Archives for category: temporary

This post originally appeared on Spacing

The Storymobile has been parked in front of the Mimico Centennial Library since October, as part of the Tale of a Town’s cross-country story gathering quest

If you’ve travelled through Mimico – a waterfront neighbourhood in Toronto’s west end – during the last few months, you may have noticed a tiny retro trailer parked in front of the local library. It’s the “Storymobile” (a mobile recording studio somehow squeezed into the trailer) producing the Tale of a Town and has been traveling across Canada, gathering community memories from the country’s main streets. At a time when big box multinationals are moving into urban centres, the goal of The Tale of a Town is to inspire people to make meaningful connections with the small businesses that form the backbone of Canadian downtowns.

The Storymobile in Windsor, Ontario

The Storymobile in Pasadena, NewfoundlandThe Storymobile in Saint John, New Brunswick

Above, the Storymobile in Windsor, Ontario, Pasadena, Newfoundland and Saint John, Newbrunswick

Led by arts and media company FIXT POINT, the Tale of a Town has so far had stints in towns and cities in Ontario, PEI, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and have just begun a stay in Ottawa. The Canada-wide quest will culminate in a multi-platform celebration of the country’s main street culture, alongside Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017.

As part of the Toronto Public Library’s Artists in the Library program, the Tale’s team of radio-artists have been recording interviews with Mimico’s business owners and residents and posting the best of their collection of local lore and personal histories online.

An independent town since 1911, Mimico was merged back into Etobicoke in 1967, amalgamating with the rest of Metropolitan Toronto in 1998. Despite amalgamation, Mimico still feels like small town surrounded by Toronto.

Image courtesy of John Chuckman,

Mimico's lakeside Westpoint Motor hotel stands alongside mid-century low rise apartment buildings

Mimico’s lakeside Westpoint Motor hotel stands alongside mid-century low rise apartment buildings

On the western shores of Humber Bay, Lakeshore Avenue West winds through a not yet complete condo neighbourhood before crossing over Mimico Creek and turning southwest to become one of Mimico’s main streets. Serviced by the 501 streetcar, the area is defined by small shops, diners, grocery stores, single family homes and mid rise 1950s apartment buildings that line the waterfront. The area has a seaside vibe – the mid century apartment buildings feel like a part of Miami Beach that has yet to be ritzed up.


Ask any town a question, and you’re bound to get an earful. With it’s own distinct history, it’s no surprise that the stories from Mimico are plentiful, eclectic and quirky. There’s the one about the barber who was too drunk to cut mustaches straight, or the time when Santa Clause made a surprise helicopter appearance at the Pickin’ Chicken. And of course, there’s the classic ghost story that will make you think twice about walking past the library after dark. 

As the winter comes, the Storymobile is getting ready to move on from Mimico, where they’ve been stationed since early October. To celebrate the end of their residency, a Tale of a Town has collaborated with Sean Frey to create an interactive installation in the Mimico  Centennial Library, transforming it into a city of books – books that you can listen to. 

The audio installation will launch as part of a community celebration at the library on December 13th  (here’s the Facebook event) and will stay up until December 20th.

Spadina Avenue, closed to traffic - Pedestrians and Streetcars mixing. Image courtesy of BlogTO

Spadina Avenue, closed to traffic – Pedestrians and Streetcars mixing. Image courtesy of BlogTO

Love it or hate it, Nuit Blanche delivers the spectacle of Toronto’s streets crammed full of people. With the sidewalks at capacity, and many streets closed to car traffic, we are treated to a hyper-urbanized version, 24/7 version of Toronto. Every October, the city becomes fully animated — perhaps a preview of things to come if population growth keeps apace in the next 50 years.

This year’s edition of the all night contemporary arts festival included the addition of new zones. Along with Fort York and City Place, Spadina Avenue was closed to traffic, and many artworks were displayed along the street.

The experience of Spadina closed to automobile traffic was highly enjoyable, providing a new perspective on the potential of this thoroughfare. The broad avenue, with dedicated street car tracks running down the middle, naturally lends itself to being a pedestrian boulevard. The dynamic was reminiscent of Las Ramblas in Barcelona — a boulevard famous for its walking culture.

