The Imaginate Futurist

Graduation studio chair UUA 3rd quartile 2019 – 2020

The Energy Transition aims to transform the present energy system that is based on fossil fuels into one based on renewable energy sources. The winning of fossil fuels, such as natural gas, crude oil and coal, harms both nature and environment and contributes to the Greenhouse effect. Additionally, fossil fuels are slowly depleted. This calls for a transition towards sustainable energy sources, such as sun, wind and geothermal energy. However, energy transitions cannot be fully grasped without appreciating their spatial implications. Research on energy and energy transitions has been criticized for a long time for not being spatially sensitive. Yet, for some years now, there has been a ‘spatial turn’ in energy research.[1] Energy transitions of the future will probably lead to the reconfiguration of spatial and architectural patterns of social, cultural, and economic developments and everyday practices. They will have material consequences for urban and industrial landscapes and will result in new design scenarios and spatial developments. 

The aim of our graduation studio ’The imaginative Futurist’ is the inquiry and design of ‘futuristic’ architectural and urban transformation scenarios for Rotterdam’s harbor. Especially we will focus on today’s part of the harbor which are used mono-functional for the storage of fossil fuels. The primary challenge of the studio will be based on the hypothetical condition of if; if the energy transition will be realized step by step, what might be the future architectural conditions of Rotterdam’s harbor spaces which are used to the present only for logistical and infrastructural purposes? Our hypothesis is that energy transformation will lead to unconventional design scenarios which might be at a second glance less futuristic or even utopic than one would expect.


  1. Umberto Boccion
  2. Gavin Bridge (2018).

Practical details

While participating in this studio the students are expected to work with a high level of independence. The focus of the sessions will be on discussion of the various topics the group brings to the table. As such students are also expected to take an argumentative position in the discussions and in the project as a whole to show critical thought. While this studio setup provides a broad freedom to choose topics and explore investigative leads, it remains important to produce a clear project definition outlining personal and architectural goals.


Responsible professor:


Maximum students:

Jochem Groenland, Sjef van Hoof, Hüsnü Yegenoglu

Pieter van Wesemael


4 (every quartile)

The Intermediate Size questions the relationship between architecture and urbanism. The studio is open for both architecture and urbanism students, who will collaborate in groups. While urbanism students will explore possibilities for new urban settlements and transformation of the landscape, the architecture students develop architectural ensembles; new typologies, used as ‘smallest nucleus of urban planning’ (The Intermediate Size, 2006, p.56 ff.).

The studio focuses on contradictions and collisions within the urban fabric. We explore these at various dimensions: scale (micro versus macro), domain (private versus public), program (informal versus formal), form (autonomous versus heteronomous) and time (permanent vs. transient). The tensions that are the result of these contrasting urban elements can be both disturbing and exciting, the objective of this studio is to explore its full potential.

The research practices the two types of observers of space as defined by Michel De Certeau (Walking in the City, 1984): the voyeur, who explores the world from a certain distance, based on abstract theoretical concepts of space production, and the flaneur, who by observation and through direct experience is able to trace the specific and the ambivalent of a place. The research combines typo-morphological analysis with production of film clips and interpretational models.

In the design we search for (new) typologies that respond to the challenge of large-scale urbanization. The aim is to develop resilient urban landscapes, and robust architectural ensembles that link big scale to small scale; public to private domain, and the landscape to the build objects.

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