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Urban Labs – from plan to implementation
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Urban Labs – from plan to implementation

13 October 2016

In 2015, UN-Habitat and Creative Industries Fund NL initiated a collaboration that involves giving 20 designers the opportunity to work with partners in five Urban Labs on assignments in Accra (Ghana), Mexico City (Mexico), Yangon (Myanmar), Gaza (Palestine) and Tacloban (the Philippines). With the Architecture Biennale in Venice taking ‘Reporting from the Front’ as its theme, it was the ideal place to organize an expert meeting for designers, stakeholders in the various projects (except for Gaza) and key figures from UN-Habitat to share experiences and explore the subsequent steps for these projects. Halfway through the year-long Urban Labs process, the question of how to make the step from plan to implementation together with local stakeholders raises its head. It is a difficult step in areas where the geographical situation and the climate are not always favourable, or in areas that are faced with complex political, legal and economic circumstances. Despite the complexity of the assignments, the design teams have thrown themselves into the various tasks with great alacrity, so a great deal has already been achieved in six months.
A report by Marieke Berkers from the Urban Labs expert meeting in Venice on 31 May 2016.

Pressure on the city
One of today’s great challenges is the huge pressure on cities all around the world. More and more people want to live in cities, which often results in an unbridled, high-speed and unplanned process of urbanization. If there are already plans for these areas they are often re-active in nature. What’s more, you can’t solve everything on the drawing board, but usually there is too little consideration for implementation phase, which is where the Urban Labs are turning their focus. Besides looking at planning and design, there is plenty of consideration for legislation and financial instruments. For plans to have any chance of success they must focus on a value-generating process. The ambition is to strive for compact, integrated and joined-up cities that are able to withstand the changing climate.
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The five cities that the design teams are working on can also expect huge inflows of residents over the coming decades, often people with limited means. In the majority of cities this growth is so rapid that designers, planners and the government can barely keep pace with developments. In Accra, for example, over the coming 30 years the city with a current radius of 10 kilometres will sprawl into an urban agglomeration with a radius of 60 kilometres. The population will mushroom from 2.5 million to 4.2 million in 2020. The Ningo-Prampram district must accommodate a portion of this growth, so UN-Habitat initiated a National Priority Project there. Expansion of a similar nature is underway in Myanmar. After the social and political renewal that has taken place in recent years, large-scale growth is now expected in about 200 towns and cities. The Htantabin township of the regional capital of Yangon will have to accommodate about 2.4 to 2.7 million new inhabitants.

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Framework

Cities like Accra and Yangon are in many respects very different, but the problems around urbanization issues are often generic in nature. For Accra as well as for Yangon, there is a lack of capacity, resources and data to choreograph the growth in a more carefully planned and organized manner. This means that devising a detailed and definitive design for a new city or district is unrealistic. The recasting of legislation or generation of resources for development prior to the growth actually taking place is impossible because of the rate of growth. New planning legislation is being formulated in Myanmar, but in the meantime the pressure on the cities remains unprecedented. A good plan takes time, but time isn’t always available: ‘Learning by doing’ has become the motto in Myanmar. This is why the Urban Labs have focused on devising a framework that is robust, but at the same time allows leeway for a flexible use of space.

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How can you ensure that urban design does not become a template when projects are very similar in their approach? The answer is to consider which problems are specific to a particular area. A framework can be designed so that it anticipates future issues in a locality. Htantabin, for example, is faced with the threat of flooding, traffic congestion, and an inadequate water supply, in addition to which there is land speculation (sometimes illegal). Instead of focusing on the individual problems, these issues can be tackled with the aid of an all-embracing masterplan. A similar approach applies for Accra, where Ningo-Prampram lies in a zone prone to flooding, and this can be accommodated in a masterplan. In Mexico City there is a densification task, which must offer a solution for a city that is constantly sprawling, increasingly inaccessible and beset by increasing pollution. Here the economic and legal renewal that is already planned can serve as a driving force to introduce more qualities in the spatial sphere. By putting your mind to it flexibly, you can intelligently coordinate several (existing) ambitions. This helps to maintain speed in the development process. For example, the Mexico team is looking into the existing legislation and is investigating which development strategy is most appropriate in that context.

