Debra Solomon is an artist, researcher and educator. In 2017 she introduced the term ‘multispecies urbanism’ to describe urban development driven by the priorities of urban ecosystems and natural world stewardship as giving primacy to the care for the natural world. Multispecies Urbanism promotes policy innovations that engage citizens as part of a resilient urban habitat founded on environmental justice for all species. In Soil in the City: the socio-environmental substrate Solomon explores this new paradigm in which urban nature is a rightful stakeholder, engaging with civil society reciprocally.
In 2010 she founded Urbaniahoeve to produce public space urban food forests with locals and to develop urban food forest design and stewardship training in the Netherlands and Italy. Over the last decade, Solomon and Urbaniahoeve have explored public space urban soil-building, food and ecosystem production, climate crisis mitigation, biodiversity and habitat re-generation in action research projects that animate urban greens and their soils. Projects include a 55-hectare urban food forest in Amsterdam Zuidoost, and a demonstration food forest in Amsterdam Noord whose topsoil and biodiversity have been described by soil scientists at Wageningen University soil scientists as a 'paradise on Earth'. Solomon is a PhD candidate at the University of Amsterdam in the departments of Urban Planning and Designing Urban Experience.
Francien van Westrenen
Francien van Westrenen studied Arts and Culture at the Erasmus University Rotterdam, graduating with her Master’s thesis on the future of the art museum. Since then she has worked at various cultural institutions, including Stroom Den Haag as architecture curator, where she curated, among others, Another Reality. After Lina Bo Bardi, Proposals for a Qualitative Society with Céline Condorelli, and Revolutionary Traces with Ângela Ferreira. With Maaike Lauwaert, she edited Facing Value. Radical perspectives from the arts (Valiz, 2017).
Since March 2018 Francien van Westrenen is the Head of Agency at Het Nieuwe Instituut. She addresses the innovative force and international role of the various design sectors, mediating between Dutch designers, makers and architects, and both national and international platforms, manifestations and policymaking.
Caroline Nevejan introduces in the research program as part of the Dutch contribution for the 17th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, City Science, a new way of working in which research, design, and policy work together structurally in the city. As Amsterdam's Chief Science Officer, she inspires and connects various research programs between city, municipality, universities, and colleges. She initiates and directs research based on questions from officials from various boards in the City, and from university researchers in alpha, beta, and gamma sciences. The definition of the research agenda, the formulation of research questions, the design, the methodology, and means of validation and valorization are determined by the integral and accumulative reality of the city. In this way, various partners in Amsterdam are building a sustainable knowledge infrastructure around the major challenges of our time such as equal opportunities, climate adaptation, a healthy living environment, smart mobility and digitization.
Nevejan is also special chair of Designing Urban Experience at the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR) at the University of Amsterdam and gives shape to this research programme in collaboration with the City of Amsterdam and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Afaina de Jong and Debra Solomon are also part of this research group.
Afaina de Jong
Afaina de Jong is an architect and contemporary thinker with an international and intersectional discourse that explores the boundaries of architecture, art, and culture. Integrating theory and research with design, she believes that architecture is not only to be perceived, but also experienced and interacted with.
After working with renowned international firms, De Jong established the creative studio AFARAI in 2005. An Amsterdam-based architectural studio, that specialises in spatial design and strategy, with a deep connection to represent people and cultural movements that are not traditionally represented in architecture. Using form, language, colour, pattern, and narratives that are 'other', the studio works towards a more holistic and inclusive urban space.
The Multiplicity of Other reconstitutes the dominant architectural paradigm in the current condition of contemporary urban life to explore the 'other' – the female, people of colour, and LGTBQ communities – with interdisciplinary and intersectional viewpoints on all levels. The Multiplicity of Other develops values, theories, and methodologies for a new design paradigm. For its presentation in the Dutch Pavilion, an important part of De Jong’s contribution focusses on the creation of Space of Other, spatialising the complexity of the concept and values of the project, and questioning the prevailing modernist rationale and universal 'white space' of the Rietveld pavilion.
De Jong works as the head of the Contextual Design MA department at Design Academy Eindhoven. She has been an active educator at institutions including the Faculty of Architecture at TU Delft, Sandberg Institute, and ARTEZ. She has lectured at Columbia University GSAPP in New York, KTH in Stockholm, and the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence.
InnaVisions is an artist and music selecta.
His art stems from studying the circular form as a source of creativity and exploring music by Sun Ra, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, John and Alice Coltrane, and Pharaoh Sanders. InnaVisions' interest lies in the early 1970s, when musicians like these started to search for a deeper sense in music. He takes an analytical approach to music, movement and the visual arts. His research is informed by the desire to develop a greater understanding of space and time, and subsequently a unique personal visual language.
InnaVisions often works in close collaboration with architect Afaina de Jong to make art installations and design for contemporary arts spaces and museums like Framer Framed, the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Textielmuseum Tilburg, TENT Rotterdam, the Storefront for Art and Architecture and the Centraal Museum in Utrecht.
Independent School for the City
The Independent School for the City is an international meeting place and knowledge exchange centre which approaches the contemporary city in an interdisciplinary, conceptual and pragmatic way. The school develops activities in which (future) professionals who work on the city are confronted with the complex issues faced by cities such as Rotterdam. It is an initiative of Crimson Historians and Urbanists and ZUS (Zones Urbaines Sensibles) and is rooted in their practices of combining a critical and activist approach to the city with effecting real change through architectural and planning projects. The Independent School for the City is founded on a strong belief in an incremental instead of a tabula rasa approach to city planning which blurs the lines between critique and practice on the one hand, and research and policy on the other.