV

VFS_Cahier2.indb 178

27/11/2020 10:02



Evaluation Q1: Please describe one or two significant moments in this collaboration. DS (1) When I first heard about We are here Venice, I was excited to be involved with an organization that has been so active in addressing the pressing issues of Venetians, and when Jane da Mosto and So Young Han (of We are here Venice) presented the possibility of working on a ‘permanent’ intervention with local people in an under-utilized public space, it seemed like a perfect starting point. (2) During one of the first Radical Observation events at the Green Triangle that So Young and Jane had organized, I was invited to ‘drop in’ virtually. I thought it was just me, but even through the app, even with the COVID-19 physical distancing at the location, the positive energy of the group was palpable to me. SYH The moment of a video call with Debra during the first Radical Observation (RO) in Venice. Just after the ‘third phase’ of COVID-19 began in Italy, we held our first meeting. The following topics were condensed into a one-hour event aimed at introducing the initiative and bringing together those people committed to engaging with the Green Triangle: • the original methodology of RO and practical experiences (DS) • the environment and social context (JdM) • the geological and historical facts (BP) More than 30 citizens came and carried out two simple exercises (carefully prepared in advance by me and DS). At the end of the session, I spoke with Debra by phone as we had planned, to introduce the author of this project and future participants of the methodology. A warm and friendly atmosphere filled the Green Triangle. The participants were a broad mixture of people, virtually none of whom already knew each other. Some lived next to the space, others came from far away. Some had grown up playing in this area, others worked nearby and some were visiting it for the first time ever. It was one of the participants’ first opportunities for social interaction following the long weeks of lockdown, and I believe Debra also felt the atmosphere which cannot be described.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 179

JDM (1) When I first heard about Debra Solomon’s work, I realised that it could be the catalyst we needed to reactivate ourselves and involve the community in the Green Triangle. (2) When so many people arrived for the first session of Radical Observation, everyone was smiling, so pleased to be out in the fresh air in each other’s company, and the Green Triangle was radiant too. Even though we hadn’t managed to stop the municipal gardening contractor from mowing the entire area, lots of little spring flowers had survived.

Q2: What did you discover in this project? DS I learned that it is possible to relinquish ‘presence’ and still carry out and develop group dynamics and observation exercises. In this case dictated by the COVID-19 period, I was working ‘very remotely’ from Amsterdam, but the capable leadership of So Young and Jane made the creative process of developing tailor-made Radical Observation exercises for the group and location possible for this ongoing project. It is like the relationship you have with a garden. If you’re too present, you risk over-doing things. Also I learned that ‘ecological interventions’ don’t need to start out as explicitly willed by a group. JDM I have learned a new way of carrying out a process with precision while leaving the direction of the process totally open. SYH Many stories belong in this area, stories that can’t be found in libraries … I discovered many stories through participants sharing memories of and attitudes to the space: different perspectives, different feelings and different ideas all connected to each other by shared interest in – and concern for – the future of the Green Triangle in Venice. I agree with the idea that ‘green spaces are the lungs of a city’. Their infinite capacity saves many living things, directly and indirectly. The quality of these areas represents the quality of the city and the lives of city-dwellers. For many reasons, modern citizens decided to delegate their duty to public administration to keep common areas accessible. But what happens when the delegates’ capability doesn’t meet the people’s demands nowadays?

I discovered early on in the RO project that many citizens are motivated to care for their city with their own hands. It reminded me that there are people who fill these gaps in society in their own way and time. NGOs and volunteers are examples.

Q3: How will you use this knowledge in your future work? JDM We will all carry on working together on the Green Triangle until a community group has been established that will take over the envisioning and management of a more hospitable and more beautiful green space in Venice, from the point of view of all living organisms (except mosquitoes). SYH I will keep records, analyse results and contribute to this experience to involving others. Finding my own methodology is a goal, as well as developing a Venetian methodology of Radical Observation. Time and effort will become intangible investments to support a better environment where I breathe every day. Probably my motivation comes from a desire to plan for the long term. Public awareness and appropriate actions will guarantee comprehensive decisions. Proper systematic interventions must be carried out by institutions and governments when citizens are aware and engaged. DS This last point, that ‘ecological interventions’ don’t need to start out as explicitly willed by a group, I somehow always need to relearn, as every project has so many different factors. I echo Jane in saying that we will all carry on working together on the Green Triangle until a community group has been established that will take over the envisioning and management of a more hospitable and more beautiful green space in Venice, from the point of view of all living organisms (except mosquitoes). Projects such as the Green Triangle are ‘not pilots’ and ‘not show projects’. Supporting ongoing projects such as the Green Triangle requires a form of commitment from funding bodies and commissioners that is focussed on the needs of the projects. We, as producers of labour-intensive, timebased projects that work with communities of people and urban ecosystems need to consider but also conjure opportunities that are sensitive to our work methods and process.

27/11/2020 10:02



FOOTPRINT ESTIMATE across the four main sites

TEAMS 90 “ personhours ” research meetings (20 hours of shared discussion, with on average 4.5 people present) 322 emails 20 sheets of paper for test prints

We are here Venice

Reflective Interaction Group of EnsadLab, the research laboratory of École des Arts Décoratifs, Université PSL (Paris Sciences et Lettres)

Brice Ammar-Khodja [BAK] (artist, graphic designer & PhD student-researcher), Samuel Bianchini [SB] (PhD, artist & associate professor), Francesca Cozzolino [FC] (PhD, anthropologist & researcher), Sophie Krier [SK] (relational artist & researcher), Hugo Scurto [HS] (PhD, machine learning researcher, sound designer), Francesco Sebregondi [FS] (PhD, architect, researcher)

weißensee kunsthochschule berlin

Patricia Ribault [PR] (Professor for Performative Design Research) with MA Product Design students: Paulina Grebenstein [PG], Robin Hoske [RH], Yanshan Ou [YO], Youran Song [YS]

47 text messages 15,6 kW to charge 13 laptops and 13 smartphones per site

on average 3-4 hours / week = 40 “ personhours ” (email, jitsi) on average 5x8 = 40 field hours x 8 sites = 320 “ field hours ”

FURTHER READING More extensive documentation can be found at instruments-methods

Jane da Mosto [ JdM] (director We are here Venice, environmental scientist)

Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam

Klaas Kuitenbrouwer [KK] (senior researcher, R&D)


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The research by We are here Venice took place with support of

The research by EnsadLab’s Reflective Interaction Group took place with support of

The research by weißensee kunsthochschule berlin took place with support

The Zoöp research project is supported by

VFS_Cahier2.indb 180

The Downforce Trust and the Exploratorium for the 21st Century Values for Survival in the context of the Dutch contribution to the 17th Architecture Biennale in Venice. the « Chaire arts & sciences » of École Polytechnique, École des Arts Décoratifs - PSL and the Daniel and Nina Carasso Foundation

Graphic design Co-editors

Brice Ammar-Khodja Sophie Krier, Klaas Kuitenbrouwer

IMAGE CREDITS All photos and diagrams by respective researchers, as indicated by their initials.

of the Cluster of Excellence Matters of Activity. Image, Space, Material, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin Het Nieuwe Instituut Guus Beumer and Josien Paulides (General Directors), Marina Otero Verzier (Director of the Research Department), Klaas Kuitenbrouwer, Marten Kuijpers, Katía Truijen (Senior Researchers), Ludo Groen, Anastasia Kubrak, Setareh Noorani (Researchers)

27/11/2020 10:02




In this site-specific research, teams from four different cities in Europe critically explored and refined a method that makes legible as well as actionable the development in resilience of multispecies communities, which were approached as Zoöps.



The Zoöp is a new cooperative form of organisation for representing and cooperating with nonhuman ecological communities, developed at the Neuhaus academy for morethan-human knowledge at Het Nieuwe Instituut. The term Zoöp is a combination of co-op (short for “ cooperative ”) and zoë, the Greek word for “ life ”.

The method consists of four steps that are practised in recurring cycles.

The Zoöp aims to strengthen the legal position of nonhuman life in human societies, and to stimulate ecological regeneration that is not subjected to extractivist economic logic. The Zoöp legal entity is designed to be able to be adopted by a great variety of organisations, on the condition that they have agency over a volume of biosphere. The concept was initially inspired by innovations in the jurisdiction of New Zealand, where in 2016 and in 2017 legal personhood was granted to Mount Taranaki, Whanganui River and Te Urewera Forest. The Zoöp, however, does not work with the long term process of granting rights, but is in fact a procedure for representation and collaboration within organisations, that can be implemented more directly.

The first step is to demarcate the proto-Zoöps that we are looking at. Where are the legal, physical and ecological boundaries? Who are the humans that partake in this multispecies community? The next step is to observe & sense the different kinds of multispecies relations at play in the Zoöp and the capacities of communication that exist between and within groups of humans and nonhumans. The third step is to identify and make legible (for humans) the relevant disturbances that this Zoöp is required to adapt to. This comes down to characterising dynamics. How do disturbances manifest differently in various lifeworlds within the Zoöp? (A disturbance is an event that requires the Zoöp to reconfigure, to become capable of a new behaviour in order to maintain its quality of life.) The last step is to find ways to intervene so that relations or capacities of communication can be developed, which make the Zoöp at hand more resilient in the face of its most important types of disturbances. An intervention leads to new observations and characterisations, which may suggest yet other interventions.

Each team chose different sites to be observed as proto-Zoöps and engaged with these sites through this method. A selection of their findings is documented in the following pages. Team members are listed on the last page.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 181

More extensive documentation can be found at

27/11/2020 10:02



SITES Venice — IT fig. 1 45.292737, 12.240273 Barena (Salt marsh)

The Proto -Zoöp is a small area of salt marsh (7 m x 25 m), known as barena, that formed spontaneously and gradually over the past 20 years, on the edge of a private island between Torcello and Burano - two island settlements in the Venetian Lagoon. The trigger for its appearance was the piling up of pruned branches and brambles when the island’s owners made a clearing in their garden. This acted as a sediment trap. Sediment is another name for mud, the fine particle-sized building material of the lagoon. Over time, the organic materials decomposed and mixed with more and more sediment that was carried by tides, winds and waves, to form a substrate for pioneer as well as more stable salt marsh plants and associated microbial and animal life, such as wading birds and crabs. On one side there are mudflats, periodically submerged by water, with the tides, and beyond that open waters and more salt marsh until the mainland where the Venice Airport is situated. On the other side of the demarcated area of barena, where the ground level is higher, there is a line of Tamarisk trees and beyond that a garden and small lodge. [JdM]

Berlin — GER In Berlin,

four different zones have been

by four students in product design in the context of the seminar “ Interspecificities ” led by Patricia Ribault at weißensee kunsthochschule berlin. Each of them has a personal connection to the place, be it a private or semi-private garden, a terrace or a small green island in the middle of the street. They learned to take a closer and better look at these spaces and species, to question their role in the shared milieu and to invent new ways to care for these very small multispecies communities. [PR] identified

VFS_Cahier2.indb 182

fig. 1  52.6132201, 13.4896798 Yanshan Ou’s Dandelion Garden

fig. 2 52.523373, 13.329727 Forest Island by Robin Hoske’s house

fig. 3 52.5409088, 13.3619138 Paulina Grebenstein’s Multispecies Rooftop Terrace

fig. 4 52.5606409, 13.4410721 Youran Song’s Neighbouring Shrubs

27/11/2020 10:02



Saint-Denis — FR Zone Sensible is an urban farm project of 4 ha led by Parti Poétique, an artist collective founded by Olivier Darné. As early as 2003, Darné combined cultural and artistic programming with beekeeping activities on the vacant lot, which he was able to take over with the support of the town of Saint-Denis after a century-old market gardening company ceased their (monoculture) activities on the site. In 2016, Zone Sensible was entrusted a 25-year lease, allowing it to take off and be developed along longer temporalities.

fig. 1 48.9473073, 2.3742199 1 ha of Zone Sensible is cultivated following the permaculture principles by head gardener Franck Ponthier.

