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Architecture Workroom
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IABR-Atelier Rotterdam— Energy transition as an urban project

The IABR–Atelier Rotterdam will turn the opportunity created by the energy transition the city and port face into a driver for inclusive urban development and an engine for other important challenges regarding food, the productive city, living, social equality, and others. This means the Atelier considers energy transition not only a goal, but also a means to work on an attractive future and a resilient and inclusive Rotterdam. 

De Lage Landen 2020-2100, een toekomstverkenning— AWB & Sannah Belzer

Energy = Space 

Rather than only underground and in distant power stations, the new energy system is suddenly becoming manifest in our living environment. Spatially, it will strongly influence our cities and the way we organize and design them. The energy transition is therefore preeminently a spatial challenge. The fact that the energy production potential varies per region and even per district creates an opportunity to rethink and renew the spatial organization of cores, districts, and public facilities in connection to new infrastructure. At the district level we will see collective energy facilities of necessity develop their own language, beyond utilitarian form and function. It is only possible to reduce energy demand if the existing housing stock is thoroughly renovated and new construction projects are as energy neutral as possible. 

Energy Transition as an Urban Project 

But is there a level playing field for everyone involved, can everyone keep up with the changes or even benefit by them? Energy poverty as a consequence of the energy transition is already imminent, especially in the more vulnerable neighborhoods. Given the right approach, conversely, the energy transition can contribute to a high-quality, attractive future if it is used as a means to work on a resilient and inclusive Rotterdam in which citizens are enabled to be not only energy consumers, but also energy producers. The question the IABR–Atelier Rotterdam raises is about what this new urban quality is that the energy transition will allow us to achieve. What ecological and social added value for the city, its neighborhoods, and every individual citizen will the energy transition be able to generate? The underground infrastructure, for example, also touches on the water challenge in the districts, and new skills will be needed to make the transition possible, creating new jobs. 

Research by Design to Create Prospects for Action 

Against the background of the challenge of the energy transition the IABR–Atelier Rotterdam will test new methods for inclusive urban development and generate concrete spatial proposals with the intention of eventually realizing them. 

The 2017 to 2020 period will focus on several work trajectories that together, each at their own scale level and in their own field of action, build on the energy transition as a social and inclusive urban project. The Atelier focuses on research by design that addresses the collective strategies of energy districts, to be tested in three different Rotterdam districts. An architectural-typological exploration researches how new architectural typologies in relation to their immediate environment can contribute to the development of concrete spatial solutions as building blocks for the energy transition. 

Test Site M4H+ examines and tests the circular area development of new residential-industrial districts. The unifying trajectory integrates the output of the other work trajectories and existing studies to develop prospects for action. The platform of IABR–2018 is mainly used to present and exchange expertise and knowledge and to actively involve partners and actors (from the city and region as well as beyond) in shared knowledge development. The final results will be presented at the IABR–2020, after which they will be implemented. 

The IABR–Atelier Rotterdam: Energy Transition is a collaboration between the IABR, the City of Rotterdam (Urban Planning Department and Resilient Rotterdam) and the Port of Rotterdam Authority, covering the 2017 to 2020 period. The purpose of the Atelier is to instigate solutions that municipalities and other stakeholders can subsequently implement in practice. 

Lead Designer is Joachim Declerck (Architecture Workroom Brussel), member of the Curator Team of IABR–2018+2020. 

More info on the IABR–Atelier Rotterdam here.

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With structural support from the Flemish government and regular support from the Brussels capital region and other regional and local governments.