About the Programme
This intensive course in contemporary urbanism takes the modern city as its subject and Rotterdam as its testing ground. It will explore the urban dynamics by bringing together different disciplines from historical research to artistic expression, using Rotterdam as a pars-pro-toto for cities all over the world.
Once unknown and misunderstood, the city of Rotterdam is now more popular than ever. Iconic buildings, bars and restaurants pop-up all around town, making it an attractive destination for tourists, students and other visitors from all around the world. The population is growing, house prices are on the rise and the development of new urban districts is in full swing. In less than two decades the city has changed from a harsh and grim -yet poetic- place to a smooth and attractive city that is loved and today is even called hospitable and pleasant.
But no matter how charming the city presents itself, no matter how modern or popular it is, it owes - contrarily enough – a large part of its attractivity to its sharp edges; its attraction lies not exactly in being able to offer what you are looking for, but in what it confronts you with unexpectedly: the surprises, the jagged fringes and the opportunities they bring. The city is a real city because it always offers more than what you asked for. It is the darker side that makes her more than a small town. The city is old, dirty and beautiful at the same time. That’s why we love her, why we want to nurture her.
Yet, at the same time, there are still many serious issues in this city that are problematic. Just like other world cities, Rotterdam has to come to terms with social inequality and spatial segregation, with drugs crime and human trafficking, with pollution and environmental degradation. The city has been part of a global network since her origins and shares these issues with cities worldwide such as Hong Kong or Baltimore, Athens or Accra. Her problems are not unique, but can we devise unique strategies to solve them?
During this 12-week course, we will dive into the inescapable contradictions and complexities of the contemporary city. Looking beyond the present-day popularity of Rotterdam, we aim to see the city as she really is and as we can imagine her becoming. We will use research, stories and strategies, use all possible means from contemporary urbanism and act!
The Independent School for the City is a brand new one-year international education program for post-graduate students in the field of design, planning, sociology, history etc. It has its epicenter in the heart of Rotterdam, in the development area Central District. The school is rooted in the practice of Crimson Architectural Historians and ZUS (Zones Urbaines Sensibles) of combining a critical, activist approach to the city with effecting real change through architectural and planning projects. Blurring the line between critique and practice, research and policy and a strong belief in an incremental instead of a tabula rasa approach to city planning.