The site is situated at the intersection of Saint-Denis, Pierrefitte-sur-Seine, and Stains, neighbourhoods with high levels of social precariousness in the north of Paris. The French policymaking term Zone Urbaine Sensible designates sensitive urban areas. Oliver Darné hijacked the term in order to imagine a space where different sensibilities, human and nonhuman, co-habit: more than 137 vegetal species (mirroring the number of different nationalities living close by); bees, ducks, chicken, wild crows and invasive beetles; regenerated soil; and also students, artists in residence, locals and outside visitors. The notion of pollination is central to Darné’s artistic work, and to the operation of Zone Sensible. This systemic view resonates with EnsadLab’s practice-based research and instrumental approach. [BAK, FS, HS]

Amsterdam — NL fig. 1 52.37403, 4.88969 Duindoornplein’s fig tree

09.05.2020 – Proto -Zoöp Duindoornplein has a total surface of 90 m2. It contains a back garden of 40 m2 and living room in active exchange with this garden. Four humans live here, two of whom are distinctly more actively engaged in a larger number of multispecies relations than the other two. There lives a cat who is a too-successful bird hunter and who is friendly with two other cats that live along the back alley and who visit this proto-Zoöp regularly. They are less effective hunters. The major plants are a five-year-old apple tree, beech hedge, fig tree [fig. 1], bay tree, a small elder, a rose bush, ivy and raspberry. Furthermore: strawberries, lavender, buttercups, dandelions, thistles, nettles, clover, forgetme-nots, bindweed, goutweed, at least four kinds of grass, thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano, mint, parsley, chives and tarragon. There is a 1 m3 compost heap with an enormous number of worms and woodlice. There is a small ants' nest next to the fig tree. Roughly one quarter of the garden is left to grow on its own accord. The rest of the surface is tended with various degrees of intensity. In the living room are growing trays where tomato plants, bell pepper plants and courgette plants are grown from seeds until they are ready to live outside. Sparrows, tits, robins, pigeons and parakeets visit the outside area regularly, as do various species of bees and bumblebees and the occasional butterfly. [KK]

VFS_Cahier2.indb 183

27/11/2020 10:02






The essential characteristic of the barena is the fluid dynamic of water, sediment and ecological interactions, meaning that it should not be referenced only via specific physical coordinates but rather the features of the system to which it belongs - in a given area, in the context of continuous interaction with the lagoon, in terms of depositing or carrying away sediments, and according to the quota (ground level relative to average water level). The types of ecological relationships and species of plants and animals to be found depend on the frequency with which the different areas of the barena are submerged. The integrity of the area as a Zoöp or robustness of the “ demarcation ” - depends on these kinds of interactions. [JdM]

Dandelion Garden

Depending on the location and the type of space (public or private), each proto-Zoöp is demarcated differently. The borders are mostly determined by the typology of each space (garden, terrace, central island) and a more arbitrary limit between the inside and the outside. Each zone becomes a milieu in itself, with its own signs and traces left by the different species, which either stay on site and disseminate (plants), or come in and out (animals), interacting with each other and extending those limits by their very presence, their routes and routines. Ou’s “ dandelion garden ” is delimited by a square bush which separates one private garden from another. She chose to focus her attention on the dandelions, which occupy half the space and to track the different species which interact voluntarily or not with them, carrying and spreading their seeds, and analysing the conditions for what she calls “ positive ” or “ negative ” space, like a photo-sensitive surface on which the flowers either grow or don’t grow. [PR, YO]

VFS_Cahier2.indb 184

27/11/2020 10:02



DEMARCATING Hardly visible from the major road that runs along it, the site is hidden behind a wild car park, a small wall, and reused shipping containers. Signage is minimal from the street. [FS] The contamination of the soil due to past uses is a temporal form of demarcation. Year after year, Zone Sensible tries with “ clean ” layers (stemming from the permaculture plots) to thicken the exploitable layer for sustainable market gardening. [BAK, HS]

Zone Sensible

At the entrance, I am greeted by a young woman: “ Welcome, the entrance is free, you can walk around as you wish, on the right you will find the Parti Poétique, and on the left Zone Sensible with the farm ”. It seems that a difference is made between the legal status of these two entities. [FC]

26.06.2020  – Demarcating means articulating a set of multispecies relations as internal relations. All relations across the demarcation are then external relations. The observation first focuses on the internal relations, and gradually moves outward. Duindoornplein

Through the lens of multispecies relations, this practice of demarcation foregrounds the importance of (spatially bound) soil life, soil relations and plant life as quality conditions for less spatially bound species. Spatial demarcation should not be taken as a final statement on which relations are most critical for maintaining or developing the quality of life. [KK]

VFS_Cahier2.indb 185

27/11/2020 10:02


186 v

2ND STEP It is possible to infer the stability and trends of the area’s nonhuman characteristics by observing the appearance and distribution of the plants (over time) on the basis of our understanding of ecological interrelationships. All lagoons, in the absence of human intervention, will eventually silt up completely and become marshes, that then become dry land annexed to the surrounding area if sediment inputs dominate the system. Alternatively, water circulation and currents associated with the tide and deep channels (naturally occurring or man-made for navigation) will predominate, causing erosion of the wetlands, and ultimately the area becomes a marine bay.

fig. 1- fig. 2 Typical flora of the barena at high and low tide

Observing and sensing each zone led to a great variety of modalities and discoveries. By experimenting with radical observation methods as described by Debra Solomon and by multiplying the perceptive points of view (audio, visual, tactile, olfactive), each observer managed to sense several dimensions of their chosen space, to be more aware of their presence, logics and behaviours. An important part of the observation was also “ delegated ” to artificial devices such as normal or infrared cameras and various sensors, leading to a diversified comprehension not only of the space but also of its “modes of existence”. Photos, films, sketches and measures broaden the spectrum of signs and indexes left by the different species on site. fig. 1 How my dog sees me fig. 2 Dino with camera

VFS_Cahier2.indb 186

The case of Venice is distinguished by centuries of human intervention to regulate the balance between sediment accumulation and loss, and the permanence of the Venice lagoon system. Hence the proto-Zoöp salt marsh, situated in a protected area, far from any deep canals or significant boat traffic, can be expected to continue expanding laterally via sediment accumulation. [JdM]

Paulina’s multispecies terrace is highly dependent on her care, in constructing, planting and watering. In her observation she tried to change the perspective to that of her dog, by studying his senses and filming from his angle. What triggers his senses, like smells in the wind, the plants and the soil? How does he interact with other species, like crows that he chases, and insects he tastes? Changing the viewpoint gave her a new understanding and conscience about what it means for other species to share a common space. [PR, PG]

27/11/2020 10:02



OBSERVING & SENSING Beekeeping activities and honey production on site precedes by 10 years the establishment of Zone Sensible. The “ Miel Béton ” (literally, “ concrete honey ”) contains up to 250 different pollens; as such, it is an extremely sensitive analogue sensor of the biodiversity of the territory; it is the result of an ultra-localised interspecies cooperation (the hives). Honey could work as a narrative vehicle for the dynamics of the site. [FS, SK]

fig. 1 The red markers track bee movement in and out of the hive. The hive can be seen as an operational model for what happens at every scale: it prefigures Zone Sensible as a spatial membrane that allows multispecies comings and goings.

fig. 2 The map tentatively defines the territory from the perspective of the bees. The 3 km circle of « essaimage » (trans. bee swarming zone) encompasses a departmental parc; the Cité des 4000, one of the most wellknown and dense housing projects in France; Stade de France – a sports stadium and international gathering space.

Bees’ swarming area (3 km radius) ZONE SENSIBLE

Metro - Line 13


Departmental Parc Georges Valbon

“ Les 4000 ” social housing complex Stade de France

25.05.2020 – Almost immediately I feel a shift in my role as gardener. I basically want the garden to be hospitable towards species that take root. A desire to care comes in strongly. Mostly I just leave the plants as they grow. I did apply a splint (successfully) to the broken and last-but-one leaf of a courgette plant. Every now and then I step in to prevent one species dominating too much. This gardener responds to what happens, seeking balance, but is not dictating the course of events. 26.05.2020 – I begin to experience this place as a small multispecies community. As a unit, more than as the former inside the house next to the outside. Theoretically I knew this, but now I begin to feel it. Reading Charles Foster helps. The cat looks at me strangely, like it knows things about me. 01.06.2020 – Apple tree again looks like it is suffering. Maybe its roots grew into a deeper layer of soil with old contamination? No blossoms, so no apples this year. A spit bug is cohabitating with the rosemary. [fig. 1]. 15.06.2020 – Courgette flowers are coming out. Fig tree still looks very happy and at home. Some of the young bay leaves have curled up yellow around the edges. Maybe the tender leaves suffered from the intense heat last weekend? [KK]

VFS_Cahier2.indb 187

27/11/2020 10:02



3RD STEP The characteristic variation in the morphology of the salt marsh and the specificity of the plants in terms of quota relative to average water level is represented in the diagram, with the various levels that constitute this type of environment and associated dominant vegetation. If erosion due to increasingly frequent submersion by tides and higher water levels occurs faster relative to sediment accumulation, the barena shrinks in area and the morphological characteristics change. In turn, this is reflected in the type of vegetation. [JdM]

What may lead a Zoöp to change its behaviour can be qualified as disturbances, fragilities or dependencies, and may vary according to the role humans play in it and according to the nature of the space itself: they can be invasive species taking over others, a lack or excess of natural resources or of artificial elements such as CO2 or plastic. They can also be a human organisational problem, such as poor communication within a given group of people sharing the same space.

fig. 1 Tamarisks and mudflats fig. 2 Profile of the salt marsh 1. Canal margin 2. Bordering shallows 3. Bordering mudflats (-20 cm to +5 cm, normally without vegetation) 4. Belt of Spartina and/ or Salicornia (+5 cm to +15 cm) 5. Internal planes (+2025 cm, dominated by Limonium and Puccinellia) 6. Elevated salt marsh (up to +45 cm, dominated by Sarcocornia and Inula; at higher levels/lower salinity Aster, Halimione, Artemisia, Juncus; on ground with high organic content Sueda and Salsola) 7. Internal tidal pool 8. Internal canal (« creek ») 9. Internal mudflat with Spartina 10. Non-vegetated internal mudflat

fig. 1 Building’s garden before and after the zoönomic method

In Youran’s rental contract, it specifically mentions that tenants are not allowed to act upon the building’s garden, which is owned by the housing company, as well as the land it sits on. Youran’s plan is to integrate the zoönomic method into the existing regulations with the help of the Charter for Berlin City Green (the official guideline for Berlin’s urban green development), which encourages the reopening of unused green areas and advocates for more human-green interactions. [PR, YS]

VFS_Cahier2.indb 188

27/11/2020 10:02



CHARACTERISING Soil-related vulnerabilities: Pollution resulting from the previous exploitation of the site, playing out in time. Analytical work with Agro Paristech involving regular collection of agrological data is already underway. Economic vulnerabilities: The small-scale association Parti Poétique lacks funds. Every year, the question of the balance sheet arises. The good functioning of the site depends on public and private subsidies (corporate foundations), so it is not safe from a negative economic turnaround. What will be the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economic health of the site? Social vulnerabilities: Head gardener Franck Ponthier told us about a few episodes of tension with communities of the surrounding neighbourhood, which do not all see the development of this unprecedented initiative in this urban area in a positive light. The question of the threshold of intensity of social relations with the surrounding urban communities arises: what constitutes “ too much ” / “ too little ” relations between the site and the neighbourhood? [BAK, FS, HS] My brief visit during Portes Ouvertes (trans. Open Doors) on 20 June made tangible the gap that exists between Zone Sensible and the neighbourhood’s social life. Indeed

18.05.2020 – A lot of cat poo and piss. Smells bad for humans. Cat poo supposedly also not very good as fertilizer? 19.05.2020 – To see what is at stake for a Zoöp, disturbance is a handy concept, but it refers to events. We also need terms to address qualities (or lack thereof) of relations of Zoöps. Fragilities. Thicknesses. 20.05.2020 – Bindweed [fig. 1] begins to suffocate raspberries, bay leaf. Requires human vigilance. Many green aphids on the rose bush. Can easily be removed manually, awaiting the arrival of ladybirds. Big ivy gives too much shadow for other plants. Should cut away some branches. 26.05.2020 – Drought is beginning to show. Should set up water buffering.

