Introduction to the Exploratorium Program

Organized by the Chief Science Officer (City of Amsterdam), We are here Venice & Het Nieuwe Instituut Dates: April–July 2020

Between the months of April and August 2020 the Exploratorium for 21st Century Values for Survival will take place in the context of the Dutch contribution to the 17th Architecture Biennale in Venice. The goal is to bring together practitioners from different backgrounds and disciplines with researchers, artists, and activists from Venice. Throughout the Exploratorium we will engage into methodologies and contexts in Venice; by doing things and reflecting on what we have done, we will explore values for the 21 st century.


The Curator of the Biennale, Hashim Sarkis, posed the question: ‘How will we live together?’ The Dutch Pavilion (as curated by Het Nieuwe Instituut) answers with the question: Who is We?. With this question, the Dutch Pavilion proposes two crucial approaches to new driving values for cities in the 21st century: Multiplicity of Other (Afaina de Jong) and Multispecies Urbanism (Debra Solomon). Around this Dutch contribution to the Biennale, Het Nieuwe Instituut asked Caroline Nevejan, Chief Science Officer of the City of Amsterdam (CSO) to set up a complementary programme that takes place in Amsterdam and Venice entitled Values for Survival. Part of this programme is the Exploratorium, which was initially set up as a summer university with 100 participants. Because of Covid-19 crisis, the Exploratorium is now carried out as an online research trajectory.

The aim of the CSO is not only to work in Venice but also for Venice. In order to reach this level of engagement with this city, the CSO collaborates with the venetian NGO We are here Venice, which bears the same sensitivity in its mission. Together they orchestrate the connection between different experts from science, policy, art, and design to collaborate on challenges that Venice and Amsterdam, two urban deltas, share. This online research initiative is organised and curated by the Chief Science Office of Amsterdam, We are here Venice in Venice and Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam. The members of the editorial team are Caroline Nevejan (Chief Science Officer city of Amsterdam), Jane Da Mosto (co-founder and executive director WahV), Eleonora Sovrani (researcher WahV), Marco Moretto, Zola Can and Pinar Sefkatli (producers).


The coming 10 years are crucial for the future of our planet. It will determine whether the temperature rise on earth can be limited to 2 degrees. Crossing that border means the end of the world as we have known as humanity (Rockström, 2019)[1]. The urgency in the decade ahead of us demands that we make radical shifts in the ways cities are organised, analysed and experienced, integrating responses to social and ecological issues into spatial and infrastructural design. To work on what is necessary, it is of great importance to engage different disciplines, practices, policies, methodologies, schools of thinking, as well as experts and non-experts, professionals, and students, individuals, communities, cities and regions. In order to do this, values need to be re-introduced in the way that cities are designed and lived, through which we can establish shared understandings and goals in city development in the coming future.

This title “Values for Survival” was coined before the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus. Seeing the planet’s ecology crumble, seeing the financial sector lose any sense of reality, seeing many people who feel more and more lost, the CSO saw the need to reflect on which values we need for survival. Within a few weeks, the outbreak of the global pandemic caused by the coronavirus Covid-19, with its heart-breaking consequences for many, has led to a steep rise in awareness of the global connectedness of humankind. The research programme Values for Survival explores thinking and design with which we can live and survive the current times of uncertainty and not-knowing. Currently, an online version of this research programme is being created, to which science and academia, policy makers and designers all contribute. The results of the programme will be translated into texts and images and presented and published in different Cahiers. The Exploratorium is part of this and its results will be presented in the second Cahier.

Thematic Tracks

The structure of the Exploratorium consists of 12 thematic research projects (tracks). All tracks are based on collaborations between Venice and other cities where the track leaders are based. The ambition is to develop the research reciprocally, create new knowledge and touch the limits of working together in the digital sphere. Each track of the Exploratorium will develop an online methodology in a collaborative effort to gather knowledge on 21st Century Values. At the same time each research project will explore different ways of working online, which will be documented and described in a digital and printed publication.


The Programme

The programme of the Exploratorium is organised in 3 parts, divided in the months of April to August. During the month of April, the track pairs are introduced to each other and explore shared interests. In the beginning of May, they will come up with a collaboration strategy for their track. The months of May and June will be dedicated to in-depth online research of each track theme. In the beginning of July, the tracks will deliver their results. After the submission, there will be a commentary process where the different groups will be asked to comment on each other’s work. This feedback exchange will also be included in the final publication. By the end of July, the publication will be finished and by the end of August it will be ready to be distributed.

The online research trajectory will be structured with moments of meetings and submissions. With public meetings (indicated below), we envision to share the development with a larger audience.

Documentation and Publication

The Exploratorium does not only focus on the results that come out of the research collaborations of the tracks but also aims to harvest methodologies based on the ways the tracks developed during the collaboration. Each participant of a track documents the steps taken in their trajectories through the 6 weeks. This way other people can also follow their progress. The updates will be published on Amsterdam Open Research Platform. On the basis of this documentation participants will contribute to the cahier which will be published in August.

The programme works with Creative Commons License under the principles ‘attribution, non-commercial, share-alike’, meaning that the track contributors are considered to be authors of their work, and the online and offline sharing of work will include the appropriate credit.


Please visit our website,, for further information on this event.


For any questions and your project submission, you can reach the organizers of the Exploratorium via the email address

[1] Rockström formulated the 10-year boundary in his acceptance speech for his honorary doctorate at the University of Amsterdam in January 2020.
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Afbeelding credits

Header afbeelding: Marco Moretto

Icon afbeelding: Marco Moretto