I noticed, however, Torontonians struggling with the concept of a street being set aside for pedestrians and streetcars. Though barricades and traffic police were present to ensure that people would not cross the tracks when streetcars were coming, people kept on running through the tracks at the moment a streetcar was approaching.

The mix of a pedestrianized thoroughfare and streetcar tracks reminded me of some of my favourite street designs in Europe, where this kind of configuration is more common. As a past post explored, along Leidsestraat, a pedestrian-only street in Amsterdam, people freely walk along the tram tracks until one needs to pass by. The street is both a tram track and a pedestrian walk way and works beautifully. In Manchester, dedicated Tramways line the central Piccadilly Gardens, a bustling square. The square’s surface covers the entire area, with only slight demarcation of where the trams run, other than their tracks. The flow of this place is lovely — as pedestrians cross the square without stress, and avoid the trams when they come every-so-often. And when they do they blow their gentle whistle and all the senses have their outlet.

Making room for trams as the need arises, on Leidsetraat in Amserdam. Image courtesy of Urban Capture

Making room for trams as the need arises, on Leidsetraat in Amserdam. Image courtesy of Urban Capture

Pedestrians share space with trams and their tracks in Manchester. Image courtesy of

Pedestrians share space with trams and their tracks in Manchester. Image courtesy of

In Toronto, where we’re not used to this kind of shared space (yet), things were a little more challenging. Perhaps the presence of safety officers and infrastructure contributed to the tension, and people would have been better of interacting with the streetcars organically.

In any case, I was delighted to experience a step toward shared flexible space in my own Toronto. Little by little, we are demonstrating that streets are not only for cars, and can host multiple uses, complimenting and accommodating one another as the need arises.

In honour of winter, I would like to re-post an essay I wrote in 2009 for Spacing Montreal while I was going to McGill University for Urban Geography. It was a very snowy winter that year. Kind of like this one, in Toronto.

Are there any natural paths along your walks this winter?



When walking through Montreal, we cannot deny the usefulness of the shortcut. Shortcuts that are used a lot demonstrate  the lovely chaos that occurs when a side walk doesn’t quite meet our pedestrian needs.

Most pedestrians share one goal: to get between two points in the city as fast as possible. Ideally, urban planners would design paths that meet our needs perfectly, with major routes that bring the maximum number of people to the places they want to go.

Well, the utopian city in a planner’s mind does not exist.  We all have different orientations toward the city. We all have different ideas what we need to do and where to go, with different preferences for transportation. Ideally, a city is flexible enough to accommodate that.

Though planners couldn’t possibly provide sidewalks wherever you would want to walk, the city makes itself available for some crafty self landscape design. A simple example is the phenomenon of natural paths.

The most common example of natural paths are the ones that form at many street corners. Cutting every corner makes a walk much faster. So, inevitably, corner sidewalks are often usurped by a pythagorean line from A to B.

Living in a winter-city gives Montrealers a unique perspective on the natural path phenomenon. Every winter in Park Jeanne-Mance, the city ploughs paths that trace the perimeter of the park, the slowest route for someone who wants to walk across.

Having to walk through the park daily, I’ve found that shortcuts through the snow appear every winter in the same place. A path that initially manifests as a narrow track of boot prints, meandering past trees and picnic tables, slowly evolves to become wide and navigable.


We can read these indexes of movement as evidence of Montreal’s collective unconscious. The natural path through the snow also shows me that ultimately, I rely on the actions of others in urban space. It’s angle shortens the walk for the most number of people, and is a beautiful instance where natural human behaviour manifests in collective rationality and the logic of a city can be easily read.

Another example can be found on Ave des Pins, just west of du Parc. When the city redesigned the intersection to fit a more human scale, a large fence was built separating the north and south sides of Pins in order to prevent pedestrians from jay-walking through the fast-moving traffic. Despite these efforts, a path has formed directly through the seemingly indestructible steel fence. We can again appreciate the organic and collective nature of our negotiation of Montreal’s urban space and realize that ultimately, our city is formed by its citizens: our actions, our behaviours and our habits.