fig. 1 Regarded as an « insect pest », the Colorado beetle attacks the leaves of various plants, such as potatoes. Less mediagenic than bees, they nevertheless raise questions about who takes part in a Zoöp, and on what terms.

this cultural bubble, located in the middle of a socially precarious zone, seems to be animated by the tensions that characterise any cultural project caught between urban development policies and social revitalization strategies. However, here the challenge of “ social gentrification ” seems to be primarily focused on the issues of rurality and ecology. People who frequent the place seem to go there less for reasons of territorial proximity (neighbourhood) and more for reasons of cultural affinity (ecological themes, permaculture techniques). [FC]

18.06.2020 – Realisation: In order for the resilience of this garden to be developed further, I need to look outside its demarcations. Started to think about the connections between this patch and the other gardens along the back alley. 20.06.2020 – Comment on note on cat poo. This was a very human-centric observation. Would now restate this as: a bunch of cats apparently feel free to use this garden as toilet, without a lot of territorial dispute (no fights). This is probably why no birds nest in this garden. Also it makes some corners less attractive for humans. 23.06.2020 – Many cats in the neighborhood hunt and kill birds. This week alone I think I’ve seen three birds being caught. This is a disturbance that requires a human intervention. [KK]

08.06.2020 – The slugs and snails arrive in force. Beertraps? Invite a hedgehog? 12.06.2020 – Realisation: I’ve not yet got an idea of a particular relation or process that needs to be made more legible for me to gain better access in order to better serve the quality of life in my little proto-Zoöp. I do see fragilities and related disturbances but also the immediate responses that are possible. Maybe this means that these interventions need to be performed before the more subtle questions of legibility can come into the picture.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 189

27/11/2020 10:02




“ Venezia è Laguna ” is more than a slogan promoted by We are here Venice, an NGO established in 2015 to change the future for Venice as a living city. It refers to the need to rebalance attention on the inseparability of historic city and the coastal wetland that encloses it. For too long, policies have been absorbed by the built heritage of Venice (its human dimension), and the lagoon (arguably the matrix for nonhuman life) became an alibi for infrastructure speculation. The vital role of the salt marsh is not adequately provided for by current policies and interventions, let alone its under-recognized rights to exist and under-valued “ ecosystem services ”.

We are working to find more ways to protect the lagoon, ranging from building stronger awareness by bringing the salt marsh into novel contexts like the Biennale (Villa Frankenstein, 2010) and Laguna Viva at the VAC Foundation (2018), to research fellowships addressing knowledge gaps. In 2019 we began a project to radically reframe the issue of restoring the lagoon by characterising the enhanced capacity of the salt marsh system to sequester and stock atmospheric carbon, thereby mitigating climate change. The applicability of the Zoöp concept to the Venetian lagoon system (or parts thereof) is a potentially more robust framework within which to position the carbon offset initiative. [JdM]

fig. 1 - fig. 2 More than 50 flags were hung from palace balconies along the Grand Canal on the occasion of the 2014 Regata Storica to protest against dredging a new channel for cruise ships

To act or not to act upon an ecosystem is probably the most delicate part of this zoönomic method. It requires making decisions based on a partial view of a piece of biosphere, since only human actors can make structural changes in its organisation and/ or behaviour. Several aspects have to be taken into account, some of which more objective than others, particularly when it comes to the quality of these relations. What is it like to be a tree, a dandelion, a dog, a crow or even a bat, in relation to all the other living or non-living beings sharing the same space? As human beings, we may acquire a better perception and knowledge of what each species may need to thrive or to live in harmony with the others, but how can we share a common system of reference? fig. 1 Wind intervention

VFS_Cahier2.indb 190

Robin’s intervention on the “ forest island ” near his home focuses on blocking CO2 emissions and wind with a natural rattan structure, as wind can enter the forest too fast, continually drying the soil and taking away important biomass that cannot transit into the ground. This method is inspired by the Sauen-Principle described by ecologist August Bier, who bought 500 ha of spruce stock in 1912 and identified three main factors that he was able to influence in order to make the forest resilient: wind, soil and humans. Robin also aims to uncover the hidden labour of trees, estimating the generated profit through CO2 sequestering, with the current rate of 25 EUR/t CO2, up to an annual amount of 76,65 EUR/ year. [PR, RH]

27/11/2020 10:02



INTERVENING How and why “ intervene ”? What can a group of artists, designers, anthropologists, architects, engineers and researchers bring to the life-world of Zone Sensible? We can help to “ raise awareness ”, that is, develop means of representation that can affect other humans and, possibly, mobilise them in favour of zoönomic approaches. Developing a sensing instrument or set of instruments to dynamically report on the sensibilities at stake in and around the site is already a challenge; this publication contributes to this step. It has led us to envisage the creation of a “ sensor ”, or sensing system, which would make it possible to literally take the pulse of the proto-Zoöp according to revealing elements, such as the composition of honey, which has proven to be an indicator of vegetal and cultur-

04.06.2020 – “ What I need is [visual] arguments to show the [socio-cultural and ecological] added value of subtracting this site from land speculation. ” (Olivier Darné)

al diversity. But, if our observations so far have led us to this insight, how then can we operate, co-operate, whilst taking care not to disturb more? How can we think of a sensor that not only captures, but also operates in the field, an effector that could also be an affective sensor for humans? Our first analysis led us through multiple scales. We are considering experimenting with a small form that would skilfully couple different dimensions (readings-interventions) within the same instrument. It should be both a means of representation and operation and could integrate a symbolic dimension. In order to weave active relations with Zone Sensible and other contexts, such as those presented in these pages, this instrument should be envisaged as a generic (adaptable) and public (open source) zoönomic instrument. [SB, SK, BAK, FC, HS, FS] fig. 1 The shipping containers hide the site from passers-by

20.05.2020 – Removed bindweed consistently in most of the garden, leaving it to grow behind compost heap. Manually removed aphids on rose. 26.05.2020 – Politely cut away some branches of the ivy to allow more sun to reach the ground. 04.06.2020 – Realisation: Interventions in response to disturbances or perceived fragilities should be found as much as possible within the demarcated ecosphere as it is. This way, relations between communal species are thickened, for example, mulching. One can buy a bag of tree bark mulch at the garden centre. One can also use the leaves of a plant or tree that is part of the proto-Zoöp. The second option thickens the relations in the Zoöp and is therefore preferable. Decided to use the ivy leaves that were cut off or that fall off by themselves as mulch. 10.06.2020 – Installed 100 -l water container [fig.1]. 23.06.2020 – Added a bright colour to the cats' collar band, because supposedly birds notice bright colours more than movement. After it caught another sparrow, also added bells. No more birds caught since. 24.06.2020 – Realisation: After performing interventions that address obvious fragilities, there are two possible paths to further increase the quality of life here. First is to

VFS_Cahier2.indb 191

learn to observe the Zoöp's less legible internal relations. Second is to also take into account external relations. The quality of life of this proto-Zoöp can be enhanced by thickening the relations with other gardens and the species that live there. Under the current logic of human ownership and privacy, this implies also stronger connections between the humans that have agency over those gardens. 24.06.2020 – Sent out message to inquire into the interest of the neighbours to start an Association of Owners. Favourable response. Will also have to reach out to the housing corporation. [KK]

27/11/2020 10:02



Lorem ipsum 1 a

2 y

3 y

4 y






ZOĂ–NOMIC METHOD 1: step 1, demarcating 2: step 2, observing & sensing 3: step 3: characterizing 4: step 4: intervening a: Venice b: Berlin c: Paris d: Amsterdam y: collective characterisation of findings x: iterative process that allows findings in each step to also nuance and refine all other steps int the method

VFS_Cahier2.indb 192

27/11/2020 10:02



The research process has been intensely collective and collaborative. This turned out to be an essential quality when working with the zoönomic method. The text below however, is a summary of shared findings through the perspective of one researcher only (Klaas Kuitenbrouwer), since was no more time to develop this through our collective process.

EVALUATION The zoönomic method is intended as a way to assess key aspects of beginning Zoöps. As Zoöps can be located at very different sites in different landscapes and situations and can exist at different scales, it was important that the method was applied under a variety of site-conditions. In relation to the four steps in the method, we developed the following insights. DEMARCATING ideally follows legal, spatial and ecological boundaries together, but in practice these are not congruent. The first demarcation follows legal and spatial logic, sets soil and spatially bound plants as first perspective. As the processes progresses other boundaries come into perspective. Demarcating does not mean internal relations have to be the main sites of intervention, although they are often the first. Multisensory, aesthetic obervations sensitise humans as well. OBSERVING comes with entanglement and leads to the awareness that humans need to be given a place in the multispecies networks. All beings observe or sense each other. Attempting to relate to other perspectives is important. Different knowledge practices developed in the arts, the posthumanities, the sciences and in economy have to meet, intersect and complement each other in the observations.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 193

CHARACTERISATION should account for different levels of dynamism of different sites. It should account for disturbances - fast and slow events that demand reconfiguring of a Zoöp in order to maintain or enhance its quality of life. Characterisation should also account for qualities of multispecies relations fragilities, thicknesses. Often, important fragilities that were observed resided in the sphere of human social, economic, or political relations. Staying with the soil makes them relevant in new ways and suggests other logics for intervening. INTERVENING should strengthen internal relations first, if necessary, then move outward. Since all relations are coupled, zoönomic interventions can address anything from subterranean metabolic relations to political campaigns and ownership relations. Next to apply certain elements of this research in their own practice, the different teams that conducted the research will continue to collaborate towards developing zoönomic instruments and methods. More information at: zoop.

27/11/2020 10:02



Marta Fernandez Guardado is an architect based in Berlin and a teaching member of the Design Studio Brandlhuber at ETH Zürich, using film format to communicate architecture as a discipline that affects the everyday. As a PhD candidate at HCU Hamburg, she researches the potential of relational and performative qualities of domestic artefacts through personal narratives, questioning standards and exploring alternative ways of living. In 2038, Marta publishes her study on spatial devices for multispecies domestic cohabitation.

Sonja Junkers is a curator living and working in Berlin. In a collection of contemporary art and a cultural institution she was part of Team 2038, and oversaw the research for and exhibition for the German Pavilion at the 2021 Architecture In 2038, Sonja is running a laboratory.

the past she built in Jordan. In 2020 production of the Biennial in Venice.

Roberta Jurcic works as an architect in the Brandlhuber+ office in Berlin and teaches at the Design Studio Brandlhuber at ETH Zürich. She investigated the housing shortage in city centres and its connection to the privatization of land. Currently, as part of teaching, she is researching multispecies cohabitation through video format. In 2038, Roberta is architecting Unité d’Cohabitation.

Christopher Roth is an artist, film director and tv producer. In 2018, Roth colaunched space–, a web-platform with three stations: realty-v, s+ and 42. In the same year, a 90-minute film, Architecting after Politics, premiered. After The Property Drama (2017) and Legislating Architecture (2016), it is the third film with Brandlhuber+ about architecture and politics. The feature film Baader won the Alfred Bauer Prize in Berlin 2002. He teaches in the Architecture department at ETH Zurich and is one of the curators of the German Pavilion in the Venice Biennale in 2020/21. In 2038, Christopher changes from making TV to watching TV – as a job.

Matteo Stocco is a video maker who lives and works in Venice. Stocco’s main field of research concerns the dynamics and problems that influence the contemporary development of the city. His work aims to observe the micro boundaries of intimacy and everyday life. In 2038, Matteo gives lessons to matsutake mushrooms on how to survive to the ever-changing environment of the lagoon, adapting them to salty soil, tides, the local fauna and communication between the local species.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 194

27/11/2020 10:02



Sant’Erasmo 2038 poster M.S.