The design of public space is a priority in all these cases. The team that is working in Accra is the most explicit about fulfilling this ambition. Normally speaking investors invest in homes, but in Accra the plan proceeds from shared spaces and amenities, which will prompt investors to invest in them. This will contribute to the creation of inclusive cities where improved accessibility means that residents can live close to their place of work or that good education is available to all youngsters.

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Check on the ground

According to the design team from Ghana the key is to strike a good balance: Establish a solid framework and carry out a check on the ground. Working with local parties and organizations provides specific knowledge which can be used in the planning and implementation phases. The team that is working on the case in the Philippines initially concentrated on planning and designing the reconstruction, which in the wake of Typhoon Yolanda in 2013 is of major importance. But during a field visit the team saw that a great many projects for housing construction and infrastructure had already been started. Instead of starting from zero it is therefore best to organize ongoing projects into a more cohesive whole. The team is primarily providing advice and is focusing on the city of Tacloban. This city is expanding thanks to the great influx of people who are leaving the countryside, despite it being situated in a high-risk area for typhoons. Some 42 of the 138 districts in this city can expect to hit by about 20 typhoons per year. An advantage of the hands-on approach of working ‘on the ground’ is that local planners can contribute while at the same time receiving training with regard to skills and methodology. Particularly in countries where experience with planning and design is lacking, this way of working creates opportunities for the augmentation of knowledge. UN-Habitat has therefore explicitly included the training objective in the design process, as in Myanmar.

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Implementation

Design alone does not, however, result in the implementation of projects. During the expert meeting, the Executive Director of UN-Habitat, Dr Joan Clos, underscored that securing political support is essential for implementation. Various cases demonstrate that it is often necessary to operate at a national level when undertaking the step to implementation. In Ghana, for example, discussions with local stakeholders made it clear that involving locals, all the way up to the president, is essential for the project’s chances of success. It is not immediately evident to everyone that a sound urban development plan or masterplan can bring about economic and social added value. The strength of the design plays an important role in the translation from planning to implementation. Similarly important is the way in which a designer conveys a strategy in different forums, such as the political realm, policy-making and the world of real estate and communicates the importance of adding value within the process of urbanization.

Working in a participatory process, which involves as many stakeholders as possible, is therefore an important basic principle for the Urban Labs. Even in areas where conflicts are structural, such as Gaza in Palestine, this methodology can lead to fruitful results. Here the Urban Lab focused on Khuza’a, an area that the international community usually sidelines when planning for reconstruction. It is difficult to work there, because of the Hamas leadership and because of the extreme restrictions imposed by Israel. A party like UN-Habitat is crucial as a partner when trying to organize reconstruction in such a region. In Khuza’a the local partners already have plans that are elaborated in detail. There is therefore a great need for a strategy for their execution. People often live in temporary shelters or in houses that have been left in ruins after the fighting. At the same time the community continues to grow because of the arrival of displaced persons from areas in Palestine where the fighting is intensifying. Efforts are now being made to create a masterplan under the motto ‘Build Back Better’, a blueprint that is sufficiently robust to withstand logistical problems and a lack of resources. The urgent need for greater quality in accommodation and living standards means that local parties are keen to participate.

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Reporting from the Front

The translation from plan to implementation still has a long way to go for all the projects run by the Urban Labs. The UN-Habitat stamp, which the Urban Labs are permitted to use, helps to open doors in high-level political circles. By deploying an open and participative process from the very start, and developing legal and financial instruments as well as sitting at the drawing board, implementation is made the name of the game from the word go. Timing is a key element in this regard. The methodology of the labs then has a greater chance of success and can thus set an example for tackling similar tasks in the countries where the teams are currently operating.