Though I enjoy going to the Nathan Phillip’s Square or Harbourfront skating rinks every now and then, I have to say, skating around in circles gets kind of boring fast.

This evening on the Toronto Islands, I experienced a whole different kind of skating. What I would have called “adventure skating” is actually called Nordic Skating (or trip skating, or wild skating) in Scandanavia. That this is a thing rocks my notions of what’s possible on skates, helping me out from the barricades of a cordoned-off rink and into the unconfined terrain of the frozen city.

Getting onto the ice via the canals that run between Algonquin and Ward’s Islands, I slowly skated my way toward the ever expanding harbour view of Toronto across the water. Somewhat hesitant to continue out to the open harbour by myself, I was about to turn back, when an Islander emerged from the banks with skates and an ice pokey in tow. He invited me out to the open harbour with him, poking the ice in front of him to make sure it was thick enough to cross.



Once we got to the open harbour, the views were spectacular. With the wild brush of the Island to our left, the humming, steel and metal conglomerate of downtown Toronto was sublime across the frozen bay. As the sun set, the hues of the skyline began to match the icy coldness of the lake and sky. We spent a good amount of time enjoying the expansive freedom of the terrain. No one else was out on the ice.

To get back, we went around Algonquin Island, making a big loop.

Jan 8 Skate

Nordic/trip/wild/adventure was an exhilarating experience, and I look forward to seeking it out in my future travels. This evening, skating through narrow canal passes and onto the frozen-over waters of Lake Ontario before the behemouth city provided stimulation for my urban explorer’s mind. Plus, it provided  another mode of getting to know the Islands terrain deeply. Wild-skating seems to me to be a less superficial winter sport than downhill skiing. It is rather a vehicle for exploration, for forging connections with the slowly passing landscape, for getting to know a place at a humane pace. 

I look forward to the continued deep freeze and the changes to the landscape it will bring to the Toronto Islands: each day, with the melt and thaw cycles, new terrain becomes accessible and is begging to be explored.

This post first appeared on Urban Toronto

Construction shed technology sure has gotten advanced. UrbanToronto Forum member Lenser captured this shot of the shed and emerging podium of Great Gulf’One Bloor East at Yonge and Bloor. As a forerunner to the development’s contribution to this intersection at Toronto’s heart, the construction shed proves to be an elegant architectural feature in its own right, providing a covered walkway for pedestrians and contributing to the experience of the street with decorated posts and archways that mimic the scaffolding above.

Urban Umbrella Yonge Bloor Great Gulf One Bloor EastUrban Umbrella, image by Lenser


A new temporary landscape has emerged in Toronto — a direct consequence of the transformational condo boom that is making this city decidedly more vertical.

Condo narrows occur when two condo-construction projects flank both sides of the same street. Protective construction sheds envelop the side walk and spill over into the street, narrowing a thoroughfare’s width. The effect is a tightening of space. Funnelled into a condo-narrows, flows of pedestrian and auto traffic slow as they are constricted through narrow and cordoned off sidewalks and streets.



The example I’ve photographed is a condo-narrows in its early stages on Charles Street west of Jarvis. The condo construction has yet to emerge from the foundation and rise above the construction sheds, but when it does it will further canyonize the space. As sun light is blocked and shafted, the feeling of passing through will feel more constricting, like entering a deep desert chasm.

A condo-narrows then, is effectively a sign of things to come. When the sidewalks and roads are narrowed by construction sheds flanking both sides, this is a preview of new building forms that will emerge, leaving a  mark of city space that is permanently constricted.

ceramic bowl

My parents house is full of stuff. It is brimming. Every room is stacked with old magazines, books and chachkas —  trinkets, never-used glasses and teapots. Old papers of every sort.

As part of this propensity for piling, my mother likes to put large empty ceramic bowls all over the house. Once a bowl is set down on a table- or countertop, it makes a tear in space, creating a vacuum that gets immediately filled with all sorts of the above-mentioned old papers/trinkets/never-used teapots.