“To travel is very useful, it makes the imagination work, the rest is just delusion and pain. Our journey is 56.3% imaginary, which is its strength.” Sant’Erasmo was until now another struggling local pantry for the restaurants in the centre of Venice, dedicated to mass tourism. The island, with severe difficulties in competing with the global market and after decades of exploitation and environmental abuse, has been suddenly reappointed by the pandemic as a possible fruitful habitat for Venetians, humans and non-humans. This is the starting point of a collaborative project that combines documentary with science fiction, aiming to explore the complex current situation of Sant’Erasmo, and to speculate on feasible and favourable scenarios for its future as a living structure. In 2038, Christopher, Marta, Roberta and Sonja met Matteo in Venice and travelled together to Sant’Erasmo, where they explored the restored environment and discussed how the challenges of the past were overcome and the new serenity arrived on the island. M.F.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 195

27/11/2020 10:02



M.F. MS: Oh, look! Do you see the little fish? RJ: Are they robotic or real? As a local, can you differentiate between them? For me they all look the same. MS: They’re robotic ones, don’t you see the sensors? And this foam they produce is the result of their analysis of the lagoon in order to stabilize the pH of the water.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 196

27/11/2020 10:02



MF: It’s full! They can’t all be robotic! MS: The real ones teach the robotic ones how to swim. Sometimes we can’t know which ones are real and which ones are robotic. They teach each other so much ... RJ: And the robotic ones teach the real ones how to escape. Apparently, if a crazy person tried to catch one fish, it would be impossible.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 197

27/11/2020 10:02


198 From: Subject: Date: To:

Sonja Junkers voila 20. July 2020 at 17:26 Fernandez Guardado Marta, Jurcic Roberta L & ⏱ ' " # $ %/

On the passage





of five people

B& "' # $E %&

and a camera

.5 NM

through a

time by Morgan Captain

and Jackie Sparrow

Recently, we came across footage unfortunately can’t divulge 2038

from the future

. How we got hol

yet, but what we can share is its pecul

, five people

will be invited to explore

situated in the Venetian Laguna of them, a filmmaker

, a 30 minute

Sant Er

Vaporetto ride


, knows the place, and is offering to take th

never met before) on several tours across the Sant Erasmo. As they che the island

they decide to record

their extended walks

is physically present on the island

. The other four


experience the place through his camera and a software called Dériv technical and the digital equipment record much more than mere visuals experience the same sensations as their newfound friend like he does, they get revived when he has a coffee feel the air stream

of an enormous robotic

flying past, they smell of a bee

are drifting

(remember, it’s the f

them talk

developments ䷴, we can’t see


across the island

discoveries and whatever catches their eye while we can hear

(and have an op

the scent of the vegetation

because of a life threatening

about latest

: they are f

and warn

one of them has. , they discuss

. Unfortunately, watching

technical, economic, p

the objects from the future which they

to do with the fact that time traveling is still in early stages. converts content back to a present state, erasing whatever will exist Bummer.


VFS_Cahier2.indb 198

27/11/2020 10:02



.5 NM

2+ " # $7 %&


☣ 13 ' *Q



6 K☕ ,

F> G

' " #0 8 $9 %: ; <


hrough a rather brief moment of

got hold of the material


ts peculiar content !. In May Sant Erasmo, a small island


from Venice

. Only one

take the other four (whom he had

they cheerfully drift


. Only the filmmaker are merely able to

ed Dérive . Combined, the visuals: the four visitors ey are feeling cold or hot

ve an opinion on its taste), they

’s the future

d warn

) mosquito

him from staying clear

hem has. While the five friends



their serendipitous the footage


nomic, political and social

hich they see

. This might have

stages. Apparently, material l exist only in the future.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 199

27/11/2020 10:02




VFS_Cahier2.indb 200

27/11/2020 10:02


VFS_Cahier2.indb 201


27/11/2020 10:02


VALUES FOR SURVIVAL: CAHIER 2 18 Light tower upside down and Matteo’s tattoos with mask by CR


VFS_Cahier2.indb 202

27/11/2020 10:02


SANT'ERASMO 2038 18 Richard Buckminster Fuller’s scenario universe was less the dream of a singular future than it was an endlessly rambling series of stories. More like Sultana Scheherazade’s A Thousand and One Nights, thwarting extinction by generating yet another feedback loop, every night another narrative universe of co-existing.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 203

27/11/2020 10:02






VFS_Cahier2.indb 204

27/11/2020 10:02




VFS_Cahier2.indb 205

27/11/2020 10:02


VALUES FOR SURVIVAL: CAHIER 2 18 Towards a system of stories – methodology


2038 MF













Methodology diagram. R.J.+M.F.











In the beginning we came up with stories. The five of us – the 2038 satellite and the Venice Lagoon satellite. Each one developed theirs perspective/agent/character for a future of Sant’Erasmo. Individual stories. We shared the fragments. The vegetables, animals and pirates. The water and the air. The reflex is to say ‘I like this‘, I don’t agree with this.‘ That’s fine. You don’t have to. This makes it viable and robust. Continuous feedback loops make disagreement possible. Permanent beta. The story doesn’t have an end. It has no beginning either. We are always at the end and always at the beginning. It is a Ballardian circle, but not dystopian. The only thing we have to collectively agree on is that one story can’t make another story impossible. If you kill all the fish, there is no fish story anymore. Instead of a single common scenario, we have to come up with a framework that lets our stories co-exist. All members have to coinhabit. ALL as the planet. We can’t outsource the shit. There is no outside. So, autonomous decentralized systems adapt locally. Within a binding planetary legal framework. From the perspective of 2038, we can say: it kind of works. It’s not paradise, there are still bad people around but we live in a much better world than 20 years ago. CR

VFS_Cahier2.indb 206

27/11/2020 10:02



đ&#x;‘? đ&#x;‘? đ&#x;‘? đ&#x;‘? đ&#x;‘? đ&#x;‘? đ&#x;‘? đ&#x;‘? đ&#x;‘? đ&#x;‘? đ&#x;‘?

Exoloratorium review/ratings – feedback

đ&#x;‘Œ đ&#x;‘Œ đ&#x;™‚ â?¤ đ&#x;Ś• đ&#x;?„ đ&#x;§™ đ&#x;?&#x; đ&#x;‘Ł đ&#x;?Ź

MF: At the very start of our first trip to Sant’Erasmo, Matteo pointed out some little fish and referred to them as ‘robotic’. We followed the game: we were in 2038. It looked the same but it was much better.

Points of contact:

đ&#x;‘? đ&#x;‘? đ&#x;‘? đ&#x;‘€ đ&#x;§&#x; ✋ đ&#x;‘Œ đ&#x;‘Œ đ&#x;™‚ â?¤ â?¤ đ&#x;Ś• đ&#x;Œł đ&#x;?„ đ&#x;§™ đ&#x;?&#x; đ&#x;‘Ł đ&#x;‘˝ đ&#x;?Ź đ&#x;?Ą đ&#x;š¤ â›° đ&#x;’Ż đ&#x;’ƒ đ&#x;§œ đ&#x;Ś‘ đ&#x;§ đ&#x;”? đ&#x;ŽŁ đ&#x;Ľ‡ đ&#x;’š đ&#x;Œš đ&#x;?† đ&#x;Ľš đ&#x;ĽŚ đ&#x;§— đ&#x;Œ™ đ&#x;’“ đ&#x;˜? đ&#x;›ł ✅ đ&#x;™? đ&#x;?¸ ☄ đ&#x;Œą đ&#x;‘ƒ đ&#x;§š đ&#x;’• đ&#x;˜˛ đ&#x;•ł đ&#x;•ş đ&#x;¤Ž đ&#x;’€ đ&#x;”

đ&#x;‘Œ đ&#x;‘Œ đ&#x;‘Œ đ&#x;‘Œ đ&#x;™‚ đ&#x;™‚ â?¤ â?¤ â?¤ â?¤ đ&#x;?&#x; đ&#x;?Ź đ&#x;?Ź

đ&#x;’Ż đ&#x;’Ż đ&#x;’Ż đ&#x;§œ đ&#x;Ś‘ đ&#x;§ đ&#x;§ đ&#x;§ đ&#x;§ đ&#x;§

SJ: –Please describe one or two significant moments in this collaboration: –What did you discover in this project: —How would use this knowledge in your future work:










đ&#x;ĽŚ đ&#x;ĽŚ CR:

����� ����


đ&#x;•ł đ&#x;•ł

VFS_Cahier2.indb 207


27/11/2020 10:02



Huda AbiFarès Khatt Foundation, Center for Arabic Typography Dr. Huda Smitshuijzen AbiFarès is the Founding Director of the Khatt Foundation and Khatt Books publishers. She holds degrees in design and design history from Leiden University (PhD), Yale University School of Art (MFA), and Rhode Island School of Design (BFA). She is member of AGI (Alliance Typographique Internationale). She specializes in multilingual typographic research and design, with focus on Arabic typography and design history. She has published several books on typography and design from the Arab World, and contributes essays regularly to professional and academic publications. She is a designer, writer, researcher, editor and design curator.

Michel Banabila Sound Artist, Composer, and Producer Michel Banabila, born 1961, is a sound artist, composer, and producer. Banabila releases music since 1983 and has produced musical scores for numerous films, documentaries, theatre plays and choreographies. His music varies from minimal loop-based electronica, fourth world, and neoclassical pieces, to drones, experimental electronica, tribal ambient, and punk-as-fuck tape music. His work has been released internationally by labels like Bureau B (DE), Eilean Rec (FR) and Séance Centre (CA).

Mohamed Gaber Multidisciplinary Designer and Artist Mohamed Gaber is a multidisciplinary designer and visual artist based in Cairo, Egypt. He works in a wide range of creative disciplines including type, web, graphic design, and live VJ generative art performing. His main interest lies in the haptic nature of the production of type as well as the technological, philosophical, and historical aspects to it. His work is driven by the values of free experimentation and perpetual learning. His work has been nominated for the Jameel Art Prize (2013) and his font Cairo was awarded Best Arabic Display font from the Granshan type competition (2016).

Fantina Madricardo Researcher at ISMAR Istituto di Scienze Marine Dr. Fantina Madricardo is a researcher at ISMAR Istituto di Scienze Marine. She has degrees in Physics from the University of Padova, Italy (1999), a PhD in Theoretical Physics from the University of Hamburg, Germany (2002). Her research focuses on underwater acoustics and shallow water geophysics applied to geomorphology, benthic habitat mapping and the study of anthropogenic impacts on the seabed in coastal areas. She is currently the CNR-ISMAR coordinator of the IT-HR Interreg project “SOUNDSCAPE- Soundscapes in the North Adriatic Sea and their impact on marine biological research.

Marta Picciulin Marine Biologist & Research Fellow Department of Environmental Sciences, Informatics, and Statistics, Ca' Foscari of the University of Venice Dr Marta Picciulin is a marine biologist and a research fellow at the Department of Environmental Sciences, Informatics, and Statistics, Ca' Foscari of the University of Venice (Venice, Italy). She holds a PhD in the Methodology of Bio-Monitoring the Environmental Alteration from form the University of Trieste (Italy), and a Masters Degree in Science Communication from the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA, Trieste, Italy). Her research topics include marine ethology, animal communication and the effects of anthropogenic noise on marine life. She is equally interested in environmental communication in new media.


