inter-disciplinary and inter-university scenario planning project on Rotterdam Airport and environs

At Delft Technical University students researched and developed strategies for a 'new' Rotterdam Airport. Based on current political, spatial and economical trends the envisioned new program, positioning an ambitions for the changing regional airport. Simultaneously a group of students at SCI-Arc Los Angeles studied comparable regional airports in California. Results were shared during the process of investigation to stimulate collaboration and shared knowledge. The project culminated in a weeklong workshop in The netherlands were both groups presented and discussed.


concept, coordination & management, tutoring

project setup

‘Rotterdam Airport Scenarios’ is a design / research project for international master students architecture at the Technical University Delft, faculty Architecture. The project investigates a complex urban / landscape area in which major developments concerning infrastructure, housing, industry and recreation are found in a mix with political, cultural and economical ambitions. Its aim is to generate a series of scenarios that unveil both the seemingly obvious as well as more obscure and exiting potentials for the area covering developments between Rotterdam and The Hague.

The area is characterized by a broad variety of future developments that range form new railroad systems and structures (Randstad Rail and Stedenbaan), redevelopment and extension of the highway network (A4 and A13), industrial area developments (Technopolis and Schieveen), the redevelopment and extension of Rotterdam Airport and the existence of an ecological area (Groen-Blauwe Slinger).

Driven by notions about ‘design intelligence’ – a notion forwarded by guest tutor Michael Speaks – the investigation will find its core in scenario planning and can be characterized as process oriented. Based on in depth analyses on driving forces, strengths & weaknesses and critical uncertainties, the potential of the area will be merged with similar analyses on social, technological, ecological and political opportunities and ambitions. Results from these analyses will lead to scenarios that find a catalyst in proposals for the redevelopment of Rotterdam Airport focused on a relocated and programmatically tuned new airport terminal building. Following techniques and methodologies closely related to the aforementioned ‘design intelligence’ the architectural (and catalytic) element within the assignment will be researched and designed making use of techniques like rapid prototyping.

Combining simultaneously the scales of urban developments and architectural ‘detailing’ will offer possibilities to exchange techniques and methodologies that are mainly developed to facilitate either one of the ‘scales’. The project will be supported by extensive tutoring, regular visits of Michael Speaks (two seminars/workshop sessions) and involvement of stakeholders and experts as lectors and guest tutors.

Simultaneous with the TU Delft project Michael Speaks will run a research seminar at SCI-Arc, Los Angeles in which with similar techniques and methodologies an analogous condition of a regional airport will be investigated. A combined website will facilitate an intense exchange of information and experience between the students, staff and visiting experts of both TU Delft and SCI-Arc offering a broad and varied international pool of expertise informing the local analyses and scenarios. A ‘traveling’ exchange of a selection of students, staff and experts will further enhance both the insights in methodologies and local conditions as well as stimulating the general expertise.

The project is both a part of the architectural curriculum for international master students at the TU Delft as well as a spin-off from two DSD initiated seminars with Michael Speaks on Design Intelligence.
The research project itself resorts under the responsibilities of the department of architecture, in this case prof. ir. Umberto Barbieri and coordinated by ir. Filip Geerts. Together with a theory seminar and a series of architecture lectures it forms the first semester program for the students. Especially the theory seminar will be tuned to the specific content of the research project offering readings on design intelligence. In content it will run parallel to the seminars for PhD students in the DSD run by Michael Speaks. Speaks will appear specifically for the research project students with a program set to facilitate their investigations during a first seminar/workshop.

A second workshop will focus on a first set of scenarios developed by the students and will offer an intense insight into more refined scenario planning aspects by experts operating on a daily basis in the investigated area.

The Province of South Holland will partner in the organization and content of the project. It will facilitate a ‘real-life’ context for the project and thus offering the necessary input to investigate in depth a series of scenarios for the area. PZH will offer insights and connections to planned developments and (future) stakeholders. All necessary information for a serious research will thus be available. The alliance with PZH will also ensure a broad variety of experts and critics. The developed scenarios will feed discussion with and within the PZH concerning the development of the area.

Synchronized with the ‘Rotterdam Airport Scenarios’ project is a research seminar at SCI-Arc for graduate students under guidance of Michael Speaks. It will investigate the redevelopment of a regional airport and it surroundings in Los Angeles. The similarities between the two projects (TU Delft and SCI-Arc) will offer the possibilities to exchange local and universal notions on all levels, thus unveiling both extremely local conditions as well as trigger more unconventional proposals for either investigation due to the differences between the two locations and contexts.

Students from both schools will be teamed up through a dedicated website in order to exchange ideas, developments and so on. This website will function as a platform for stakeholders and tutors as well.

Delft Technical University: Chun Kit Chow, Ilaria Giardiello, Rachel Keeton, Alper Kiremitçi, Sun-Ming Lee, Ania Molenda, Guoqing Wang, Ke Zou
SCI-ARc: Scott Abukoff, Sylvia Bay, Gurmukh Bhasin, Kenneth Cameron, Vilhelm Christensen, Dumene Comploi, Marten Dashorst, Dean Demko, Kyla Farrell, Jerry Figurski, Julia Fuller, Kimberley Henry, McCall Hollman, Vanessa Hooper, Dohyung Kim, Takeshi Kobayashi, Guy Kraus, Merk Lavin, Calvin Lim, Tien Luong, Terri Moore, Chad M. Moorte, Marc Riera, Ana Paula Ruiz Galindo, Mishou Sanchez, Atsushi Sugiuchi, Benjamin Smith, Karen Thompsen, Alice Voong, Keven Yan, Richard Yoo, Sernhong Yu

Siebe Bakker, Michael Speaks

Miriam Ram

Francisco Colombo, Kees Dorst, Wim Eikelenburg, Paul Gerretsen, Bjarke Ingels, Dennis Kaspori, Tali Krakowski, Michael Speaks

Province of South Holland - Henk Ovink
Delft School of Design - Marie Goyens, Deborah Hauptmann

bureaubakker, DSD, Michael Speaks

Rotterdam Airport Scenarios has been made possible through contributions by the Province of South Holland