School for the City

Dutch activists launch new school for urbanism and migration

International News Professional Practice
The Independent School for the City will give students the chance to study urbanism and migration in Rotterdam. (Courtesy Independent School for the City)
The Independent School for the City will give students the chance to study urbanism and migration in Rotterdam. (Courtesy Independent School for the City)

A new school in Rotterdam will teach students to think critically about the links between urbanism and migration. Announced last month, the Independent School for the City will offer post-graduate students the chance to “celebrate complexity and contradiction in cities, and defend it against the forces that are making everything the same,” according to Michelle Provoost, co-founder of Crimson Architectural Historians which is spearheading the new educational outlet.

The school is a joint-venture between Crimson Architectural Historians, Dutch-based activist-architects Zones Urbaines Sensibles (ZUS), and DeDependance, a platform for city culture and debate in Rotterdam. Its pedagogy draws from Crimson’s and ZUS’s critical, activist approach to the city that seeks to effect real change by blurring the lines between critique and practice, as well as research and policy, and by initiating incremental change rather than large-scale city planning projects.

The school builds on the belief that architectural, economic, spatial, and social strategies for the city should be based on real, first-hand empirical research into the city. Research methods will include filmmaking, journalism, history, art, graphic design, gaming, fieldwork, traveling, planning, finance, and architecture. The school will be located in Rotterdam but will be connected to an international network of cities, schools, offices, and companies.

Initial course offerings include a series of masterclasses with professionals from various fields such as architect and exhibition designers Herman Kossman, urban sociologist Arnold Reijndorp, as well as designers Edith Gruson, and Gerard Hadders. Students will also learn from architect-filmmaker Jord Den Hollander and leaders from DeDependance.

The first year’s topic of investigation will be migration, a subject that builds on the ongoing Crimson project City of Comings and Goings. After an initial three-month period of skill-development, the students will spend a semester abroad, expanding their research and testing their strategies in Shenzhen, Ghana, or Kiev. On their return, they will present their research in designs, strategies, or stories. The school will collaborate with CANactions in Ukraine, the Strelka Institute in Moscow, as well as ZUS and Syracuse University in New York. Special lecturers include Olly WainrightUrban Think Tank‘s Alfredo BrillembourgAssemble‘s Maria LisogorskayaPeter Barber, and Ghanaian architect/novelist Lesley Lokko.

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