[Re]FORM: New Investigations in Urban Form aims to reposition the discourse of urban form within contemporary urban theory. Inspired by Henri Lefebvre’s seminal text Urban Form (1970), this conference aspires to provoke new investigations and debates on urban form and its relevance in contemporary urbanizations. Specifically, by acknowledging the fluctuating conditions of political, economic, and technological contexts and practices, this conference interrogates the meanings of “form” and its role in contemporary urbanization through the agency of the design disciplines, and gauges such discourses against the debates on urban theory situated within contemporary urban conditions and transitions.
Almost half a century has passed since the publication of Urban Form by Henri Lefebvre, the urban, as he avers, is — “a place of encounter, assembly, simultaneity” — which constitutes a logical form and embodies a kind of knowledge, has been vastly defined through geographical, political and economic substances and practices ever since. Particularly in the past three decades, emerging technologies have drastically challenged the idea of urban and its form ranging in scale from the planetary to the individual. The unprecedented urban complex generally prioritizes the practices over its agencies and thus obscures the logics of the urban upon which it operates. The process of contemporary urbanization produces radical phenomena and urban objects, yet prioritizing urban form as a key instrument for contemporary urbanization remains an elusive notion. Recovering the epistemological agency of urban form is a pressing matter.
Kees Christiaanse studied architecture and urban planning at TU Delft. In 1980 he joined the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) and was appointed partner in 1983. In 1989 he founded his own company, now KCAP Architects&Planners, in Rotterdam. In 1990 he co-founded ASTOC Architects and Planners in Cologne and was partner until 2002.
Kees focuses in his work on urban assignments in complex situations and on guiding of urban processes. He is an expert in the development of university campuses and in the revitalisation of former industrial, railway and harbour areas and is a supervisor of several international urban developments.
Throughout his career Kees has always combined teaching and research with his professional work within KCAP, which has generated fruitful cross-fertilisations. From 1996 until 2003 he held a professorship for architecture and urban planning at the Technical University of Berlin. From 2003-2018, he has been chair of the Urban Planning Institute of Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, since 2010 he has been involved in the Future Cities Laboratory (FCL) in Singapore. In 2013, he was appointed Chairperson of the External Advisory Board of the Architecture and Design Department of the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD).
In 2009, Kees was curator of the 4th International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR) with the title “Open City. Designing Coexistence”. He is author of a multitude of books and essays about architecture and urban planning. Kees has received numerous honours among others the lifetime award ‘2016 RIBA International Fellowship’ for his particular contribution to architecture and the ‘ARC17 Oeuvre Award’ for his lasting and innovative contribution to the improvement of the built environment.
Kees Christiaanse’s lecture, “Inversion and Subtraction in Urban Design,” will commence at 18:30 as the closing event of the conference. For more information and admission, visit the conference website.