Rather than only underground and in distant power stations, the new energy system is suddenly becoming manifest in our living environment. Spatially, it will strongly influence our cities and the way we organize and design them. The energy transition is therefore preeminently a spatial challenge. The fact that the energy production potential varies per region and even per district creates an opportunity to rethink and renew the spatial organization of cores, districts, and public facilities in connection to new infrastructure.
Image: AWB and SannahBelzer, Low Lands 2020-2100
At the district level we will see collective energy facilities of necessity develop their own language, beyond utilitarian form and function. It is only possible to reduce energy demand if the existing housing stock is thoroughly renovated and new construction projects are as energy neutral as possible.
Designing for Action
But is there a level playing field for everyone involved, can everyone keep up with the changes or even benefit by them? Energy poverty as a consequence of the energy transition is already imminent, especially in the more vulnerable neighborhoods.
Given the right approach, conversely, the energy transition can contribute to a high-quality, attractive future if it is used as a means to work on a resilient and inclusive Rotterdam in which citizens are enabled to be not only energy consumers, but also energy producers.
Against the background of the challenge of the energy transition the IABR–Atelier Rotterdam will test new methods for inclusive urban development and generate concrete spatial proposals with the intention of eventually realizing them.
The 2017 to 2020 period will focus on several work trajectories that together, each at their own scale level and in their own field of action, build on the energy transition as a social and inclusive urban project. The Atelier focuses on research by design that addresses the collective strategies of energy districts, to be tested in three different Rotterdam districts. An architectural-typological exploration researches how new architectural typologies in relation to their immediate environment can contribute to the development of concrete spatial solutions as building blocks for the energy transition.
M4H+ examines and tests the circular area development of new residential-industrial districts. The unifying trajectory integrates the output of the other work trajectories and existing studies to develop prospects for action