That is precisely why it was so important to share the interim results and experiences at the Biennale in Venice. The tasks and methodologies of the Urban Labs dovetail closely with the theme of the 2016 edition of the Architecture Biennale, in which director Alejandro Aravena is investigating the architect’s role in the task of improving the living conditions for people all over the world. He is specifically interested in regions where circumstances are extreme because of political, climate-related and economic circumstances – the very regions where the Urban Labs are active. ‘Reporting from the Front’ could therefore be understood literally during the expert meeting: the research into the architect’s role and position in such cases was critically questioned and defined using real-life examples. The designer’s task in all these projects extends beyond the (re)definition of a task, amassing expertise and devising a design proposal. In the labs the designers are compelled to establish a position in other realms, such as politics, law, defence and policy, which in vulnerable areas often play a crucial role alongside design itself in the translation to implementation. The new knowledge that was yielded by experiences in these realms was discussed and shared extensively in Venice. The labs also called for a great deal of opportunity, flexibility and perseverance from the designers. For example, the team in Ghana has undergone a remarkable transformation over the last half year. At the start of the process it was somewhat reserved in its approach, because of the complexity and considerable scale of the task. However, as the project progressed the knowledge of and familiarity with the way of working increased, so the designers eventually formulated a proposal for the location together with the stakeholders, based on their role as designers but with plenty of confidence in its appropriateness. The sharing of experiences with respect to the positioning and widening of the design discipline fostered an enrichment and widening of knowledge, for the designers involved as well as for UN-Habitat and the local stakeholders in the various projects. This sharing and augmentation of knowledge on a global level means that there is a greater chance of projects succeeding in other part of the world where circumstances are complex.

You can see the five teams that were selected in the context of this cooperation here.

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Selection Open Calls Internationalization: Turkey, Russia, Egypt and Morocco #1

4 May 2018

Last December, the Fund issued four different open calls where Dutch designers and cultural organizations were invited to submit a project plan for a project, intervention or process that deploys design for sustainable and inclusive urbanization in Turkey, Morocco, Egypt or Russia. An interdisciplinary committee with expertise in the countries concerned made a selection from 56 proposals.
The 16 selected projects offer opportunities that include improving living conditions and social cohesion, working together with different target groups, utilizing technology for social innovation and exploring new meanings of cultural heritage. This selection provides an initial impulse for setting up and reinforcing collaborations between makers in the four countries and the Netherlands. Where knowledge is developed and shared for the challenges associated with urbanization.

The number of submissions for this first series of open calls was high and almost evenly distributed over the four countries, with Russia standing out with 20 applications. There were also 13 applications for Morocco, 12 for Egypt and 11 for Turkey. Per country, 4 projects were selected for the first phase, with the option for submitting a follow-up application for the second phase.

The following stood out in the submissions per country:
Turkey

The submissions for Turkey related to both large and small cities, instead of a mono-focus on Istanbul. This distribution of projects over the country makes the proposals interesting and sometimes surprising. A total of 11 applications is a modest harvest of entries, considering the long-standing relationships between the Netherlands and Turkey in the cultural sphere, and the challenges associated with urbanization in Turkey. One possible explanation is that the aim is to achieve collaborations with the local authorities and that is particularly challenging. The composition of the teams and expertise turned out to match only in varying degrees the themes and objectives of the projects, on both the Dutch and Turkish sides. The balance in reciprocity, the relevance of the issue and the approach was good in the selected projects. How collaboration and reciprocity are to be safeguarded and organized in the subsequent course of the projects requires further development for the second phase. The partnerships were the deciding factor for the selection of projects in Turkey.

selected projects Turkey:
Lüleburgaz Bisiklette Biniyor, cycling for a better city
Artgineering/ Novusens/ Sustainable Solutions
Toroslar Interactive CityLab
Ekim Tan, Play the City
PALANGA, Turkish and Dutch Farming Practices Learn from each other
IND International
Izmir Metabolic Cycling Network (IMCN)
Fabrications

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Izmir Metabolic Cycling Network (MCN), FABRICations and WRI Turkey
Russia

Geographically, the applications were very widespread, from Moscow to Siberia and even Svobodny, towards the borders with China and Japan. This is an interesting and positive yield. The level and quality of the applications varied significantly in the 20 submissions for the open call Russia. Several applications focused on ‘mono-towns’. This is the phenomenon of mono-functional cities that in their development – composition of services, economy and inhabitants – specifically focus on a particular industry. In terms of themes, these applications were similar to each other. The differences in approach and method therefore weighed more heavily. Many applications were focused on improving or developing the public space – a development that has recently been utilized in Russian cities. Only a few applications had a distinctive approach to this. One of the reasons for this could be that the same Russian partner, an important player in the development of public space, was often included in the project teams. On the whole, it was noticeable that 2 to 3 Russian partners were frequently mentioned in the applications. A few projects had an extremely good approach with regard to accessing local partners, particularly users, which is one of the greatest challenges in Russia in the area of spatial issues. In general, something that stood out in the budgets was that the hourly rates in Russia are lower in comparison with the rates in the Netherlands. This is a realistic representation and, according to the advisers, it is all the more important to be clear about how the reciprocity has been organized in the collaborative relationship. The approach chosen was decisive when selecting the projects in Russia.

