Henk Ovink was appointed the first Special Envoy for Water of The Netherlands in 2015.
He was senior advisor for US Secretary Shaun Donovan of HUD in his role as Chair of the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force. Ovink was responsible for the long term planning strategy and the widely acclaimed design competition Rebuild by Design.
Before joining the Task Force Ovink was both Director General Spatial Planning and Water affairs and Director National Spatial Planning for the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment in the Netherlands. As Director General he was responsible for the national policy on, the national legal frameworks for and the long term strategy, investments, programs and projects for water affairs and national spatial planning in the Netherlands.

Henk Ovink is member of the supervisory board of The Berlage Institute, the UK School of Design, Delft University of Technology Faculty of Architecture and the Master City Developer Rotterdam. He initiated the research program Design and Politics, the connecting chair Design and Politics at the TU Delft and a series of publications with 010 Publishers, called ‘Design and Politics’ covering the historical and political perspective with a focus on specific issues (designing the Randstad, Compact Cities and more). Ovink collaborates with and participates in the research program Urban Age within the Cities Program of the LSE. He lectures and publishes on the change of government, governance and planning as well as on the specific relationship between design and politics.

ZUS [Zones Urbaines Sensibles] investigates the contemporary urban landscape on every possible scale by means of solicited and unsolicited designs. The output of the office ranges from political research to urban planning and from landscape design to architecture. ZUS works with a belief that everything and every place has the potential to become unique and thrilling. A spatial intervention should therefore always be inspired by the specific qualities of the site or its context.

ZUS [Zones Urbaines Sensibles] was founded in Rotterdam by Elma van Boxel (1975) and Kristian Koreman (1978) in 2001. In 2007 they received the prestigious Rotterdam Maaskant Prize for Young Architects and published their first book: Re-Public: towards a new spatial politics. Despite their young age they have already had the honor to be selected as curators for the 5th International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam and the first BMW Guggenheim Lab team in New York. In 2012 ZUS was selected as ‘Architect of the Year’ in the category small offices.Their work has been widely exhibited in a.o. the Venice Biennale, the Design Biennale Istanbul, the Architecture Biennale in Sao Paolo and the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam. They hold teaching positions at various design schools including the CAFA school of architecture in Beijing and INSIDE at the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague.

Van Boxel and Koreman head an international and multi-disciplinary team consisting of architects, urban planners, landscape architects, a graphic designer and a cultural economist. A professional design team is selected for each specific project.The list of ambitious projects ZUS is working on is expanding rapidly. In the field of landscape architecture ZUS has realized designs like Printemps à Grand Bigard in Brussels, the Central Park of the World Expo 2010 and the landscape of the Dutch Pavilion in Shanghai.ZUS designs large scale urban plans, such as Almere Duin –a coastal neighborhood containing 2650 houses, currently under construction– and A2 Maastricht –a city-wide infrastructural redevelopment plan which was designed jointly with the the Royal BAM, largest contractor in the Netherlands. Recently ZUS was asked to draw up the new master plan for the Futian District in Shenzen.
The Schieblock is the successful redevelopment of an abandoned office building in the center of Rotterdam. The project garnered attention for the fact that ZUS wasn’t only involved as architect but also as initiator, developer and real-estate agent. In 2012 the project was shortlisted for AM NAi prize and was awarded the Job Dura encouragement award. Currently ZUS, in partnership with the IABR and others, is occupied with the execution of Test Site Rotterdam: a complex urban renewal project which aims to redefine the current approach to city development. The multi-million dollar project is underway with the Luchtsingel (a crowd-funded pedestrian sky bridge), Europe’s largest rooftop farm (which was awarded the 2012 Green Building Jury Award) and a city park of 5.000 m2.

Thijs van Spaandonk (Tilburg, 1981) studied Architecture at Eindhoven University of Technology. In different roles and responsibilities, Thijs explores and addresses the cultural aspects of the major challenges our environment is facing.