SCRIPTS OF 19 THE LAGOON The project, Scripts of the Lagoon, explores the relation between sound and responsive asemic scripts (scripts that deconstruct culture-specific and structured languages and transforms them into a universal language of pure emotion). The aim is to develop an audio-visual script for transhuman life forms. The interaction between sound, colors, shapes, and motion will create a series of animated audio-visual segments, phrases consisting of unintelligible sounds, that can be assembled and combined in endless configurations, triggered by and responding to movement and light. The sounds of the Venetian lagoon forms the foundation of this exploration and guides the creation of this imaginary script that will act as interface between the underwater and the overwater worlds. Underwater sounds are a central theme of the exploration, whereby sound becomes the force from which data is extracted and used to build an immersive and imaginary world where symbols act as both abstract script and three-dimensional organism. The research progressed organically; the team was built as the ideas of what was needed to be explored emerged. The first members were Huda AbiFarès (typographer) and Mohamed Gaber (multidisciplinary artist/designer) who wanted to explore developing an asemic and responsive script that speaks on an emotional level across living species. Since the project was veering towards an audiovisual language, the organizers of the Exploratorium introduced them to musician Michel Banabila. The three-person team was again expanded after discussion about what the sound should be and what the topic of the project could be. The curators then introduced the team to researcher and physicist Fantina Madricardo who was involved in a project on noise pollution in the Venice lagoon. As the discussion evolved, Fantina suggested we invite marine biologist Marta Picciulin who was recording the sounds of marine life in the Venice lagoon and the Adriatic sea. The team was then perfect with the contribution of each member adding their expert knowledge and giving the artistic and hypothetical exploration a sound (no pun intended) scientific base. The project became more geared towards the aspect of

sound, its symbolism, and its communication potential across species. The visual script and the immersive environment we set out to create became totally dependent on the sounds created by Michel that were inspired by actual sounds from the marine environments shared by Fantina and Marta, and by deconstructed human speech in various human languages. The data extracted from these soundscapes, were translated by algorithms, scripted by Mohamed Gaber, into the virtual landscape and audio-visual scripts. In parallel a research on fictional and conceptual scripts was conducted by Huda AbiFarès, that fed into the design of the virtual scripts. In the following pages we present the various components of the research and our blueprint for the further development of the project. We hope that this exploration can lead to an immersive and interactive art installation that brings empathy and awareness about sound pollution and its detrimental effects on marine life and ecology.



Collecting marine sounds and learning about underwater acoustic pollution. THE INTERREG PROJECT SOUNDSCAPE


The Northern Adriatic Sea (NAS) is an area highly impacted by increasing maritime traffic, tourism and resource exploitation, while having a vulnerable biodiversity. The main objective of the Italy-Croatia Interreg project SOUNDSCAPE is to create a cross-border technical, scientific and institutional cooperation to face together the challenge of assessing the impact of underwater environmental noise on the marine fauna and in general on the NAS ecosystem. This cooperation aims to ensure an efficient protection of marine biodiversity and to develop a sustainable use of marine and coastal ecosystems and resources. The objectives are to be pursued in three ways: 1) implementing a shared monitoring network for a coordinated regional and transnational assessment of the underwater noise, 2) evaluating the noise impact on marine biological resources, and 3) developing and implementing a planning tool for straightforward management. The problem of underwater noise pollution is hardly recognised by the public and stakeholders, because it is difficult to represent visually. This project is important for making the issue visible, finding new ways of communicating the existence of the problem, and more generally, making people aware of the impact of noise on marine organisms and environment.

The sea is still regarded as the silent world but marine animals are adapted to hear and use sound in their environment. The most renowned sound-producing marine organism are dolphins and great whales. Despite the saying “mute as a fish”, at present more than 100 vocal fish species have been identified. Most sounds are produced for reasons related to breeding and territorial defence, and are key signals in the successful struggle for survival. By using an hydrophone, which is a kind of “electronic ear” designed for listening to underwater sounds, and is slightly more sensitive than human ears, we can even detect the sounds made by some crustacean species, such as the snapping shrimps (genus Alpheus and genus Synalpheus). The giant claw of snapping shrimps can snap shut in fractions of a second creating a cavitation bubble that is loud enough to stun their prey. While naturally occuring noises can be produced by rainfall, thunderstorms, breaking of waves, there are a lot of new sources of noise . In the last few decades, anthropogenic (human-made) noises have become so intense and widespread that they are currently responsible for most of the underwater noise. This has dramatic consequences for marine organisms. Studies have shown that marine traffic is the main source of acoustic pollution in the Mediterranean sea. Underwater acoustic pollution is exacerbated by climate change, which is inducing an increase in sea water acidity. In turn, this has caused a significant decrease in the capacity of water to absorb high-frequency sounds compared to the pre-industrial era.

Fantina Madricardo

Red-Mouthed Goby

Bottlenose Dolphin

Snapping Shrimp

Anthropogenic noise exposure can produce a wide range of effects on most marine species. Loud sound emissions will eventually lead some animals to move away from the area, or to modify their migratory route in order to avoid the noise, as it is known to occur in whales. Sedentary or territorial animals such as reef dwelling fish don't move away, but exhibit stress responses . A generalized increase in the underwater background noise will drastically decrease the minimum distance required to effectively communicate: the noise produced by human activities overlaps biological sounds, masking them and making them virtually impossible to be detected. In its turn this affect the reproduction and the survival of the target animals. Marta Picciulin



Turning marine sounds and human speech into a fictional soundscape and imaginary language. scripts-of-the-lagoon-exploratorium-2020 Michel Banabila used Fantina Madricorda and Marta Picciulin's recordings of the Venice Lagoon and Adriatic Sea, interlaced them with segments of various human speech in various languages, and created a unusual fictional soundscape. He said: “it was interesting and inspiring to receive all those well recorded underwater sounds. I explored creating with an alien (non-existent) language, voices of imaginary creatures (extracted from both

human and animal sounds), and a soundscape of a fictional underwater world. The sounds were manipulated, collaged, and some digital effects were applied to them.� These sounds later became the building blocks and force that moved the virtual world of Scripts of the Lagoon.



Research on fictional and conceptual scripts. Huda AbiFarès

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

The Hymmnos alphabet create d Akira RE F G JDQ IST UVW AB CXS 19

1.2 Sarati Alphabet

1.1 Hymmnos

1.4 Golic Vulcan (the three scripts). From left to right: Traditional Calligraphy (spo'Vanu-Tanaf-Kitaun), Standard Script (spo'Gotavlu-Zukitaun), and Handwriting (spo'El'ru-Kitaun). 1.3 Atlantean (Dig Adlantisag)

Scripts are at their basic level a visual representation of sound. They also often represent languages and structured systems of communication. There is an extensive amount of scripts in the world, that represent real or imagined languages and cultures. They often consist of abstract symbols and reading them requires learning to decipher their code. On these pages are some of the variety of scripts that do not represent known and spoken languages, collected from various sources. The scripts that interest us for this project can be divided into three categories: 1) fictional scripts for imaginary worlds, cultures and languages, often connected to games, literature or sci-fi movies; 2) the magical scripts designed for divinations and predicting the future; 3) conceptual scripts that are constructed to explore certain themes or the very nature of script design, both in the formal and structural sense.

1. Fictional scripts 1.1 Hymmnos The Hymmnos alphabet was created by Akira Tsuchiya for the video game series “Ar tonelico”, set in the distant future of AD 3700. According to Akira, it is based in appearance upon one of the Sanskrit scripts. The Hymmnos language used in it is a distant descendent of English with influences from Japanese, Sanskrit and German.1 1.2 Sarati Alphabet The Sarati alphabet is one of the many scripts created by E J.R.R. Tolkien for his invented languages, out of which was born his famous tales of Middle-earth (The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarilion). Tolkien's Sarati alphabet only appears in a small number of inscriptions in the tales of Middleearth. It is written from left to right in vertical columns. Vowels are written to left or right of the consonant letter.2

1.3 Atlantean (Dig Adlantisag) The Atlantean script was designed for the Atlantean language, for the film Atlantis: The Lost Empire, by Marc Okrand and Disney designer John Emerson. The language is spoken and written by the people of Atlantis in the film and is integral to the plot. The language was inspired and constructed from Biblical Hebrew, Greek, Latin and Indo-European languages.3 1.4 Golic Vulcan Golic Vulcan is one of the constructed languages of the Vulcan race from the science fiction series Star Trek. It was carefully crafted over many years by Mark R. Gardner and other collaborators in the Vulcan Language Institute (defunct since the latter half of 2008). The Vulcan scripts were inspired by Vulcan writing-related imagery that has appeared in the series on screen. The Traditional Calligraphy script is inspired by the graphic design of Michael Okuda; the Standard Script by the costume design of Robert Fletcher, and



1.5 Utopian Alphabet

2.1 Theban Alphabet

2.2 Malachim Alphabet (from Bartolozzi's Biblioteca Magna Rabbinica, 1675)

2.3 Angelic Alphabet

2.4 Yi Jing Hexagrams (48 signs out of 64)

turning visual imagery from the series into functional alphabets has been done by Britton Watkins of korsaya. org. The direction of writing is flexible; left-to-right, right-to-left, but most traditionally rendered top to bottom. Letterforms are conjoined within words without having any shape variation, though there are some ligatures.4

2. Magical and spiritual scripts

1.5 Utopian Alphabet The Utopian alphabet was invented in the 16th century by Thomas More (1478-1535), a lawyer, writer, scholar, statesman, diplomat, political theorist and patron of the arts. It appears in his book Utopia, written in Latin and published in 1516. The name Utopia is a pun meaning both the “good place” and “no place”, for a fictional country.5

2.2. Malachim Alphabet The Malachim alphabet is derived from the Hebrew and Greek alphabets. It was created by Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa during the 16th Century and is still used by Freemasons.7

2.1 Theban Alphabet The origins of the Theban alphabet are lost in the mists of time. It is often called “The Runes of Honorius” after its reputed inventor, Honorius of Thebes. It is also known as the Witch's Alphabet.6

2.3 Angelic Alphabet The Angelic alphabet, which is also known as the Celestial alphabet, is derived from the Hebrew and Greek alphabets. It was also created by Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa during the 16th Century and was used for communication with angels.8

2.4 Yi Jing Hexagrams (I Ching) The Yi Jing Hexagrams are a set of symbols that appear in the I Ching, known as the Book of Changes of Classic of Changes, an ancient Chinese text on divination that provides inspiration in the fields of religion, psychoanalysis, literature and art. The earliest known version was written between 1000-750 BC. It has been extensively revised, many commentaries have been added, and there have been many interpretations of the text. The Yi Jing Hexagrams consists of six horizontal lines. The lines are either solid or broken. Each hexagram has a name and various meanings associated with it. Different combinations of hexagrams are interpreted as signifying various outcomes. In ancient China the hexagrams were used to determine divine intentions and to find answers to questions about all aspects of life.9



3.2 Trees Alphabet

abcdef ghijklm nopqrs t0 1 u2 3v 4w5 6x 7y8 z9 !@#$%^&*()_+=-<>?/{} 3.1 Portucolor (Color Script)

3. Conceptual scripts 3.1 Portucolor (Color Script) Portucolor is a way of writing the Portuguese in a colour and shape system designed by Carlos Carrion. It is based on a simplified version of the Munsell color system. There are 10 basic colors or ‘hues’ (like the Munsell chroma and hue concept)10 for 19 IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) consonants, which have their particular ‘values’ or ‘chroma’ in CV (Consonant-Vowel) syllables where IPA vowel sounds are marked in 6 shades of grey. There are also symbols for ‘isolated consonants’ and ‘isolated vowels’ beyond the basic CV forms.11 3.2 Trees Alphabet The Trees Alphabet was created by Massimiliano Monagheddu. It can be used to write any language. Long vowels and consonants are marked by a vertical line on the right side of the letter. It is written from left to right in vertical columns, with letters stacked

3.3 New York City Trees Alphabet

vertically so that each word will form a column that resembles the stem of a tree with branches.12 3.3 New York City Trees Alphabet New York City Trees is an experimental font that substitutes each letter by the drawing of a tree whose name starts with this letter. The alphabet also contains numerals (0-9) in the form of a branch with a number of leaves corresponding the numeral. It also contains details from trees like seeds and fruits that constitute the symbols of punctuation. Designed in 2015 by Irish book artist Katie Holten for her book About Trees, she says: “each text becomes its own forest.” She continues: “I think of the book as an archive of human knowledge filtered through branches of thought.”13 3.4 Forms and Counterforms In 1998, the renowned Swiss type designer Adrian Frutiger presented in his book, Forms and Counterforms,14 his theory on how to create abstract visual

form that contains natural harmony. He created an organic and fluid visual language, with 2D symbols, that aimed to mirrored the balance and harmony within nature, and expressed the fundamental and basic questions of human existence. 3.5 Dimensional Typography In 1996, J. Abbott Miller and kiosk, published a book, Dimensional Typography, that documented their exploration in turning 2D fonts into 3D objects, reflecting on “the spatial potential of typography in virtual environment.”15 The letters took sculptural forms: transformed into crystal goblins, spiky-thorned organic plant forms, or fluid mercury-like structures. This was the beginning of the flourishing of digital typeface design that saw a level of experimentation and optimistic hypotheses on the role of visual communication in the digital age.