selected projects Russia:
Prototyping Future Energy with HSE
Yin Aiwen
LL Tomsk One - Living Laboratory
LEVS Architecten
The 'Samarsky Yard' - Housing Heritage in the Post-Socialist City
Schiemann Weyers
New Urban Media Centre in Yekaterinburg
SVESMI Holding

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New Urban Media Centre in Yekaterinburg, SVESMI HOLDING BV
Egypt

The submissions for Egypt varied in their approach and the issue chosen. Many projects focused on Cairo, despite the fact that Egypt is a large country. It is, after all, the city where many things are centralized, including art and culture. Cairo is certainly the perfect place to start working in Egypt and to build up relationships from there. The strongest applications were to be found on the interface between art, culture and heritage. They are small in terms of set-up and implementation, but great in potential impact and for knowledge development and sharing. There are still opportunities and scope for small-scale projects in Egypt. Large-scale, urban design projects require collaboration with the authorities at national or local level and that is extremely difficult, perhaps even unrealistic, considering the time frame of the projects. However, the committee noted that heritage as a main theme was conspicuously absent in the applications. This is however a very relevant topic in the Egyptian context, for both material and immaterial heritage. A positive aspect is that a few projects made this connection and took up a position towards approaching heritage from a designer's perspective. It was noticeable that one particular local partner appeared several times in different applications. Building up relationships between various Dutch and Egyptian parties appears to be necessary. On the Dutch side, the main applicant or other parties involved appeared to be less well-matched with the theme or approach. From the applications, it emerged that the necessary cultural sensitivity (from the Dutch perspective) of the social context was not always present. This is crucial when working together on the basis of reciprocity. Deciding factors for the selection of projects in Egypt were the relevance of the themes and the partnerships entered into for the purpose.

selected projects Egypt:
Grounded Urban Practices
Non Fiction & Cluster
Darb el Labana Lab
Bureau LADA & LALA Studio
Hope for Embaba
MAATworks
Connecting Deltas
Shift Works

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Darb el Labana Lab, Bureau LADA and LALA Studio
Morocco

Inspiring approaches to themes and collaborations – ranging from establishment to grassroots – characterized the applications focused on Morocco. There was a good geographical spread: Meknes, Casablanca, Rabat, Tanger in the north and Tiznit in the south. Remarkably enough, no projects focused on Marrakech. In terms of themes, various projects differed significantly in their degree of development. A few projects resembled ‘classic’ architectural projects that lay close to project development. In addition, the social or cultural significance and aim of the project were not always very clear. A balanced distribution of the budgets between the Dutch and Moroccan parties was not the case in all of the applications. In many projects, the requested amount for the first phase was intended in its entirety for the Dutch party, without clear insight into the contribution from the Moroccan side. Either in kind or financially. How the reciprocity is organized in the collaboration was already described in some project proposals, but attention is required for further development. In a number of applications, a Dutch team member with Moroccan roots is involved. The Moroccan diaspora is a valuable connection in building relationships and understanding between the Netherlands and Morocco, but also in creating together and sharing knowledge. Deciding factors for the selection of projects in Morocco were the approach to the collaboration and the type of projects (study + pilot).

selected projects Morocco:
Affordable Housing Casablanca
Bureau SLA
PLAY CITY
Network of Research & Architecture BV and MB Paysage
Learning from Tiznit
Slow Matter
Sahrij
Sara Frikech

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PLAYCITY, Network of Research and Architecture BV & MB Paysage
Composition of the committee

Every open call specifically focused on one of the four countries, but they are all part of a single programme. For this reason the choice was made to put together a special committee, which includes experts per country, who are working in one of the fields of the creative industry and are able to think in an interdisciplinary way. The members of the committee are:

Committee chair: Saskia Ruijsink – senior expert Urban Policy and Planning Institute for Housing and urban development studies (IHS).
Advisor Egypt: Nat Muller – curator, writer and art critic specialized in the Arab world.
Advisor Morocco: Hicham Khalidi – curator Rotterdam Triennale 2020, Lafayette Anticipations - Fondation d'entreprise Galerie Lafayette in Paris, former guest curator Marrakech Biennale.
Advisor Russia: Eva Radionova – landscape architect bureau Novascape, curator and project leader Russian-Dutch projects, guest lecturer at the Academy of Architecture Amsterdam.
Advisor Turkey: Aslı Çiçek – architect and guest professor KU Leuven, works in Brussels and Istanbul.
Generalist advisor: Paula Zijp – project funding coordinator at Triodos Foundation, MSc Cultural Anthropology (Sociocultural Transformation).

background

The Creative Industries Fund NL is conducting a four-year programme within the policy framework of the International Culture Policy 2017-2020 (objective 2) with funding from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, entitled ‘Sustainable and inclusive cities through design’. Central to the programme is the role and deployment of design and design thinking to question and provide solutions for rapid urbanization and the corresponding social themes. Cross-disciplinary working with relevant stakeholders in Turkey is encouraged, both within and beyond the design disciplines, where it revolves around providing opportunities for collaboration between Turkey and the Netherlands on an equal footing and strengthening the trust and understanding between the two countries.

Photo above: Grounded Urban Practices, Non Fiction and Cluster

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Looking back at Thursday Night Live! They invented a new machine...

3 May 2018

Last week, Het Nieuwe Instituut and the Creative Industries Fund NL organized Thursday Night Live!. An evening about the technologies and imaginaries of automation, with the five selected projects of the Open Call for the extended program of the Dutch pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2018. The event is one in a series of three where Het Nieuwe Instituut and the Creative Industries Fund NL work together on the Architecture Biennale and WORK BODY LEISURE, the theme of the Dutch pavilion.
A seaman from a disappearing island, an animator in a space devoid of daylight, a monster eating a machine. These were just some of the figures that came along on an evening that focused on the impact of automation and robotization on work, and the spaces in which it takes place. Because, as the projects demonstrate, work will not disappear but will most likely change dramatically under the influence of these developments. After short presentations of the selected projects, the teams entered into a discussion with Marina Otero Verzier, curator of the Dutch pavilion, under the direction of Willem Schinkel, professor of social theory and external advisor of the Open Call.

The five projects were united by a search for the systems, such as logistical systems, which increasingly structure our world, and which are generally not accessible. The Institute of Patent Infringement, founded by Matthew Stewart and Jane Chew, makes the automated future that Amazon is committed to visible, and has written an open call to hack the Amazon patents where this future is portrayed. Shore Leaves, a video installation by Giuditta Vendrame and Paolo Patelli, focuses on the invisible work of the seamen who man the ships in the ports of Rotterdam and Venice, and the spaces they visit during their shore leave. The efficient logistics systems they are a part of, and the engine rooms where their work takes place, are a preview of what awaits us all, we hear in one of the fragments in their installation.
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Thursday Night Live! They invented a new machine... Photo: Matthijs Immink

But, Willem Schinkel wonders, is it even possible to make the invisible logistics systems visible, or have they become too all-encompassing? And if so, is it also possible to appropriate these infrastructures? The Port and the Fall of Icarus by Northscapes explores in a speculative way a series of possible future scenarios for the Port of Rotterdam, and hopes to disrupt the system by creating a moment of alienation. Renderlands, a documentary and installation by Liam Young, goes in search of the render farms and animation studios in India that are largely responsible for the visualizations of Western companies, and asked the workers about their own dreamed-of realities, in order to translate them into a physical installation for the Biennale.

The evening was set to music by a contribution from the fifth team, consisting of Noam Toran with Remco de Jong and Florentijn Boddendijk, who have made a contemporary interpretation of early 20th-century working songs with Songs for Hardworking People, which will provide the soundtrack for the Dutch pavilion.