My brother get furious at the existence of these bowls. His theory — which I back — is that the useless stuff would not accumulate if the bowl hadn’t created the space for accumulation. Simply: placing a bowl creates a vacuum in space. Refrain from placing the bowls, and  avoid an accumulation of useless objects.

stand alone

To bring this post from the realm of private domestic space to public urban space:
In Amsterdam there is a shortage of bike parking spaces. As a result, it’s common to leave your bike free standing and double locked (front wheel and back), not attached to any pole or official bike parking infrastructure in particular. You just leave it standing there. 

Of course, it’s riskier to park your bike this way — free standing and vulnerable — than affixing it to a solid pole or bike stand. But poles and bike stands run out quickly, and you often have no choice but to let your bike free flow. 

There are strategies to make your bike blend in, to make it seem like it is attached to something when it is in fact not. The most common of these strategies is to neatly line up your bike with an existing bike rack to make it seem as though it is attached to the bike rack, when in fact it is floating freely beside it. 

stand alone 2

With this strategy, there is a certain street-wisdom that follows:  you should always park you bike where others have parked their bike, making your bike less of a target, and diminishing the chances of it being stolen.

Sometimes, people line up their bikes spontaneously to create fake bike racks – strength in numbers makes the deception more effective. But this has to start somewhere – someone has to be brave enough to leave their bike free standing, floating, easily taken in the middle of a sidewalk or square.

Like the bowls that fill with useless objects in my parents house, leaving your bike free standing in the middle of a side walk or street creates a vacuum in space, and leads to the accumulation of more bikes.

So, if you’re in the Netherlands, give it a try! leave your bike on its own, free standing , and when your return, a neat fake bike rack will have formed around it. Like a rock that collects moss in a moving river, leaving  your bike free and on its own in a square or on a street will create a bike vacuum, no doubt. 

This post originally appeared on the Pop-Up City.

Note: Over the past few months, I have been doing an internship at the Pop-Up City, along being the mobi-aider for the Mobiation Project. Writing a post about the Mobi-01 for the Pop-Up City (along with the Mobiator’s presentation at the fantastic Pop-Up City Live event) represents a coming together of the extreme sides of my personality. Less of a spectrum, and more of a circle, the Mobiators and the Pop-Up Citizens share  foundational values of ad hoc, flexible urbanism.

Have you seen the Mobiators roaming around Amsterdam? It’s likely you’ve encountered urban nomads before, but you probably quickly shrugged them off as punks, hippies, architecture students or circus performers just doing their thing.

But the Mobiators are a team of DIY urban nomads that defy categorization. Over the past year they have been temporarily setting up their self-built, foldable, completely transportable and undeniably uncategorizable home, the Mobi-01 in playgroundsparks, music festivals and lake-side communities around the city. The Mobiators are working towards having their Mobi-01 off grid by summer’s end, with solar, crank and pedal powered electricity, a grey-water system and a bio-digester to process their waste.

The Mobiators

The Mobi-01 is the first manifestation of the broader Mobiation Project. As the ambitious undertaking of the world’s first Mobiators Geert, a carpenter, welder, designer and tattoo-artist and Moroney, a vegan-cookin’, artist, writer and eco-architect, the Mobiation Project is a reaction — to the broken global economy and the increasing degradation of the environment. Mobiation takes big political questions and brings them into a personal light, asking visitors to consider their engagement with others and the world around them. With creative autonomy, the Mobiators argue that we can “get rid of the bad stuff and maximize the good stuff”, and work toward a more sustainable, inclusive world.

The Mobiators

The Mobi-01 is a living example of a functional off-grid living environment. As an open house, it acts as a podium for education, providing a major source of inspiration to anyone who visits. The Mobi is also a space for hosting organized workshops, and its mere presence in a community has the potential to bring inspiration, motivation and creative-awakening to their neighbours.

And let’s talk about the urban nomadity thing. Is this even possible, in 2013, in Amsterdam? Where is there land to set up and camp out? On first survey, it seems an impossibility: Amsterdam is full to the brim, and every piece of land is accounted for. Ignoring this reality, the Mobiators look at the city in different light, and have successfully found spaces to temporarily inhabit and infiltrate.

