Shreya took us straight to the digital layer of the city, introducing us to Swabit, a new location-based app connecting people to things happening in their area, encouraging spontaneous activity and interaction. The room was very curious and optimistic about the potential of the app and had all sorts of tips for its functionality and content. One key message was the importance of listening to your users when developing a new product (be that an app or spatial design!), so don’t forget to download swabit, give it a go and give your feedback to the team!
Vera from Nelen & Schuurmans then challenged us to ‘turn the street around’, ‘think like water’, and put water and climate resilience first, rather than retrofitting it in to designs at the end. She presented emerging ideas, methodologies and tools from her company about how we can do this at various phases of design and she was curious to get feedback. The Urbanistas totally agreed on the value and need for this approach and were eager to share their own stories and suggestions. Vera has some tips for anyone wanting to follow this up further: Take a look at zuid-holland.klimaatatlas.net to get an insight in to climate adaptation challenges like heat stress or extreme rainfall in the province of Zuid-Holland (in dutch)Discuss with your client if they are interested in incorporating a hydrologist or climate adaptation expert in to the project team (see their work with UNStudio for Stad van de Toekomst as an example of how well this can work!) Contact Vera at if you have any questions relating to flooding or climate-adaptation!
Then, it was time to have a good giggle (in a positive way!) at Lisa’s story of the Heilige Meeuw (Holy Seagull) as a way to tackle the (very serious) ‘contagious social disease’ of obesity. We were all inspired and lightened by her work in south Rotterdam, engaging children with (urban) design as a way to encourage them to think independently and thus break away from some of the unhealthy social norms that surround them. It was great to hear that the Holy Seagull is on the way to realisation via her company ObeCity (we can’t wait to go and visit it! An Urbanistas RDAM field trip?!) and the final discussion centred around how to find (female) role models to mentor and encourage us. I’m not sure we quite managed to reach a satisfactory answer – but maybe one to revisit at a future expo?