Thijs is partner at BRIGHT, an R&D cooperative for urban development, he co-founded with Gerjan Streng in 2017. Bright produces observations and prototypes to investigate and intervene in the impact the systems of energy, food, mobility and economy have on our surroundings. Recently Bright was intensively involved in the exhibition Places of Hope in Leeuwarden; the Dutch Climate Agreement and the Regional Energy Strategy for the Province of North-Holland; a serious game to support neighborhood Climate Agreements in Amsterdam with Play the City and Space & Matter; the educational game Ministry of Food in collaboration with Lava and the national broadcaster KRO-NCRV, and a series of bat houses. Bright is member of international design collaboration The Cloud Collective, a cooperative that wants to address the social impact of architecture and design.

Education plays an important role in exploring the profession. After teaching at various Academies of Architecture, Thijs is currently head of the Urbanism Master’s Program at the Rotterdam Academy of Architecture. The focus is to explore how climate mitigation and climate adaptation can and will impact the city of Rotterdam and more specifically, what competences architects and urbanists need to develop to be involved in this process.
Thijs van Spaandonk is part of the Future Urban Regions research group. His research-by-design focuses on the delta region of Zeeland, where he was raised. He is co-author of the book Urban Challenges, Resilient Solutions: Design Thinking for the Future of Urban Regions.

Thijs was involved in international collaborations in Delhi and Beijing and has acted as visiting critic at Columbia University (New York) and Hong Kong University (Hong Kong)

picture: Fred Ernst

Maarten Hajer (1962, Groningen) is an internationally renowned Dutch political scientist and urban and regional planner. He was educated at the universities of Amsterdam and Oxford and published widely on issues of city politics, public space, political discourse, environment and democracy. Since 1998, he has been a professor of Public Policy at the University of Amsterdam.

In 2008, the Dutch Cabinet appointed him Director­–General of the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency. While primarily focused on political decision–making in Holland PBL is also active for international bodies, such as the European Commission, OECD and UNEP.

After obtaining his DPhil from the University of Oxford, working with geographer David Harvey, he worked at the University of Leiden, at the Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich, collaborating with sociologist Ulrich Beck, and as senior researcher at the Dutch Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR), where he was project coordinator of a highly influential report on spatial development politics.

Hajer has held a number of public appointments. As a member of the VROM-council of the Dutch Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment he was responsible for the report on climate change as a structural spatial issue (“De Hype voorbij – klimaatverandering als structureel ruimtelijk vraagstuk” - 2007). In addition, he was a member of a party principles manifesto committee of the Dutch Labor Party (2000); a columnist for the Dutch newspapers Het Parool and Staatscourant; and a member of the jury for the Spinoza Prize, the Dutch EO Weijers competition for landscape architecture, and for EUROPAN 9, the European award for young architects; and board member of the Amsterdam Art Council and the Van Eesteren, Fluck van Lohuizen Stichting (EFL). Currently he is a board member of the Rotterdam Maaskant Prize for Architecture and a member of the UNEP Resource Panel (IRP) concerned with strategic issues of resource scarcity, decoupling and resource-efficiency.

Hajer is the author of many articles and books, among them Smart about Cities: Visualizing the Challenge for 21st Century Urbanism, with Ton Dassen (NAI010 Publishers / PBL, 2014); Strong Stories: How the Dutch Are Reinventing Spatial Planning, with Jantine Grijzen and Susan van ‘t Klooster, (010 Publishers, 2010); Authoritative Governance: Policy Making in the Age of Mediatization (Oxford UP, 2009); In Search of the New Public Domain, with Arnold Reijndorp (NAi Publishers, 2002); and the study The Politics of Environmental Discourse (Oxford UP, 1995).
He was the editor of Deliberative Policy Analysis – Understanding Governance in the Network Society, with Henk Wagenaar (Cambridge UP, 2003), and of Living with Nature, with Frank Fischer (Oxford UP, 1999).