The Mobiators

Perhaps we could say that the Mobiator’s city is the Pop-Up City. To the Mobiators, Amsterdam is a purely flexible place, outfitted with temporary urban spaces that invite ad hoc experimentation. The Mobiation Project proves that with a certain attitude, any city can be a Pop-Up City. A shift in perception has the ability transform any mundane space, from the most barren to the most bureaucratic, into a place to be popped into, a place for unexpected transformations, a place where the most creative, sustainable and appropriate activities can take place, emerge and fade away as needed.

The Mobiators

And that’s why we’re excited to be having the Mobiators on stage at The Pop-Up City Live, a night for urban innovators. So join us on Tuesday May 21st at the Brakke Grond in Amsterdam to hear from the Mobiators and be inspired about their project, and the possibilities for sustainable, nomadic city-living in the 21st century, along with an exciting program of crispy themes, multi-media formats, and inspiring guests that will celebrate the best of five years of The Pop-Up City!


We’ve all been there. Our coffee maker, printer, or blender brakes, and it costs way less to buy a new one then to go through all the trouble of fixing it. Responding to this incredibly wasteful phenomenon and the volume of raw materials and energy needed to produce and transport new goods, Martine Postma, an environmental activist in the Netherlands created the world’s first Repair Cafe.

The goals of the Repair Cafe are simple: reducing waste, maintaining and passing on knowledge about repairing, and strengthening community. Since the first Dutch Repair Cafe opened in 2009, this form of unconsumption has gained immense popularity, winning 2013 Radical Innovator of the year, and with Repair Cafes being started all over the world,  from Germany to the United States, from Latvia to Brazil and Italy. Now one is opening in Toronto with it’s first meeting May 25!

Repair Cafe

Repair Cafes are pop-up gathering places where you can bring your broken stuff — electronics, clothing, tools — to be repaired by a team of volunteer electricians, seamstresses, carpenters and other repair specialists. Tools and materials are made available to repair all sorts of goods that could otherwise be thrown away. Without fixed locations, Repair Cafes temporarily transform urban spaces into functional social gathering places, where the project’s social benefits are as appealing as its ecological mission. At the Repair Cafe, you can drink a coffee and get to know your neighbours as you wait your turn to consult with a repair-volunteer.

Repair Cafe

Interesting to note are Repair Cafe’s uniform design worldwide. Indeed, they are all centrally connected to the original Dutch Repair Cafe, a foundation that believes in the strength of a global repair movement. The central Repair Cafe offers a comprehensive information package, customized advice, posters and flyers, and publicity via their network. To get this support free of charge, an organization in another city must call its project the Repair Cafe, use the same logo, and constantly refer to the central Repair Cafe’s website — another explicit example ‘local’ grassroots initiatives to improve the city are actually part of a global urban culture, with identical projects stemming from wide-spread ideas made possible by the internet.

Repair Cafe

The design of the Repair Cafe is anything but stylish. Its use of the MS font Curlz maybe even contributes to an anti-hipster look. We find this an interesting and effective strategy for promoting the simplicity of the grass roots solutions that the Repair Cafe brings forth. The repair cafe isn’t about style: it’s a utilitarian, effective solution to overconsumption in the world, and doesn’t need a new-Artisan brand to argue that.

Repair Cafe

In a crisis economy, environmentally-minded city dwellers have the ability to bring forward a lot of innovation. In this case, innovation isn’t as much of making something entirely new, rather looking back to old ways when people used to fix things before throwing them away. But the Repair Cafe is anything but a purely nostalgic yearning for the simpler days that were. The fact is, we do not have the knowledge in North America and Europe to repair CD players manufactured in China. Recognizing this, and maintaining and passing on the repair knowledge we do have in Europe and North America demands a change of mentality, which is necessary to create a sustainable society. Repair Cafes encourage us to repair what we can, pass on this knowledge, and perhaps start consuming things only within the realm of our expertise. Is this another sign that manufacturing is returning to the post-industrial cities of North America and Europe? In any case, it’s evident, while sharing is the new owning, fixing is quickly becoming the new buying!

This post originally appeared on the Pop-Up City.

