IAFD x Blended Intensive Programme: Water Trilogy

In the academic year 2022-2023, the Interior Architecture & Furniture Design department started a blended intensive programme trilogy with the partner schools Berlin University of the Arts and Iceland University of the Arts in Reykjavik.

In this student and staff exchange project each school hosts a project week in their city and focus on local water culture. The project weeks consist of lectures, sight visits, discussions and working together on the concept of a design proposal.

Kick off blended project at KABK, in The Hague

Our IAFD department kicked off the in October 2022 by hosting a week at KABK and focusing on the North Sea as a body.

The main topic during this week of exchange is the Netherlands’ relationship with water, specifically with the North Sea.
How do we produce meaning about/on/with the sea? What is the sea? Where is it? Is it idyllic, dangerous, profitable, romantic?

Imaginations and relationships about and with the sea are and have been dominated by a human-centered perspective.
How could the sea challenge our thinking, our perspective? What do you share with the sea, how are we part of the sea?

What would it mean to take the perspective of a specific element, plant, animal that is an inhabitant of the sea, how could it change our relationship with the sea.

2023 IAFD BIP Water Trilogy The Hague3
2023 IAFD BIP Water Trilogy The Hague4
“We believe that each of the three cities that take part in this exchange programme has its own way of connecting to natural waters, due to the geographical location and cultural DNA. The way we interact, use and deal with water is reflected in our landscape. What influence does the natural water have on the way we design our natural and urban landscape? What joy does it give us and which problems is it causing. What are the differences and similarities in that between Reykjavik, Berlin and the Hague? Do we have a durable relationship with our natural waters? If not how can we improve it? Can we learn from each other’s way of dealing with water? And how can we as designers contribute to this topic?”
Nienke Sybrandy
2023 IAFD BIP Water Trilogy The Hague
The Hague
2023 IAFD BIP Water Trilogy Berlin2
2023 IAFD BIP Water Trilogy Iceland
“In the Netherlands we are in constant fight with water, in order to protect ourselves and our land we want to be in control over water. More often than not, we want to overrule its forces by creating new land. This needs constant maintenance and technical innovations. Dykes, weirs, polders and more specifically for the Hague dunes and beaches, are strong characteristic elements in our national landscape. Our landscape is fully designed to keep our feet dry”.
Maarten Kolk

Project week in Iceland

In March 2023 we went with a group of 2nd, 3rd and 4th IAFD-students students to Iceland where we focused on water as a natural source of energy. Hydropower is one of the two most important sources of energy in Iceland and plays a supporting role with the geothermal heat.

Their common characteristics are also of great importance for their utilization, such as the fact that in both cases they are ‘green’ sources of energy that can be harnessed sustainably. In both cases, the energy carrier is water, where the water energy uses static energy and the geothermal energy uses thermal energy. We need to keep our eyes open for new approaches:

..”For example, should we systematically move towards more use of floor heating system, which utilizes heat more efficiently? Should we use waste water for heating soil to grow vegetables outside all year along? Should we cover swimming pools during the night in Iceland? Should we take advantage of the heat emanating from the data centers? Should we even further utilize the waste water from geothermal power plants? and so on”...

The workshop week aimed to elicit ideas on how to make better use of geothermal resources and hydropower, seeking to contribute new imaginaries towards more sustainable horizons. During the mobility week, the design process was divided into different phases; context, study case, research, translation, and presentation.

Project week in Berlin

In October 2023, IAFD closed off the trilogy in Berlin, with a week of excursions that included a two-day trip to Lausitz where participating 2nd, 3rd and 4th IAFD-students explored the open mining pits and its renaturation plans. Students visited the IBA Block 6, the only model project for ecological building on the subject of water recycling in Berlin. They also followed the infrastructures of water and visit wastewater treatment plants, circulation tanks, rainwater retainment basins.

The participants met and exchanged thoughts with experts, artists, activists.

Who owns the water?

The goal was to explore and question a worldwide advancing speculation, but still recognizing acts of resistance and creative solutions to the impelling issues of water. During the 5 days program, the IAFD-students worked collaboratively in groups on a short design which investigates the (in)visible infrastructures that connect the multifaceted perspectives on the topic of water.