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Expo #1 Round-up

Last Wednesday evening we held our very first Urbanistas Rotterdam Expo! We were very kindly hosted by Keilecollectief, who provided us with the perfect space to bring together a group of ambitious women who work in urbanism and architecture. Combined with food and drinks, we were all set to have great night of urban-based fun!

The first speaker of the evening was our own Kate Unsworth, who presented to us her idea of ‘the not shop’, an initiative to refocus city-making on its main interest: citizens. In her experience as a geologist and urbanist, having lived and worked both in London and Rotterdam, she has seen an increasing disconnection between people and (urban)planning. She feels there is a huge lack of transparency in the process of city-making and wants to turn this around. By creating an open and accessible space in the city she wants to help people engage in better city making. She aims to turn apathy and anger into empowerment and action. Her question to the audience was how such an idea could meet the real world in Rotterdam, which clearly tickled everyone’s interest and imagination; the discussion easily could have continued through the night. 

Our next speaker, Yue Mao, who we met at our first social, told us passionately about all her fascinations and interests in unconventional ways of practicing urbanism, under the title ‘The wicked way’. Her talk reached from artistic research and landscape art, to projects she did in the artic area’s of Norway and Sweden and her research into indigenous people and sustainability. Having experienced the current field of urbanism and being unsatisfied by it she asked us ‘What if you don’t want to pursue a conventional career as an urban designer? Even though we probably weren’t able to give her a real answer on this question, hearing her enthusiasm and innovative ideas on ways to open up traditional research methods, left us all feeling inspired.

Last, but certainly not least, was Turkuaz Nacafi, who presented her graduation project ‘Bridging Heterotopia’. She told us the story of how her new design for a bridge in Rotterdam aims to find common ground for seemingly different groups of people. Her research showed how many similarities exist between cultures and she used those similarities to define the structure and additional program of the bridge. Her goal: to honor both the rich history of Rotterdam and people from all cultures who have made the city their home. She radiated an incredible positivity, regarding issues of integration and change -often heavily loaded topics- and had a refreshing view on how ‘identity’ can be understood as a much more fluid concept. 

So have these three brilliant ladies left you hungry for more, or were you not able to attend this time? Then don’t despair…! We will be organizing another social on February 21st and another expo in March, so stay tuned!

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