Architecture of Connection – Amsterdam

Mix, Open up, Share – How to define an architecture of connection?

Loneliness is being recognized as an epidemic across the globe: international press shares scientific proof of the detrimental effects of loneliness on people’s health and life expectancy; numerous campaigns and organizations are seeking for the remedy of social isolation, and the UK has recently appointed the world’s first minister for loneliness. During the WeMakeTheCity-event at Pakhuis de Zwijger on June 21, 2018, A10 new European architecture explored various lessons for architects to help avoid loneliness in the city.

The lessons have been provided by architects from Greece, Germany, Turkey, The Netherlands and France, as well as from the audience. Ranging from competitions proposals to recently built or ongoing projects and from small, accupunctural solutions to city-scale initiatives, these projects will expose the diversity of possible approaches, but also the importance of combining the designers’ out-of-the-box thinking with their ability to connect various urban actors in order to make things happen.

Anna Yudina (France) exposed the multiple facets of urban disconnect and how they are addressed in cities across France. Case studies include a social housing block in Lille shaped around a string of shared multi-use spaces that encourage interaction between neighbours; a new capsule residence for the students of a free-tuition web development school who would otherwise be unable to afford accommodation in Paris; a well-known art foundation opening its outpost in a notorious suburb… and more. Read her interview with Pakhuis de Zwijger here
Olga Ioannou (Greece), principal at Ioannou-Karvelas architects and urban design lecturer at the National Technical University of Athens, shared her experience with bringing change to Elaionas, a post-industrial area in Athens, Greece, which became home to marginalised social groups and illegal activities and presented a massive challenge for those attempting to regenerate it.
Stefanie Heublein (Goethe Institute Prague, Czech Republic) introduced Shared Cities: Creative Momentum, an initiative that has brought together 11 organisation from Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Serbia and Slovakia to create a space for architecture, art, urbanism and the sharing economy and contribute to the transformation of urban life.
Peter van Assche (Netherlands, Bureau SLA) presented BloemkoolburenBond and Contemporary neighbourhoods – his winning entry Almere in Who Cares Competition.

Indira van ‘t Klooster (editor-in-chief of A10 new European architecture cooperative) moderated the event.

Lessons learnt:

  • Integrate, share and open up > connect yourself (as an architect) to people, to the problem, the city and to the architects’ community itself
  • Mix, facilitate intergenerational relations and generate connectivity
  • Create opportunities and sense of purpose > don’t rely on the power of architecture alone, but also on process, program and policy