TU Delft Planning and Designing with Water for Sustainability 2019 | Summer School by Roberto Rocco

This article is based on author’s participation at the 2019 edition of the workshop and outlines her personal viewpoint. Visit the workshop website for detailed information.

The unprecedented initiative by Roberto Rocco, Associate Professor at Department of Urbanism TU Delft, has ignited the quest for sustainable development in the hearts of many students and professionals across the globe. His personal vision for the Summer School, which was first conducted in 2014, encompasses spreading the bountiful Dutch knowledge of water management in delta regions and pooling of new urban ideas at the hub of sustainability. Keeping The New Urban Agenda and UN Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) in the forefront, each year workshop invites over 100 participants, whose own careers are aligned to school’s objectives.

The 100 hours summer school is smartly packed with array of activities, keeping the young minds on their toes. The series of lectures by the department’s professors and HOD Vincent Nardin,  establishes an insight into the evolution of Delta Works in keeping Netherlands safe and sustainable. Apart from stupendous techniques of mitigation engineering, the participants are also made to think about planning related aspects like stakeholders, heritage, public safety, mobility, governance and public participation.

In the 2019 edition, of which I was a part, had featured guest workshops by ARCADIS and Municipality of Delft. For those unaware about the work that ARCADIS does, must visit their website to get introduced to their global positive impact. Amongst the participants were academicians and professionals from corners of world, who shared their work and urban issues of their respective countries. This was particularly stimulating, as they brought up several factual challenges that arose while implementing their strategies.

An entire day was reserved for an excursion to witness the storm surge barrier – Maeslantkering, 18th century wind mills of Kinderdijk and Jane Jacobs walk of Rotterdam. As this edition focused on urban risk factors and future development needs of the Scheveningan port in the city of Den Haag (The Hague), we were guided to map these elements on our visit to the site while simultaneously interacting with the stakeholders. This was an exciting experiment as we confronted real people with their real problems and later came up with policies and projects that could prove to be inclusive.

The way Dutch government undertakes urban development was conveyed to us by the officials from the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management of the Netherlands. It is astounding that they are able to realise bottom-up approach in handling urban issues, where this workshop itself was a part of this method. For each one of us gauging the context was crucial, which Municipality of The Hague chalked out through the history, earlier plans, current issues and future vision of their city.

In my opinion, what we ultimately took from this fortnight was much more than lectures, visits and discussions on urban planning. I believe we all left with a transforming energy and part of Roberto’s vision seeded in our minds. The major learning was through collaborating in diverse groups of 6, to build common visions, add values, define timelines, work out pillars, design policies and formulate strategies for a better Scheveningen.

Image credits – Roberto Rocco

I thank Roberto and his team for giving me this opportunity to explore global planning concerns and develop compassion for everyone and everything involved in the process. I truly recommend this Summer School to anyone who is seeking a change of perspective to bring about the positive societal change that they always wanted to. It is the intensity and interactive platform of this workshop that takes you out of your comfort zone and puts you into the position of a responsible change maker.

I reached out to few participants and asked them about their topmost learning from the TU Delft Summer School 2019. Read on to find what they have to say about how the workshop influenced them.

“Participating in the Summer School was a very enriching and intense experience. There I had the opportunity to learn and discuss planning and urban management issues focusing on sustainable practices. The best part was that I could learn a lot about Dutch urbanism and of many other places too, by the diverse group of more than 100 students who took part in the workshop.” – Camille Coussirat Piazza, Brazil

“The summer school made me acknowledge that urbanism evolves through interdependencies and that design as a strategy needs to be stretchable to absorb future transformations. The Dutch attitude to a collaborative and value oriented design approach altered my perceptions and finally made it clear that one needs to keep open for opportunities while steering towards a vision.” – Dhanya Mamallan, India

“My Experience at TU Delft Summer School greatly increased my teamwork skills. It exposed me to the huge diversity of our continent. Moreover, It was amazing working with people from different backgrounds.” – Ehujuo Nkem Nora, Nigeria

“Summer School at TU Delft was an eye-opening experience in the scope of planning and designing through sustainability. It broadened my horizon because I had to come out of my comfort zone and share this experience with a diverse group of volunteers. I not only benefited from the course but also from the people attending it. It developed in me the ability  to inquire more about different cultures and compare and contrast their ideas with my own.” – Melika Nateghian, Iran

“The best thing that I learnt during the program was valuing the diversity and the importance of acknowledging everyone’s role and hearing everyone’s voice to achieve peaceful societies and sustainable development.” Narjes Zivdar, Iran

“I learned a new approach to designing flood protection dams and the information about designing the first building on land in the Netherlands. It was important and interesting knowledge for me, because I am an architect.” – Arkhipova Iuliia Alexandrovna, Russia

“Back home, whilst I was still a student at the University in the school of built environment, we usually made it a point to compete and argue about what profession was better than the other and can be practiced without the help of other professions within the school. The summer school, in just a period of two weeks taught me that designing together with other professions brings in diverse perspectives that will help to develop a better sustainable environment.” – Natasha Precious Sakala, Zambia

“The workshop covered fundamental aspects and processes in understanding sustainable urbanisation. It helped me explore Netherland’s integration of water management and sustainability into urban development along with the SDGs and the New Urban Agenda. It was a firsthand experience for me and one of a kind opportunity that I don’t think I would’ve found anywhere else.” – Netsebrak Atsbeha Adane, Ethiopia


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