As you’ve read on The Pop-Up City, food trucks have been “all the rage” in cities around the world for the past few years. Here’s a project in Brazil that takes a different spin on the concept: food trucks that, rather than selling food, are training people how to prepare food and manage their own culinary businesses (and maybe even their own food trucks!).

As seen on Springwise, Eu que Fiz (“I Made That” in Portuguese) is a project based in São Paulo. Organized by Selecta, a grocery brand, and the CUFA (Central Favelas Union of Brazil) for the residents of Brazil’s favelas, the project addresses the huge potential for positive economic stimulation in these densely populated, informal, and impoverished settlements.

Selecta x CUFA

Following the ancient wisdom of “teaching a person to fish” as the most effective form of charity, the project provides training in a specialized field, with the goal of enabling people to support themselves with their entrepreneurial endeavours of the future. Using a repurposed truck, Eu que Fiz is a mobile class room fully equipped with a learning-kitchen. Dates and locations of the food truck are announced before hand online.

São Paulo favela

Is Eu que Fiz another example of a company taking the role of the government in providing urban infrastructure and services as part of its branding strategy? The link between Selecta, a food-brand, and food entrepreneurialism makes sense and undoubtedly strengthens the company’s image. If the project is successful, and restaurants and catering services start to pop up in Brazilian favelas, their success will be linked back to Selecta. This, not to mention the possibility of a legion of loyal entrepreneurs who will be buying food from that brand.

This post originally appeared on the Pop-Up City

For the last 5 years on The Pop-Up City, we’ve been looking into trends and showing our readers the latest and best examples in creative, pop-up urbanism that are making our cities more sustainable, collaborative, and well — fun!

We are excited to announce that The Pop-Up City will be collaborating with The Hague’s Museon this summer on #stadvandetoekomst (#cityofthefuture, in Dutch), an exhibit that will take these trends and make them into an exciting and interactive experience. But before that, and with a cue from trends in urbanism, we are taking the exhibit “to the streets”, and will be hosting a series of six workshops to investigate – and crowdsource – what the city of the future will look like, and how it will work. We need your input!

Here are the six workshops, with times, dates and locations. The workshops are in Dutch, and are all free, with refreshments provided. So if you’re in The Hague or nearby in March or April, please join us! Space is limited for each workshop, so if you’re thinking of coming, please send us an email at

Justice to Go

Wednesday March 20th, 12:30-16:00, at Boksschool Houwaart, The Hague

Justice to Go

How will the city of the future be administered, and how differences of opinion and conflict be dealt with? Will new forms of micro-juridisction arise? Will a plug-in democracy emerge, that is more flexible, fair and fast? Can we organize Twitter-referendums? How can justice and democracy in the city of the future be more flexible and customized to meet the needs of its users? We need your input!

The workshop will be lead by Prof. Maurits Barendrecht, Prof Privaatrecht at the University of Tilburg and academic director of Hague Insitute for Internationalisation of Law, and will be visually supported by the designers of the Waarmakers. Interested? Send an email to

Urban Mobility

Thursday March 21st, 9:30-14:00, at Lola Bikes & Coffee, The Hague

Urban Mobility

What will transportation be like in the future? Will we drive electric cars, or will we be driving cars at all?  Will we use our bikes even more often and how will the bicycle change the city? How do we calculate the ‘Walkonomics’ rating of a city?

The workshop will be lead by Dr. Bert van Wee, Prof Transportbeleid at the TU Delft, and visually supported Ir. Han Dijk, urban designer at POSAD. The workshop is free, and refreshments will be provided. Interested? Please email!

Urban Play

Friday March 22nd, time T.B.A. shortly, at the ADO Kyocera Stadium, The Hague

Urban Play

How will we manage our spare time in the city of the future? Will sports become an even more integrated part of daily urban life? How can the city become more playful and more interactive? We need your input!

The workshop will be lead by Dr. Angelique Lombarts, Lector City Marketing & Leisure Management at Hogeschool, and will be visually supported by Ir. Ergün Erkoçu, architect and creative director of CONCEPT0031. The workshop is free, and refreshments will be provided. Please send an email to if you’d like to participate.