Willem Schinkel ranks among the sceptics: although the projects demonstrate that automation does not lead to the feared disappearance of work, a multiplication of work is in fact generated that leads to inequality and exploitation. But the projects also show that there really are leads for productive appropriation. Because, as Liam Young states, the systems that are responsible for our production are the same systems that connect people all over the world in the most exceptional ways, and in doing so, make new forms of communality possible.

selection Open Call Venice Architecture Biennale #2 and #3
Next to the selection of the extended program of the Dutch pavilion five more projects were selected in the context of the Open Call Architecture Biennale Venice 2018 #2_development budget and the Open Call Architecture Biennale Venice 2018 #3_presentation budget, who provide a physical, spatial contribution to the exploration of the FREESPACE theme during the Venice Architecture Biennale 2018. With the title FREESPACE, general curators of the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale, Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, address the relation between architecture and society.

next Thursday Night Live!
The 16th edition of the Venice Architecture Biennale will take place from 26 May to 25 November 2018. The Creative Industries Fund and Het Nieuwe Instituut will continue their series of joint events with a reflection on the various explorations of the FREESPACE theme during the Thursday Night Live! on Thursday 5 July 2018.

Text: Sereh Mandias
Photo above: Matthijs Immink

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Looking back at Milan Design Week 2018

2 May 2018

In April, Minister of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) Ingrid van Engelshoven paid a two-day visit to the Milan Design Week 2018. Together with the Dutch consulate, the Fund organized a guided tour to give the minister an impression of the scope and international position of the Dutch design field. Various designers welcomed the minister to their presentations and told about their work. The fair week, which centres on the Salone del Mobile, is the place to be for product and furniture designers to present themselves and meet various professionals from the international design world.
The delegation visited the presentations supported by the Fund via the Open Call Salone del Mobile Milan 2018. In addition, a number of larger, mainly Dutch presentations were seen. The Salone Satellite and Galeria Rossana Orlandi - well-known springboards to an international audience for young designers - and the new location by curator Anne van der Zwaag entitled Bar Anne, were also included in the programme.
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Dutch Invertuals - Mutant Matter
digitalization

Digitalization was a recurring theme in several presentations. The jewellery designs in the presentation 'Device People' by chp...? jewellery explore the increasing use of smartphones and other devices and the impact this has on our lives. Lidewij Edelkoort and Kiki van Eijk, commissioned by Google, are working on a series of products under the name 'Softwear' where a more sensory experience of hardware plays a central role.

Tijs Gilde Studio combines the theme of digitalization with material research and showed a number of designs at Satellite that originated from studies with stones and pigments. 'Counter digital' reacts to a world that is digitalizing more and more. His response to this situation is contra-digital objects arising from material experiments that surprise and stimulate the senses.

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Lidewij Edelkoort and Kiki van Eijk - Softwear
reuse

We find the use and reuse of material with Dutch Invertuals, who are showing new adaptations of residual material from the Anthropocene in 'Mutant Matter'. Théophile Blandet has made a cabinet with polluting plastic that the EU will forbid in the future: a product that will be seen as very 'valuable' in the future. Shahar Livne has developed Lithoplast, a mixture of plastics washed ashore, which she processes to produce altar-like bowls and objects.

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Shahar Livne - Metamorphism: Yulem
health

At Ventura Future, the exhibition Health & Happiness focused entirely on the future of our health and medical care. In the exhibition, designers Johan Viladrich, Nienke Helder, Gerjanne van Gink, Tamara Hoogeweegen, Alissa Rees, Rebekka Evita Strenk and Aurore Brard present projects and designs varying from practical applications for patients to more reflective studies into wellbeing.

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Alissa Rees - IV-Walk (a portable IV-Pole)
craft and craftsmanship

Craft and craftsmanship were given attention at the Crafts Council Nederland and Masterly. The Dutch in Milano. The Crafts Council Nederland organized a workshop in their presentation space for Emma Wessels, Gino Anthonisse and Christa van der Meer and Italian designers Sara Ricciardi, Astrid Luglio and Agustina Bottoni. They were given a lesson in the technique of macramé from an Italian master.

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Crafts Council Nederland - HOW&WOW - cooperazione!
experiment & research

Experiment and research were highlighted by Dutch Invertuals, Better Known As, BELéN and the KABK. At the performative presentation Ready, Set, Go! by collective Better Known As, visitors could not only view the work, but also experience the process of creating the image.

Download the brochure here with more information about the 11 presentations in Milan that were supported by the Fund, with a short introduction by art and design theorist Louise Schouwenberg.

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Better Known As - Ready, Set, Go!

Download the brochure about the 11 presentations in Milan here.

