Type of Project

Sep-Oct 2019

Awards & Mentions
  • 8.5 Grade
  • Part of studio exhibition

History and future of a city

A city is not a mere physical construct. A city is a signifier of the complex socio-economical system that underlies urban life and its soft interactions with other complex systems like globalisation to geo-politics and hard interactions with complex systems like natural landscapes and climate change. A city is a signifier of a complex system.

To understand the complexity of Velsen, analysis done during the studio in the themes of urbanised landscape, form of the city and the open city are overlayed to understand the complex(c)ity and its emergent trends.

In Velsen, like in other Dutch cities, growth and expansion is heavily influenced by top-down government policies, influenced by the paradigms of the times in which they were built.

Does that make Velsen a fragile city, prone to hierarchical failures? or is it flexible enough to adapt to new changes? What are the emergent trends in the growth of the city over the years? How could the city better face those emergent trends and new ones rising in the horizon?

Process and Notes

This project was part of first quarter urban design studio, in the Master of Science, urbanism track.

Excerpts from the brief

Whoever is designing on a city scale is designing on something that is already there. You do not start from scratch but you are designing interventions in something that already exists, already transformed many times in the course of time and that is far more complex and bigger than your design ever could behold. How to get grip on this, how can you learn to read and write on the city, how to grasp the spatial language and “space-time” of an entire city?

Work on this city from three different perspectives:

The urbanized landscape: in what way did the underlying landscape determine the form and structure of the city? And in what way could this be transforming the city in the future?

The form of the city: What are the composing elements of the form of the city? What are the typical structures, spaces, and built constructions? How did the form and use change in time, and how could this transform in the future?

The open city: how does the social structure of society show in the form and space of the city? How did this change in the course of time? Where does this show in form, space, and program? And how could this change in the future?

The study involved site visits and literature study as part of an additional course to inform on the urban theory pertaining to each theme. The studio group led by Suzana Milinovic worked on the three themes mentioned above, with one theme every two weeks, .

The studio group took a research by design approach to understand the city. Proposing new design solutions, and understanding it’s implications on the city through it.

The final product was an atlas that compiled the understanding of the city about it’s past and potential future in 30 pages. A portrait of the city was also part of the deliverables.

It was an interesting exercise to reflect upon the city in a subjective portrait. Other maps and drawings produced as part of the studio exercises are linked below to give an insight into the process.

Leave a Reply