Inventing an island

Inventing an island

 A pink stage, an exciting show and a varied audience. SLUISlab was officially opened in the Sluisbuurt on the Zeeburger-eiland on Friday 4 September 2020. The week preceding the event was fully dedicated to design-oriented research.

Kick-off Week

The traditional classroom plus teacher has made way for a small area of grass with a storage shed and the artists Rob Voerman and Davy Wouda, who coach the making process. Irrespective of the technical/practical capabilities of the students, here, on the edge of this desolate expanse of sand something is going to materialise. Within four days, participating students are visibly surprised by a DIY programme they describe as ‘out of their comfort zone’. ‘I thought we would just be walking to the building site and then going back to school’, says Glynnelle Ursule, who is a regular student on the International Tourism course in Diemen. Now, as a member of one of the chair teams, she has been working on a range of chair prototypes for three days.

Karel Koch and Kim Hagenaar, the key organisers from the new Sluislab who have set up this kick-off week, have provided only minimal information about the background of this event; it is left to those attending to find out for themselves. Any well-trained design thinker observing the exercise will recognise the 1:10:100 method. The models, made in one day, are converted into prototypes within a week for an initial practice test, after which the item will be tested on a larger scale in the field. The assignment is comprehensive, and Koch calls it ‘Inventing an island together’. As the first resident of the Sluisbuurt, Inholland has opted for an active role in the development of the city quarter; a metropolitan neighbourhood that must be built from the ground up; an ideal breeding ground for experimental and design-oriented learning.

  • Foto: Steef Fleur
    Foto: Steef Fleur
  • Foto: Steef Fleur
    Foto: Steef Fleur
  • Foto: Steef Fleur
    Foto: Steef Fleur

Sluislab in full swing

By the opening day, the transformation is complete; the informal appearance remains, but has now become more of an urban hang-out, with swinging benches, a show programme, a film crew and visiting stakeholders. In attendance are the Inholland real estate director, teachers from a variety of studies, the environmental manager of the municipality of Amsterdam and the Placemakers project manager.

Environmental manager Roelof Veen gives visitors a guided tour of the building site. The programme, for which the students themselves are responsible, demonstrates how a sense of ownership can be created within the space of a few days. Meanwhile, the ‘learning by doing’ concept remains central – also for the teachers and the others involved, as students practice presentation in front of a live audience. Placemaker Karin de Nijs, who is involved in the Sluisbuurt on an assignment from the municipality, has some handy tips for the students: talk to people on the island, take the time to test your concept and start small. As it happens, this is a perfect summary of what the students have been doing all week anyway. The lab is in full swing.

Foto: Steef Fleur

Team

Karel Koch, Kim Hagenaar, Mirthe van der Hee, Esther Bouw, Rob Voerman, Davy Wouda, Tom Visscher, Nico Grijpink and Conchita van Doorn.

Status

completed

Partners

Roelof Veen and Serge van Munster, gemeente Amsterdam