CANactions
International Spring School 'Borders are
for Crossing'
:
an interview with the Course Directors
International Spring School
'Borders are for Crossing':
an interview with the Course Directors
Mirjam Niemeyer and Vladyslav Tyminskyi from CANactions School are two of the Course Directors of the Spring School, organized by CANactions School and the Independent School for the City. In the interview, they address the aims and specifics of the Spring School, challenging traditional educational approaches and why is it worth applying to the program. The call for participants is open till the 4th of February.
CANactions: How the idea of the Spring School was born?

Vladyslav Tyminskyi: The Spring School 'Borders are for Crossing' is the result of an exciting cooperation between CANactions School and our partners from the Independent School for the City (Rotterdam) we have started more than a half year ago.

On the one hand, it is a pilot educational event our School is holding abroad. At the same time, it is the implementation of the strategic goal we have been working on for the last years — to become a truly international institution which connects East and West, global and local, theory and practice, architecture and urbanism.

Why did you decide to explore the global phenomena of migration and its local spatial implications?

Mirjam Niemeyer: At CANactions we are interested in exploring the global challenges cities are facing today and understanding them in their specific geographical and cultural context. Migration as one of these challenges has always shaped our societies. It takes place always and constantly, so it is sort of normal. Nevertheless, migration often only becomes visible in the event of problems or is discussed in the face of conflicts. But what is migration? Who are migrants? How has history changed and how is it today politically reacting to migration? How do our cities deal with migration? During the Spring School, we will explore these questions and how they effect the spatial, social, political and economic development of a western european city like Rotterdam. We will investigate, discuss and develop ideas, strategies and approaches for dealing with this impact.
Photo: Margo Didichenko
How is it different from traditional educational workshops?

Mirjam Niemeyer: Compared to typical architectural workshops, the Spring School is aimed at elaborating interdisciplinary team work and integrative thinking.

During the Spring School, two independent educational institutions will join forces. By doing this we can offer a combination of our know how and experience in integrated urban development together with specialists in the field of architectural history and urban research.

Group work in international and interdisciplinary constellations of participants will offer an inspiring framework for exchanging and working together with different cultural and professional background. The learning process will be organized in a way that allows the group to challenge simultaneously the logic of research as well as design and elaborate strategic proposals.

Vladyslav Tyminskyi: Comparing to the "conventional" workshop format (if I may say so), the Spring School is aimed at practicing with participants how to carefully investigate the city, pose the right questions and, only then, come up with any intervention strategies. However, the learning process will be organized in a way that would allow the group to challenge the linear logic of both research and design. Moreover, by obtaining and applying tools and methods from various disciplines, the participants would have a chance to elaborate interdisciplinary and integrative strategic proposals for the selected locations with the real potential to be renewed: Oud and Nieuw Mathenesse — former workers and harbour areas between Rotterdam and Schiedam.

What will the Spring School' program consist of?

Mirjam: The program will provide inputs on the topic of migration in the context of city development, aiming at understanding the drivers for and the various effects of migration. Moreover, it will introduce the integrated urban development approach. The program will also provide input to the case area. As it was mentioned earlier, participants will do concrete field research in the Oud and Nieuw Mathenesse harbour area in Rotterdam as well as reflection sessions to discuss and exchange findings and investigations aiming at developing new ideas, approaches and/or strategies.
Photo: Margo Didichenko
What are the deliverables of the Spring School?

Vladyslav: Speaking about the results, I would like to underline that the aim we have in the frame of the Spring School is to challenge the traditional approach of an architect, urban designer, or urban scholar. Therefore, we will expect from and even encourage the participants to devise their research findings differently, creating a basis for the integrated strategies and urban interventions. By testing various visual forms and conceptual models — from filmmaking to urban design sketches and drawings, the group of students will demonstrate how vast could and should be today's thinking of an urban professional. Besides, the participants will gain a deeper understanding of Rotterdam — looking beyond well-known architectural and urban planning landmarks of the city, and develop integrated urban strategies for the selected urban areas that are more inclusive and sustainable.
Why is it worth to apply for participation in the program?

Mirjam: The international Spring School is a great chance for any professional, young professional or future-professional interested in the development of our cities, urban renewal, migration, harbour areas, Rotterdam... and exchange. Interdisciplinary exchange, exchange of perspective, exchange of views and understanding among urbanists. We are looking forward to an energetic week with an exciting team working on intra-european themes in the specific situation of Oud and Nieuw Mathenesse — former workers and harbour areas between Rotterdam and Schiedam.

Do you plan next joint projects between CANactions School and the Independent School for the City?

Vladyslav:
By designing and running the Spring School together with the Independent School for the City, we are looking forward to furthering our cooperation in the frame of the full curriculums of both institutions which start in autumn 2019. In addition, we would like to make the Spring School an annual joint event which would allow both partners to continue the expertise exchange and fruitfully learn from each other. Follow the forthcoming news!

Photo: Margo Didichenko
Text: Olena Vozniak