3.4b Forms & Counterforms: Evolution of an organic symbol showing movement

3.4a Forms & Counterforms: Variations on a symbol

3.4c Forms & Counterforms: From seed to embryo, growth and evolution in nature

3.5a Dimensional Type: Crystal Goblins

3.5b Dimensional Type: Mercury

3.5c Dimensional Type: Plymorphous

3.5d Dimensional Type: Rhizome


3.6 Norm The Things In 2002, the design studio norm published a book, Norm: The Things,16 that documented their typographic exploration of symbol generation. They devised a 9-point grid and a system of connections between these 9 points to create a range of 65535 unique symbols. The connections were strictly vertical, horizontal and diagonal straight lines, thus excluding the potential of curves and organic forms.The symbols could be open or enclosed within a square, they could like letterforms or pictograms, or just abstract shapes that trigger various emotional associations. Though the system was rather strict, it yielded a wide range of abstract symbols that reference scripts for ancient scripts of imaginary languages.



1. Omniglot, the online encyclopedia of writing systems and languages. conscripts/hymmnos.htm. 2. Omniglot. 3. Omniglot. atlantean.htm. Font download: https://www. 4. Omniglot. vulcan.htm. 5. Omniglot. utopian.htm. Font download: com/site/nihilistorguk/. 6. Omniglot. theban.htm. More info.: http://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Theban_alphabet,, http://, 7. Omniglot. malachim.htm. Font download: http://www. 8. Omniglot. angelic.htm. More info.: http://www.paganspath. com/meta/celalpha.htm, http://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Celestial_Alphabet,, http://www., https://www.

SCRIPTS OF THE LAGOON 19 9. Omniglot. htm. More info.: Hexagram_(I_Ching), wiki/I_Ching, List_of_hexagrams_of_the_I_Ching, http://, 10. Munsell Color. Prof. Albert H. Munsell, an artist and art teacher, developed the basic principles of his color system mainly for the purpose of bringing order to the study of color. He discoved the three-dimensional aspect of color, whereby each color has three attributes: 1) Hue – color such as red, orange, yellow, etc, 2) Value – the lightness or darkness of a color, 3) Chroma – the saturation or brilliance of a color. Munsell published the basic principles of the color order system in his 1905 book, A Color Notation. In 1915, he published The Munsell Atlas of Color, a predecessor to today’s Munsell Books of Color. about-munsell-color/development-of-the-munsell-color-order-system/, https://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Munsell_color_system. 11. Omniglot. colorscript.htm. 12. Omniglot. trees.htm.

13. Katrine Øgaard Jensen. “Translating Borges into Trees: An Interview with Book Artist Katie Holten”, Asymptote. August 20, 2015. https:// translating-borges-and-radiohead-into-trees-aninterview-with-book-artist-katie-holten/. Font dowload: 14. Ronald Schenkel, Adrian Frutiger: Form and Counterforms. Cham, Switzerland: Syndor Press, 1998. 15. J. Abbott Miller & kiosk, Dimensional Typography, Case Studies on the Shape of Letters in Virtual Environments. A Kiosk Report, distributed by Princeton Architectural Press, 1996. 16. Norm (Dimitri Bruni & Manuel Krebs), Norm: The Things. Berlin: Die Gestalten Verlag, 2002. Further sources on world writing systems:, The Missing Scripts project aims to promote worldwide scripts and reveal the extent of minority scripts that are not yet integrated into the Unicode standard. It will endeavor to encode these scripts by making them accessible and as a way to save them from extinction.



Using sound data to explore the creation of virtual landscape and audiovisual scripts.

Huda AbiFarès investigated the possibilities of a new form of trans-human audiovisual script that can communicate across living species (like music), and that can only exist in a virtual (digital world), yet have resonance in the real (biological) world. These ideas discussed with the team led to a new direction in the exploration. Mohamed Gaber, used these ideas and the data generated by Michel Banabila's sounds to build a virtual world, an amphibian landscape inhabited by asemic organism-like symbols that move and emit sound signals. Sound became the central force in this imaginary world, like the wind or the moon that moves the tides. Sound data was used to develop generative algorithms that analyse the data and dictate the visuals of this virtual and amphibious landscape. Sound-based data was also used to guide the movement within this imaginary world and to create the look and

behaviour of its inhabitants—the symbols of the asemic script. In Gaber's words, “the algorithms generate the water surface and move this waterworld's tides, taking us on a journey through its surface, while unidentified sounds and noises trigger the tidal waves that move us from skimming the surface to diving underneath.” Prototypes of different kind of symbol-sound combinations, different camera movements and angles, and also the possible ways that these may work together, was generated as an initial outcome of this collaboration. The next step in the process would be develop a more complex set of elements and build in the factor of spatial interactivity. This requires more complex programming and testing and further explorations. We hope to continue developing this project, to ultimately create an immersive and interactive installation, where different elements combine in response to viewers' movements.

The interactivity is an important component that will immerse the viewer in this imaginary world, so they can experience the intelligible underwater sounds like marine creatures would, and see symbols that they cannot read but that trigger abstract emotional meaning. We hope this experience will instigate empathy towards marine life and ultimately uphold basic ‘values for survival’, namely empathy and compassion.





Scripts of the Lagoon [Exploratorium 2020] movie.

Prototypes of virtual landscapes, three-dimensional asemic, and audiovisual scripts. Each animated symbol in this script is connected to a specific sound, movement, behaviour and emotion.






Initial Idea: to create an audiovisual and responsive asemic script.

Sound research & discussions: exploring appropriate sounds and themes.

Research Creative Explorations

1. Huda + Gaber: May 2020

Script research: investigating fictional, conceptual and visual scripts, ones with emotional and symbolic characteristics

Soundscape experiments: exploring sounds of an alien language, imaginary creatures and imaginary underwater world

2. Huda + Gaber + Michel: May 2020

Sound recordings of the Venice Lagoon & Adriatic Sea: scientific recordings that measure the effects of noise pollution on marine life.

2a. Huda: June –July 2020

5. Michel: June –July 2020

3. Huda + Michel + Fantina: May 2020

Audiovisual script explorations: Sound data used to develop algorithms for drawing an imaginary landscape, and its 3D symbolic and asemic scripts.

1. Type of recordings: Ambient underwater sounds 4. Fantina: Ongoing

2. Type of recordings: Isolated marine creatures sounds

Prototypes for an immersive and interactive installation that aims to instigate empathy towards marine life and raise awareness about under– water sound pollution.

6. Gaber: June –July 2020

4a. Marta: Ongoing

7. Team: Work in progress

METHODOLOGY Hypothesis: To create a non-verbal asemic script that can transcend species and that can communicate, like sound (or music), in associative and symbolic ways. Research: Scientific data and research was used as a springboard for lyrical and artistic experiments. The original sounds that inspired and informed the project were recorded and analysed by highly sensitive equipment that can record frequencies barely audible to human ears. We also collected information on non-verbal writing systems and scripts. Creative exploration process: Existing and scientifically recorded sounds were manipulated to create imaginary sounds and language. The data from the manipulated sounds were turned through computer programming software into a responsive virtual landscape, camera movements, motion and ‘behavior’ of abstract 3D objects.

Readings: The explorations were accompanied by further reading on various strategies and concepts behind the creation of scripts. It also covered research on sound symbolism. Discussions: The process of regular Skype meetings, exchanging information and files through emails, Google drives and Wetransfer, helped shape and defined the project's final concept. Final outcome: Prototypes of various moving symbols and sound sequences were produced. Conclusion: It was important to create a work that was informed by facts in order to creatively bring an urgent ‘environmental’ message to a non-specialist audience. The problem of communicating the issue of noise pollution to stakeholders and the public lies in the fact that it is difficult to visualise it. The combination of sound in an interactive and immersive virtual world can bring empathy towards the problems of the natural world, and marine life in particular.

Methodology in Numbers • Skype Meetings total: 16 meetings in 1035 minutes May 18 — July 6, 2020. • WhatsApp chats total: 24 chats May 23 — July 12, 2020. • Emails: 264 emails May 8 — July 12, 2020. • Exchange of sketches and research (through email, Google Drive, Wetransfer and WhatsApp): 105 Images, 6 written documents, 87 sound files, 29 animations movies. May 8 — July 12, 2020.

223 EVALUATION Huda AbiFarès A significant moment for me was when after several brainstorming sessions I started to concretely imagine where this research could lead. I felt that the mix of specializations and our respective professional jargons started getting calibrated into on a common language. At one point Fantina expressed why it is important to creatively and visually communicate a topic that remains abstract to a general public. She felt that visualizing the problem in a creative manner can help emotionally engage the audience. This was a moment where I felt that our work can be meaningful beyond just the experimental artistic investigation. In this project, I discovered a fascinating underwater world, and learned about the devastating impact of noise pollution on this fragile underworld ecosystem. I also discovered the work of my team members and found taking to them pushed me to think in new ways about my personal research on written scripts and typography. I have always been looking for new ways to explore the potential of scripts and typography to address culturally and socially relevant issues. This project opened the path to alternative ways of communicating on environmental issues, and to developing non-verbal communication that may generate empathy with nature in all its complexity. Mohamed Gaber One of the most significant moments in this collaboration for me was when I was explaining the algorithm I was developing for one of the artworks, how working with algorithms can be both progressive and unexpected in its abstraction, and how random the results can come out. The feedback from Fantina on how much similarities she felt there was between artistic exploration and scientific search in the methods of exploring and discovering new concepts. I discovered a new horizon to the abstraction of generative art. The chance to work closely with the team with all its versatility widened my horizon for this kind of work and its further potential. I will definitely use the knowledge I aquired in this project in my my upcoming project. This eye-opening experience has opened my eyes to new speculative possibilities where different disciplines of art and science meet.

SCRIPTS OF THE LAGOON 19 Michel Banabila The significant moments for me were when: 1. I received various underwater recorded sounds from Marta Picciulin, which got me focusing on sounds of the underwater world... something I never did before. 2. I also liked her stories about the various ways of communicating between the sea creatures and the sounds they make in this process. I am always interested in sound communicating without literal meaning of words, more like paying attention to the melody of human speech, but also the sounds that all sorts of animals make. Furthermore, thanks to Huda, I suddenly got very interested in the idea of fonts for a non existing or alien language, like an imaginary script, as Huda suddenly showed me some remarkable futuristic fonts that resembled a lot what I was drawing often when I was young. This also made me wonder about pre-existing symbols already hidden in our subconscious. I have already started incorporating this knowledge in my new work. https://banabila. This music is partly created by field recordings I made outside (like bird calls or sounds from crackling wood). I created the cover design for this single by using a digital kaleidoscopic app to recompose the graphic of an old illustration of plants and animals. After treatment the image changed completely and started to look like weird fonts for an imaginary language... which I think fitted with the music of this little single ‘Zoosemiotics’. Fantina Madricardo The significant moment for me was when we saw the visualization of the sounds and we discussed together how to improve it and the further iterations. It was very interesting to work with artists who have a different points of view and who were trying to collaborate with us and to give a visual shape to the sound. I appreciated very much the iterative and interactive process of working together to improve the common work. I believe that I would use this knowledge in the future to explain to the general public the importance of the underwater noise pollution problem.

Marta Picciulin I really like the point when I realized that a new caring relationship has been created as a new territory - between scientific facts and an imaginative world, between human feelings and the natural world. Working collaboratively with designers and artists, I had the occasion to look at the scientific process with a different perspective. It was no longer only a matter of discovering the underwater environment but it became an initial step that - with the contamination of arts - could encourage people to care about it. I will be happy in the future to get involved into a participative process that leads to reflection on the link between human, social, artistic and environmental issues.



CITY SCIENCE FOR URBAN CHALLENGES Pilot assessment and future potential of the City Science Initiative 2 019 – 2 0 2 0

The pilot of the City Science

CSI lead cities:

CSI cities network:

European Commission:

Initiative is developed with the




support of Charlina Vitcheva,

(Ovidiu Cimpean),



Deputy Director General JRC, and




Patrick Child, Deputy Director

(Thomas Jacob, Stefanie Wodrig),



General R&I.




