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by Angelique Spaninks

Cities are growing rapidly and they will most likely keep doing that in years to come up to a point where the majority of the worlds inhabitants will be living in urban environments. In COL #5 we set out to come up with more healthy alternatives than our contemporary life and work styles offer. 

David Hamers, lecturer at DAE and senior researcher at Planbureau voor de Leefomgeving first stretches the term healthy beyond physical health and health care alone including social and environmental aspects like aging and pollution. 

An example of this new healthy urban perspective is given by transition thinker Anne van Strien. She feels Smart City concepts usually focus primarily on technology. “But Eindhoven is much more than just a smart city if you include all social and environmental complexities.” Therefore Anne has come up with the concept of The Wise City for which she goes outside gathering the input. 

But confrontations with real life are not easy David acknowledges. Still he believes designers can claim a more important role in policy making by posing the nasty questions. “The best way is to be out there and deconstruct hack and twist what is handed over to you from the official side.” 

Design Academy graduates like Desiree van der Gracht (The Future Home), Conor Trawinski (Buurtfabriek) and Eleonore Delisse and Laura Ferriere (The White Building) each have developed concrete examples of these types of interventions and new approaches. Essential in all of them is that they need to be embraced by others. How to treat your furniture as a pet, engage burn out or unemployed neighbours in a wood furniture factory or even let recidivist inmates find their talents to help them resocialise through work. 

The inclusion and dialogue between creatives and ‘normal people’ is also at the core of the new approach for the Designhuis, as creative director Jorge Alves Lino underlines. “I sense a sort of deresponsibilisation of citizens, we seem to expect the city to do this or that. But we, as people, are the city, we should empower ourselves and others, whether or not they are in the creative community. Only then the city can become a true a laboratory for better living.” 

80+ lady Babs, taking part in the Kunstroute65 program of MU, STRP and DDW and Reversed School, is the living proof of inclusive enthousiasm and empowerment. “For me most exicting are the young energetic people taking all their time and energy to take us older people into the 21st century. Confusing at times but so exciting too. I have been 3D printing and last week I was at Mad Skills hiphop school. That’s what I am going to do next.”

Published: 21-Oct-2015 21:00
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