Photo's: Ilco Kemmere & Stimuleringsfonds Creatieve Industrie

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Digital Culture grants awarded in first round 2018: Blockchain is emerging

1 May 2018

The grants awarded in the first round of Digital Culture 2018 are now known. In total, 18 projects are receiving support. These projects include two proposals that focus on Blockchain technology. What do the submitters of these project proposals think of this technology? Is it a hype or is Blockchain going to change the creative industry for ever?
In the Fund's six year's existence, the grant programme for Digital Culture (formerly E-culture) has seen a diverse range of trends come along. Applications relating to Gamification, Virtual Reality, the Internet of Things, Google Glass, Big Data – sometimes a subject or technology seems to linger in the air. In order to keep the committee and the Fund staff up-to-date with new developments, the Fund organizes expert meetings with some regularity. In early 2018, we had discussions with experts, both for and against, about the usefulness or otherwise, the opportunities and the meaning of Blockchain technology for the creative industry. There is no simple answer to these questions, but one thing all the advisers agree on is that new media and new technologies like Blockchain bring new social design challenges.

Blockchain technology – a technology where controlled ‘transactions’ can be carried out between two or more parties without the intervention of an intermediary – covers a wide range of applications. This is perfectly illustrated by the two projects which employ a totally different approach:

prenuptial agreement
Designer Aiwen Yin explores the social potential of Blockchain in her project ‘Poiexixx’. Marriage represents the ultimate example here. Instead of defining relationships in laws and frameworks dictated by the state, Blockchain offers each individual the space to exercise control over every aspect of the union. Speculative or not, the possibility of this application raises fundamental questions – including within the committee – about the way we live and the disruptive function technology can have.
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Poiexixx
new business models for creative makers

Less philosophical, but all the more practical for that is the research carried out by Max Peeperkorn into new business models for makers in the creative industry. Peeperkorn observes that makers in the creative sector often still work for very low rates, or even for nothing. In collaboration with Jennifer Kanary Nikolov(a) he aims to bring about a change in this situation – utilizing Blockchain technology – by fixing the value of a creative contribution for a longer period of time. For example, makers who provide creative input to the development of a new product or studio receive a payment from the commissioning client in the intended system in the form of a royalty or dividend in a blockchain. This way, the client can pay the maker for the service provided at a later date, if the product or end result is successful.

Here you can see a complete overview (in Dutch) of all grants awarded in the first round of Digital Culture 2018.

The next deadlines of the Grant Programme for Digital Culture is 9 May and 8 August 2018.

Photo above: Coded Matter(s), FIBER

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Selection Open Call Venice Architecture Biennale #2 and #3

22 April 2018

Next to the selection of the parallelprogram of the Dutch pavilion five more projects were selected in the context of the Open Call Architecture Biennale Venice 2018 #2_development budget and the Open Call Architecture Biennale Venice 2018 #3_presentation budget, who provide a physical, spatial contribution to the exploration of the FREESPACE theme during the Architecture Biennale Venice 2018. With the title FREESPACE, general curators of the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale, Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, address the relation between architecture and society.
selection Open Call Architecture Biennale Venice 2018 #2_development budget
Case Design (Anne Geenen & Samuel Barclay) and Crimson Architectural Historian were invited to the 16th International Architecture Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia curated by Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, to present an exhibition related to their work and in response to the theme FREESPACE. On request of the curators the content of the exhibition cannot be revealed before the preview of this edition of the Biennale on the 24th and 25th of May.

selection Open Call Architecture Biennale Venice #3_presentation budget:
Cosmogonia Mundi
MAKE MOVE THINK
Architecture in the Netherlands – Yearbook
nai010 uitgevers with Lara Schrijver, Kirsten Hannema, Robert-Jan de Kort, Reinier de Graaf
Free Market
Jeffrey Bolhuis (AP+E) with Jo Anne Butler (Superfolk), Miriam Delaney (DIT), Tara Kennedy (Culturstruction), Orla Murphy (Custom) & Laurence Lord (AP+E)

next Thursday Night Live!
The 16th edition of the Venice Architecture Biennale will take place from 26 May to 25 November 2018. The Creative Industries Fund and Het Nieuwe Instituut will continue their series of joint events with a reflection on the various explorations of the FREESPACE theme during the Thursday Night Live! on Thursday 5 July 2018.

Photo above: Anne Geenen, Case Design
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