(Marie Monjauze),



Reggio Emilia


DG Research & Innovation,

(Elena De Nictolis, Christian



Fernando Iaione),






(Panagiotis Bamidis)

Glasgow, Groningen,



Peter Bosch


Marie Yeroyanni


Pia Laurila


Roel Raterink Javier Gomez David Garcia Alvarez

Madrid, Malmö, Marseille, Milan, Munich, Nijmegen, Oxford, Prague, Rome, Rotterdam, Sofia, Stockholm, Vejle, Vienna, Warsaw

VFS_Cahier2.indb 224

27/11/2020 10:03


16 CITY SCIENCE Between January 2019 and July 2020, over 35 European cities formed the City Science Initiative (CSI) to explore how the science-policy interface operates in light of the emergent urban challenges and crises. It seems that the impact of current national and EU funded research funded programs needs to be enhanced for tackling cities urban challenges. This report aims to inspire people in municipalities, universities, networks, different layers of government and the European Commission to develop a variety of science-policy interfaces for handling of urban challenges in the near future. The CSI pilot collaboration has brought together European small, medium and large sized cities, different services of the European Commission, different networks of cities and funding programmes. The gathered City Science Officers reflected on what they need and exchanged current practice and insight. To bridge the existing gap between science and policy, new methodologies need to be developed in all phases of the research process. The report argues that design as a discipline can help to build bridges, solutions and communication strategies for such science-policy interfaces.


Report download:

100 Resilient Cities,

Global Convenant of Mayors,


European Network of Living Labs


CSI initiator, author:


(ENoLL), European Regions Research and

Innovation Network (ERRIN),


European Union Knowledge


Network (EUKN), EUROCITIES, UN Global Sustainability Index

Prof. dr. Caroline Nevejan

Chin-Lien Chen (Office of CC)


Chief Science Officer, Amsterdam

Visual Communication Designer

International Urban Cooperation,

Prof. dr. Caroline Nevejan is a re-

After receiving her degree at the

searcher and designer who has been

Rhode Island School of Design,

involved with the emerging network

Chin-Lien Chen went on to practice

Institute Foundation (UNGSII),

JPI Urban Europe, Thinknature, Network of Universities from Capitals of Europe (UNICA), URBACT, Fab Lab Cities Association (Alumni of H2020 icapital award of innovation), ECTP (European Construction Technology Platform), EIB (European Investment bank)

society and digital culture since the

design in New York City at the global

1980's. Nevejan is a regular present-

design consultancy, 2x4. There­

er at national and international fora.

after, she started her own practice in

She is an advisor to national and

Amsterdam solving visual commu-

European policy makers.

nication problems for clients from different sectors.

As of 20th of March 2017 Caroline Nevejan has been appointed Chief Science Officer of the city of Amsterdam. She is professor by special appointment with the Amsterdam School for Social Science Research, University of Amsterdam (20182023). Nevejan curates the parallel

Chen writes occasionally on design related topics for publications such as Eye Magazine, Morf and Monsterkamer. She also develops and curates a series of design talks, ‘UX Beyond Vision’, for UX Amsterdam on design for the senses.

research programme of the Dutch contribution to the 17th Architecture Biennale of Venice 2020/2021.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 225

27/11/2020 10:03





100 Resilient Cities



Helping cities around the world

ICLEI – Local Governments for

Leads the European Commission’s

become more resilient to physical,

Sustainability is a global network of

efforts to fight climate change at EU

social, and economic shocks and

more than 1,750 local and regional

and international level.


governments committed to sustaina-

Covenant of Mayors The Covenant of Mayors is the world’s largest movement for local climate and energy actions.

ble urban development. International Urban Cooperation The International Urban Cooperation

DG CNECT Responsible to develop a digital single market to generate smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in Europe.

(IUC) programme, funded by EU,


European Network of Living Labs

supports the achievement of bilateral

Responsible for the EU’s energy


policy objectives, as well as major

policy: secure, sustainable, and com-

The European Network of Living Labs

international agreements on urban

petitively priced energy for Europe.

(ENoLL) is the international federation

development and climate change.

of benchmarked Living Labs in Europe and worldwide.

Responsible for EU policy on the envi-

JPI Urban Europe was created to


European Regions Research and

address the global urban challenges of

Innovation Network (ERRIN)

today with the ambition to develop a

Brussels-based network supporting

European research and innovation hub

regional and local stakeholders to

on urban matters and create Europe-

develop their innovation ecosystems

an solutions by means of coordinated

and to enhance research and innova-


tion capacities.


JPI Urban Europe


DG GROW Responsible for EU policy on the single market, industry, entrepreneurship and small businesses. DG MOVE Responsible for EU policy on mobility and transport.

European Union Knowledge

ThinkNature project, part of Horizon

Network (EUKN)

2020, aims to develop a platform that

DG Research & Innovation

The European Urban Knowledge Net-

supports the understanding and the

Responsible for EU policy on research,

work (EUKN) is the only independent

promotion of Nature-Based Solutions.

science and innovation, with a view to

EU Member State driven network in the field of urban policy, research and practice.

UNICA: Network of Universities from Capitals of Europe UNICA is an institutional network of

help create growth and jobs and tackle our biggest societal challenges. DG REGIO


53 universities from 37 capital cities

Responsible for EU policy on regions

EUROCITIES is the network of

of Europe.

and cities.



URBAC T is a European exchange and

Manages several EU programmes in

learning programme promoting sus-

the fields of SME support & innova-

tainable urban development, helping

tion, environment, climate action,

UN Global Sustainability Index

cities to develop pragmatic solutions

energy and maritime affairs.

Institute Foundation (UNGSII)

that are new and sustainable and that


integrate economic, social and envi-

created to assist and accelerate the

ronmental urban topics.

major European cities; its members are the elected local and municipal governments of major European cities.

implementation process of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

VFS_Cahier2.indb 226

JRC The European Commission’s science and knowledge service which employs scientists to carry out research in order to provide independent scientific advice and support to EU policy.

27/11/2020 10:03



Data visualisation design: Office of CC โ ข Map source: Vecteezy



< 25.0 0 0

> 25 0.0 0 0 < 1.0 0 0.0 0 0




Reggio Emilia

> 1.0 0 0.0 0 0


7 Cork

1 Antwerp

26 Rotterdam

2 Barcelona

8 Dubrovnik

4 Brno

28 Stockholm

3 Berlin

12 Groningen

6 Copenhagen


14 Leuven

9 Espoo


22 Nijmegen

10 Gent

17 Madrid

Hamburg Paris

5 Brussels 11 Glasgow

23 Oxford

13 Helsinki

20 Milan

29 Vejle

15 Lisbon

21 Munich

30 Vienna

16 Lublin

24 Prague

18 Malmรถ

25 Rome

19 Marseille

27 Sofia 31 Warsaw

VFS_Cahier2.indb 227

27/11/2020 10:03




Today 75% of the nearly 450 million Europeans live in cities. Cities have developed into dynamic and complex social, physical, technological and ecological communities. This has happened to such an extent that it is becoming increasingly demanding for scientists to research modern urban challenges. Cities are pioneering in responding to these challenges by designing and implementing evidence-based policies and by participating in ground breaking research for identifying new solutions. In the context of increased urbanisation, cities are essential hubs for the implementation of global and European innovations and for citizens’ engagement in policy decisions and citizen science. Cities are the home of complex, interlinked challenges related to climate change, pollution, energy efficiency, urban mobility, water, waste, food and resource efficiency, health and well-being and societal innovation. The battle for a better future can be won in our cities by working together through all sectors and layers of society, to accelerate the transition to inclusive, resilient, safe, climate-proof and resource-efficient ecosystems. It requires research, innovation and investment to harness and to inspire as well as for young people to participate. This is at the core of the proposed European Green Deal, the digital transition and the Recovery and Resilience Plan. This is also in line with the Urban Agenda for the EU and the Habitat III Global Agenda. Innovating institutional capacities to solve common problems, find solutions and ensure a strong knowledge and research function within local governments is necessary to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent. The time has come to orchestrate and harness our collective intelligence. Between January 2019 and July 2020 the City of Amsterdam took the initiative to execute a substantial pilot collaboration framework that brought together 35 European cities, different services of the European Commission and other key stakeholders including networks and funding programmes. Over the course three plenary meetings and five online thematic workshops, participants explored how the science-policy interface at the urban level currently operates and could be improved. This marked the beginning of the City Science Initiative (CSI). This self-organizing, informal network showed that collaboration and seeking coherence is possible, identified some of the key obstacles and challenges to creating engagement between cities, universities and European institutions, and proved the need for orchestrating critical reflection on current policies and research outcomes. The experience of the CSI indicates that cities are in direct need for more research and innovation to face upcoming challenges and take necessary steps towards sustainability. ‘Just-in-time’ research can make a significant

VFS_Cahier2.indb 228

27/11/2020 10:03



difference. Yet it also shows that the interaction between research and policy is not a given success. Science and policy communities speak different languages and many cities experience fragmented research. While the 20 years of European Research funding has generated many collaborations, professionals and decision-makers often do not get the research they need, while NOTE

embedded and direct relationships * Also between major institutions such as the Euro­ pean Commission and cities need to be further

academics operate too much in isolation and do not align their research with the cities’ needs.*

enhanced to support the already created and

To improve the interaction between research and policy, results of research

existing network of almost 300 cities in the EU

and potential tools and guidelines need to be made available in accessible

and globally, participating in ongoing Horizon 2020 demonstration projects, not just as end-

ways for citizens and city officials. It is the research community, with the

users but as co-designers and co-implement-

help of the European Commission, that can make results available for cities

ers of innovative urban planning solutions.

in such a way that they can be used and benefitted from. This requires a collective effort with significant investment and with central guidance and support. A design and cross-sectorial approach is essential for making such collaborations relevant to all involved. A more direct interface between European cities and the European Commission services is necessary for being able to deal with the challenges that cities face. The CSI initiative shows there is a shared need and willingness from both professionals in EU institutions and networks and from city and regional experts to interact closely on research and urban challenges. It also demonstrates that the European Commission is ready and able to play its role as a partner in working on multi-level governance issues such as city science. The CSI can play a significant role in the decade to come in which planetary boundaries will cause a cascade of crises which will affect life in cities and of European citizens significantly. Building capacity in today's and next generation of students to be able to handle this stacking of crises and to be capable to apply scientific knowledge and methodologies to the crises, will make a significant difference. With its unique and necessary focus on science and policy, the CSI wants to continue as a networking point and forum where City Science Officers from different European cities meet. They are the key players that can help cities deal with the research-policy gap. A direct interface between them and the European Commission, and with the support of the different networks, is needed to make sure that European research can substantially contribute to the practical challenges of today in the EU. This does not only help cities to face the challenges ahead, but also offers a possibility for the Commission and the networks to demonstrate in a concrete manner how the European dimension can help citizens to improve their daily realities and living conditions.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 229

27/11/2020 10:03




Data visualisation design: Office of CC

2 018 2 019


VFS_Cahier2.indb 230

27/11/2020 10:03



TE STIMO N I A L S Global Covenant of Mayors


Innovation on the ground

Developing Urban Lab methodologies & Science

The findings of the CSI report strongly resonate the chal-

Policy dialogues

lenges that were put forward by GCOMs Innovate4Cities

Eurocities shares the same vision and level of ambition of

initiative. A better sharing of data, tools, best practices and

CSI. Urban challenges are complex and interconnected

the adoption of a joint narrative will be key. As cities are at

and nobody can solve them by working alone. We need to

the forefront of tackling climate change we strive to further

leverage the potential of the research community to direct

invest in assessing city climate mitigation and adaptation

innovation and scientific knowledge towards solution-orient-

strategy knowledge gaps; identifying emergent urban policy

ed approaches. We also believe citizens, civil society and

and development priorities, needs, and innovations ‘on the

the business sector should be part of the dialogue to close

ground’ while accounting for the impacts of COVID-19;

the science-policy gaps and to drive the urban transi­tion

and validating and refining regional priorities into actionable

towards greener, digital and inclusive cities. At Eurocities

knowledge via stakeholder participation. Moving towards

we are already experimenting with urban lab methodologies

resilient, sustainable and liveable cities Implementation of

and testing models to facilitate science-policy dialogues. We

a Research&Innovation agenda will involve cross-sectoral

are creating the space for city policy makers to present

partnerships and the development of global and regional

the urban challenges they face to the research community

research and innovation priorities that respond to the needs

and all the other stakeholders to co-create solutions. We

of cities.

support the CSI and look forward to increased synergies

Jorn Verbeeck Head of Research & Innovation Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy

and cooperation. Eurocities, the network of 140 European cities, share CSI’s ambition and is working in the same direction of connecting urban knowledge and expertise with the view to find solutions to complex urban issues.