Pop-Up Living

Monday March 25th, 12:30-15:00, at Stroom, The Hague

Pop-Up Living

How will the city of the future change our homes? Will houses be able to pop-up anywhere and assume a wide variety of forms? What new functions will they be capable of? Will we manufacture our things at home? Will we increasingly work from home, and will nature find its way into our living room? Will we withdraw into our cocoons or will we become city nomads? How can we make our cocoons as sustainable as possible? We need your input!

The workshop will be lead by Ir. Marieke Tobias, architect and founder of Studio Tobias Architectenbureau, and will be visually supported by Linda Buijsman, architect at Upfrnt. The workshop is free, and refreshments will be provided. Please send an email to if you’d like to participate.

Shared Economy

Wednesday March 27th, 14:30-18:00, at Creatief Warenhuis Hoop, The Hague

Shared Economy

This workshop will look at new economic forms that are quickly rising and their role in the city of the future. Do companies still need office space? Is ‘giving away’ a new economic model? How do you combine ideals with entrepreneurship? With the success of Airbnb, and the emergence of 3D printing, how large will the shared economy turn out to be? If it becomes the norm, everyone will be customer, manufacturer and micro-entrepeneur at the same time. Will we soon be able to pay with tweets?

The workshop will be lead by Dr. Saskia Harkema, expert in Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and will be visually supported by architect and landscape designer Ir. Wolbert van Dijk. The workshop is free, and refreshments will be provided. Please send an email to if you’d like to participate.

The Natural City

Wednesday April 10th, 13:30-17:00, at the Koninklijke Academie van Beeldende Kunsten (KABK), The Hague

Natural City

What role will nature and sustainability play in the city of the future? How do we adapt/prepare for the changes in climate and sea level? Should we grow moss on our facades? Should unpaved roads return to our urban streetscape? Or should we farm on our rooftops? Rooftop farms were a utopian idea only five years ago, but now every city has them. How will they develop in 30 years? We need your input!

The workshop will be lead by Evert Kolpa, co-founder of architectural firm Van Bergen Kolpa. The workshop is free, and refreshments will be provided. Interested? Please email!

>> Brief notes and impressions on Rotterdam after my first visit to the city last evening.


Rotterdam is a digital city.

Since it was flattened by bombs in World War Two, Rotterdam lost the constraints of history that often come with a heritage built environment, giving space for the emergence of a highly experimental city.

Whereas Amsterdam is analog, Rotterdam expresses the essence of 21st century digital urbanism.


The Erasmusbruge spans over the Maas


Building a new home in Rotterdam. Netherlands

In Rotterdam, striking structures that betray their origins in digital architectural software are layered over 1960 modernist apartment buildings and retail strips. Enormous buildings make post-modern statements about space and identity. Digital clocks and screens are common, adding noiseless flashing light to the city’s electric aura.

Rotterdam 3

I visited Rotterdam last night, and experienced a version of the city that I felt to be quite honest: a grey February day gave way to a blustery, snowy evening – the perfect backdrop for a city of futurist metal, steel, and concrete. I was in Rotterdam for a party at the Drijvend Paviljoen – a series of 3 geodesic domes that were lit-up with neon colours and emitting a low electric hum, muted house music that could be heard from outside.

Comparing Amsterdam and Rotterdam is as irresistible as doing the same with Toronto and Montreal. In the Netherlands, these two cities went two very different ways, expressing extremely different elements of the Dutch psyche.

Amsterdam was the capital of design and progressive urban planning at a time when prevailing technology was analog, and so the city is characterized by the physical and mechanical: canal networks, rope pulley systems to ease moving furniture, manual signs announcing the times of the next tram (the mechanism spins hypnotically when the sign changes), and public analog clocks.


Manual tram signs in Amsterdam

Given Rotterdam’s history, it has had a very different experience of design and planning. I’ve heard that more and more of Dutch culture comes out of Rotterdam, and I get it. Rotterdam is the city of the now: a thoroughly digital urbanism. Despite Rotterdam’s extreme digitization however, it holds remnants of analog Dutch design. As in Amsterdam, the crosswalks in Rotterdam tick mechanically, building up to a rapid clicking that audibly signals it’s time to cross.