Symposium Integral Approach Public Space

In the program of the symposium helded on the 29th October 2020, the Integral Design Method for Public Space was presented and endorsed by the support of cities and ministries by signing a City Deal. Experts from different disciplines shared their work and experiences, emphasizing the importance of integrality, working at different scales and breaking down barriers. Cabaret artist and columnist Micha Wertheim wrote a summary piece about the afternoon and closed the symposium with a lecture.

Whose space is it?
This is the question that Director of Space and Sustainability Josja van der Veer asked the audience in the kick-off of the symposium. In the opening word she sketched the recognizable image of the cyclist with wet feet under a viaduct because the street is flooded with rainwater. A typical example that shows that there are many different interests around the streets of the city. There, the goals and ambitions of a liveable and sustainable city emerge. The invited speakers and the topics of the program pointed to different interests as answers to the question 'whose space is it?'. The Integral Approach to Public Space is a method developed to bring these interests together.

Integral Design Method Public Space
In addition to the example of wet feet, the city also suffers from enormous heat stress and drought in the summer. In the underground, space is needed for more electricity, data and new heat systems. Below ground level the space is full and the pressure is enormous. The public space not only contains what we see at street level, the soil is also public space.

Urban planners Joyce van den Berg and Hans van der Made from the Department of Urban Planning and Sustainability of the City of Amsterdam presented the Integral Design Method for Public Space (IOOR). For the complex challenges in the city, the IOOR provides concrete handles, processes and elaborations on how to make the best use of the limited space available in the city. It provides exact insights into the different levels of scale and typologies that exist in the public space and provides handles on how to link different parties and interests.
The aim is to create a flexible and livable city in which people work on changes and not on a static image. This is achieved by working innovatively, tackling issues at their own level of scale, dealing efficiently with management cycles and making smart combinations real.

City Deal
Different major cities (Leiden, Rotterdam and Amsterdam) and ministries (BZK and LNV) underline the importance of cooperation and integrality by participating in the City Deal Public Space.

Inspiring speakers and examples
During the afternoon, several inspiring speakers from different fields of expertise were invited to share their insights on integral work.
Keynote speakers Dan Hill of Vinnova, Stockholm and Kasper Guldager Jensen of GXN, Copenhagen gave inspiring visions and experiences on how working integrally and thinking differently can create concrete solutions for complex spatial issues. An example of a successful innovation was the mobility in Oslo, where the city offers shared bikes that connect with the city and its inhabitants. In a project he designed 4 streets in Stockholm whose main designers were the children from the school in the neighborhood. He depicted how streets change by giving back to the user and the citizens through an integral collaboration between citizens, builders, science and government.
Kasper shared his vision and work on a circular future in which  the value of circularity lies not only in the reuse of building materials, but also in the dialogue between government agencies and the industry. Dialogue leads to inspiration and if the city states intentions and goals, the industry receives directions to pursue How do you achieve those goals and directions? Through dialogue.

Following, four experts from different fields of expertise gave presentations on how integral work takes shape in their work and why it is so incredibly important. Berno Strootman Rijksadviseur voor de Fysieke Leefomgeving en Landschapsarchitect summarizes his insight nicely in a powerful sentence: Integral is complicated, but cheaper and better. In this sense, connecting different tasks and thus breaking through existing barriers is critically important for integrality. Gerda Lenselink of research institute Deltares explained how in their work in energy transition and heat an integral collaboration across the entire chain is needed. Marten Schoonman of Naturalis gave us the insight that biodiversity starts with the soil, where there is an enormous amount of life that is endangered by human intervention. The part was concluded by Sven Stremke professor of landscape architecture at Wageningen University and Academie van Bouwkunst. He showed research by students of the Academy of Architecture in which the importance of integral policy, research and funding by learning together and sharing experiences can address major challenges, such as the climate goals of Paris.

More information
Are you interested or do you have questions or remarks about the symposium or the Integrated Approach to Public Space? You can reach us at

Report written by Yurhan Kwee

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