UNICA Research, teaching and service to society on urban challenges Creating synergies between cities and universities are of utmost importance for many reasons. Today’s students are tomorrow’s scientists and citizens, thus it is our interest to make them conscious and sensitive to urban challenges […] Urban universities are institutions of higher learning that are socially involved and serve as resources for educating the citizens and improving the health of the cities or regions in which they are located. In this sense, we support our members so that they can be ‘of’ the city as well as act ‘in’ and ‘for’ the city. Universities, especially in capitals, have a unique position in focussing their activities related to research, teaching and service to society on urban challenges, and, at the end of the day, can foster knowledge sharing in their entire region and country […] UNICA is delighted to support the City Science Initiative and calls for strengthening collaboration between our Member Universities and their cities. UNIC A is an institutional network of 53 urban universities of mostly capital cities of Europe, combining over 175,000 staff and 1,950,000 students.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 231

27/11/2020 10:03






Cities are not only in need of more

Universities and local government

The City Science Initiative could

research on the urban challenges they

make use of differing languages,

develop into a Community of Prac­

are facing, they are also in need of a

processes and quality assessments.

tice of City Science Officers: a

better connection with science and

In addition to this, there are com-

community of people sharing expe-

a better understanding of available

munication-issues between different

riences from their work practice

research. To bridge the gap between

departments that are involved, in both

and developing new knowledge from

research institutions and local govern-

governments and universities. There-

this cooperation, similar to the way

ment one has to take into account

fore it is difficult to come to better

in which scientists form communi-

their different needs: where univer­

cooperation and effective communica-

ties of practice. The community of

sities insist on independence, local

tion is a given bottleneck issue. Also,

practice can develop a shared lan-

governments prioritize political

it requires substantial orchestration

guage and shared concepts to es-

respon­sibilities and specific solutions.

and investments of human capital to

tablish a new research paradigm for

This also means that definitions of

design effective and in-practice

city science: fundamental research

‘academic excellence’ in universities

collab­­oration between policy and re-

across the board, including both

provide targets which are not direct­ly

search. How to deal with the vast

alpha beta and gamma sciences.

commensurable with the targets

supply of research and how to dis­

This scientific angle can also contrib-

of local government, where academic

close it effectively? It is also not

ute to the elaboration of qualitative

research is judged by its societal

always considered a priority to work

analysis, identification of knowledge

impact, which is difficult to measure.

together, both in government as in

gaps, elaboration and improvement

Governance also implies financing.

academics. One of the ways to come

of human-centred co-creation pro-

Even though both local government

to better cooperation between

cesses aiming at situating citizens at

and universities are funded by public

science and policy, is to better under-

the centre of urban policy-making.

money, financing happens through dif-

stand existing best practices. One

Furthermore, what is the relation

fering channels. It is therefore often

of the aims of the City Science Initia-

between the university and the city

difficult to find a common ground. Fi-

tive is to collect these best practices

and how can knowledge and data

nancial instruments should allow more

and to promote the importance of

be shared? At this point, only few

space for research that is relevant to

city science, amongst others on the

researchers are trained to answer

local challenges. Also, having a single

political level.

these types of questions. This new

point of contact for research coopera-

form of research should be trans­

tion in local governments can contrib-

disciplinary and aim at urban soci-

ute to finding a common ground.

etal impact. City science is distinct in its methodologies, standardization, assessment valorisation and focus on agenda setting and impact.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 232

27/11/2020 10:03





Second CSI Conference Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions, Amsterdam Cities map and reflect on how they locally organize collaboration between municipalities, universities and other stakeholders in the region. policy-research interface and collaboration.


VFS_Cahier2.indb 233



Reggio Emilia


27/11/2020 10:03








• Circular value chains and waste flows

optimisation. • Administrative burden reduction and

inter-territorial cooperation for circular economy. • Digital transformation to improve the

effectiveness of circular economy action.

• The most effective methods and tools

• How to integrate emerging questions

to foster the shift of people to more

into regulatory air quality monitor-

sustainable transport modes in urban

ing? Emerging pollutants/impacts on


human health or environment /which

• Engaging the citizens in sustainable

urban mobility through culture and innovation. • Digital tools that can make urban mo-

bility more efficient and sustainable. • Forming a Scientific Advisory Board

on sustainable mobility, creating a process of knowledge exchange using data-based evidences.

tools and at which cost? • Forecasting and measuring the impact

of air pollution reduction actions: how

can new tools and methods contribute? Multi-sectoral approach (Mobility, urbanism, wood heaters and fuel, maritime, ...). • How to involve citizens through

engagement, education and communication.

Vienna To do the homework of building bridges We are very happy with this initiative,

projects, which are living in a bubble,

all the energy, to go on this way, it is

often far away from the issues in the

worth it. The last year we have been

cities. We have to develop different

trying to do the homework. To deal

instruments and be more precise and

with the universities and the munici-

concrete what we need. This demands

pality and to find solutions. There is a

money and organization.

big gap. The gap is also that there is a group researchers, who have a lot of answers, but these answers often do not fit the questions of the city. This has to do with the logic of the EU

VFS_Cahier2.indb 234

Christian Wurm Head of Section Research, Technology and Innovation; Department for Economic Affairs, Labour and Statistics City of Vienna

27/11/2020 10:03






Reggio Emilia


• Provision of digital infrastructures in

underserved neighbourhoods. • Rethinking of housing units as a social

infrastructure that combine personal life with work, education and healthcare for households. • Districts as meta-neighbourhoods

(i.e. agglomeration of two or more neighbourhoods) and thus as social and economic collective urban business units where local ingenuity is leveraged to define a strategic plan

• How can we optimise access to mental

health and well-being infrastructures

Marseille From transmission of scientific knowledge to participatory and interdisciplinary governance

in big and small Cities (insufficient

supported by science

access, shortage of staff, shortage

CSI has proved that science can

of residency slots, ways and levels of

inform local policy decisions in many


areas, even if there are still obstacles

• Methods, tools and data to properly

coordinate the provision of mental health and well-being and psychiatric/ social care services in Cities (including social isolation in case of pandemics). • Engagement to maximise resilience

to overcome to improve science-policy interface. Moreover, the problems of our cities are increasingly global and require a systemic approach, necessarily interdisciplinary, inviting researchers to engage in ‘action research’ approaches, involving them

sanctioned in public-private-com-

of cities (including resilience and

in the writing of local policies and

munity partnerships for the use of

preparedness in case of pandemics)?

their implementation, or experiment-

science and technology for urban

Is there a role for co-creation and

ing the new sustainable socio-eco-

sustainable development.

co-design approaches ? What is a

nomic models that can also lead to

human-centred city in terms of men-

questioning laws and regulations.

• Use of science and technology to

preserve or leverage local industrial and commercial units and transform

tal health and well-being?

The City of Marseille has largely expe­

• Mental health and diversity needs in

rienced this approach, particularly

them into lynchpins for urban sustain-

Cities confronting COVID19 or other

for the management of its natural

able development (e.g. social inno-

pandemic and recovery measures for

land and marine areas, by inventing

vation centres and innovation hubs

people and economy. City-wide social

methods of dialogue between re-

for new demand responsive, tailor


searchers and citizens in which

made and flexible urban services and infrastructure).

• Effects of social distancing and

isolation due to quarantine in cognitive and physical capacity and brain functioning (in vulnerable groups, general public, professionals) and the likely role of assistive innovative solutions combining technological, digital, social, cultural, financial, governance and nature- based innovations.

elected officials adopt new positions. Marseilles therefore proposes CSI to launch exchanges between cities on the many methodological and political issues that arise: setting up multidisciplinary teams, barriers of scientific languages, co-construction of shared knowledge, interdisciplinary methodologies, IT and territorial creativity, impact on regulations, evaluation methods, reluctance to overcome on the part of certain elected officials and researchers, perpetuation, capitalization, training and reproducibility of experiences, methods and tools... Jean-Charles Lardic Director of Foresight City of Marseille

VFS_Cahier2.indb 235

27/11/2020 10:03






Data visualisation design: Office of CC




Nevejan C. 2020. City Science. In Values for

This graph offers an impression of the differ-

between all stakeholders and participants

ent steps that characterize classical trajec­

about the different steps in relation to one

Survival, Katern 4, Cahier 1. Complimenta-

tories the fields of research, policy and design.

another, is vital for success in any specific

ry research program to Dutch contribution

However, in city science trajectories where

trajectory (Nevejan 2020).

to 17th Architecture Biennale in Venice. Het

research, policy and design collaborate and integrate, a variety of trajectories through these steps is possible. The yellow lines suggest such possibilities. Good communication

VFS_Cahier2.indb 236

Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam. Nevejan C. 2020. Exploring City Science. In Seeing the City, Amsterdam University Press.

27/11/2020 10:03





A new narrative about science has emerged. For over a 100 years, dynamics of separation and specialization have defined the development of the sciences. Acceleration in the specialization has resulted in amazing technologies which have changed the planet. However, in the many crises that have hit the world in the last decade, the need for integration of different kinds of knowledge is very strong. Most people now realize we are one world in which your local dynamics define my local dynamics and more. New formats and interfaces for how research and cities work together, have emerged. This has affected funding structures, career paths and institutional dynamics. Top down and bottom up research and development now easily go hand in hand since interactive policymaking in government and in academic context has been embraced. These days the local is on top of the hierarchy and networks and institutions serve the people in cities and regions alike. Local resilience to climate crises is nurtured, building upon insight from many other places. Results of scientific research are formulated in such a way that lay people in cities can use the insight for their own life and neighbourhood. The sciences have adapted and developed a plethora of new methodologies for working with people in cities and regions. Co-creating scenarios, developing tools and research for just in time solutions, bridging disciplines and crafts, knowledge production has become a process all are involved with. Not only policymaking is very much evidence based now, also most personal strategies for well-being and survival are rooted in scientific evidence today. In this transition from a consumer society where most people expect others to be responsible for their well-being, to a knowledge society in which most individuals are capable to take care and accept responsibility for what happens next, specific bridges of communication have been constructed. One of these networks was the network of City Science Officers, who became very good at identifying the next future challenge and accelerated in sharing new research and best practices at the right time with the right people. Every city and every region, as a conglomerate of smaller cities, has invested in creating a City Science Office. Here citizens, policymakers, SME’s, designers and researchers work together to make solutions for local challenges at hand. The many City Science Offices are connected with each other and they are supported by larger specialized networks, European and other international institutions who now carefully listen to their needs. Working from a strong knowledge base, and guided by urgent day-to-day needs in cities, the cities have orchestrated their collaborations in such a way that basic exchange of knowledge on solutions for making things work, is available at all times for all.

VFS_Cahier2.indb 237

27/11/2020 10:03

VFS_Cahier2.indb 238

27/11/2020 10:03

Colophon Parallel Research Program, The Netherlands Contribution 17th International Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia 2020 Editors: Caroline Nevejan & Jane da Mosto, Editors Huda AbiFarès, Editorial Design Editorial team: Marco Moretto, Eleonora Savrini, Zola Can, Pinar Sefkatli. Publisher: Het Nieuwe Instituut (HNI) Digital & print editions Published: December 2020 Partners: City of Amsterdam We are here Venice Cahiers downloads: Creative Commons License: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA) Nevejan C., Da Mosto J., & AbiFarès H., (eds.), 2020. Values for Survival, Cahier 2, Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam.

ISBN Cahier 2: 9789083015248

VFS2020_Cahier2_Cover_Sinf.indd 4

30/11/2020 16:11

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.