Design & the City

Cities are complex and challenging environments where design plays a key role in solving situated problems and enabling sustainable social innovation. Cities also ask for innovation to deal with societal challenges and are a great context to foster further adoption of design. In other words, cities are both problem owners and living labs for finding solutions for today’s pressing societal challenges, such as environmental issues and climate change. The way cities are lived and used are oftentimes expressions of different stakeholders’ interests, aspirations and visions for the city. In other words, of the values they hold.

Within large and complex contexts such as cities, values and tensions among different stakeholder groups may not always be evident. Even so, it is not straightforward what needs to be done to enable their potential to support and inform value-driven innovation trajectories in the city.

In this course from the Industrial Design Engineering faculty of TU Delft, Master students investigated the presence of design-enabled innovation in the urban context and particularly explored the diversity of roles design can play in enabling mission-driven innovation in cities.

During the course students had the chance to get in contact with experts of the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus institute PortCityFutures; Carola Hein, Paolo De Martino and John Hanna, gave them access to their knowledge in the matter and to ongoing research and publications.

In the process of developing their values maps students focused on three port cities: Beirut, Naples and Rotterdam and their specific characteristics, values, and mindsets that make them prone to social and urban innovation. Ports and cities have become areas where port and city activities occur simultaneously and sometimes conflict. In a time of global challenges and the need for transitions, it is timely to investigate these territories, develop a renewed understanding of the internal dynamics of port cities, and recover a generative dialogue between ports and cities.

The final outcomes are Value maps. A Value map is a visual place-holder allowing the students to communicate the insights gained. The Value map’s aim is also making the insights explicit, it shows the conditions, values, and mindset present in the port city, in relation to the port city innovation ecosystem of initiatives and its capacity, to unveil trajectories for value-driven transitions.


Beirut group 1

Anniek Keijer, Jesuël Lanoy, Tamay, Lara Nettesheim

We researched the different initiatives for the port city and derived our main insights while putting them in relationship with the current situation of the considered city. Next, we explored the tensions we found between different actors when looking at the different niches, regimes, and landscapes of the city. When analysing these tensions, we came across new opportunities that we then incorporated into our final value map. The final value map represents the growing divide and distance between the Beirut citizens and its regime in a top-down hierarchy. Where the regime is shown at the top of the map, its citizens can be seen at the bottom, with each their corresponding qualities and values. The connecting lines present the tensions between these two actors and show how this can be related to our identified design capabilities. Beirut, the port city, serves as the common ground in the middle, with its social and environmental consequences. On the left and right sides of the x-axis, the design capabilities are mapped out with possible design opportunities. Finally, we reported sustainable recommendations to improve the city’s design capabilities and that aid the designer in its design process, especially for what concerns the potential use that the latter could do of the map. In our opinion in the common ground between the two actors, there are a number of phenomena that affect both of them, in particular the ones related to environmental threats. Because everyone is affected by the consequences of these circumstances, there is a chance for both actors to work together toward a common goal. This has the potential to bring these two actors closer together and create a Beirut identity again.

beirut value map

Beirut group 2

David Tiemstra, Adhityan Raja, Danique Drost, Megan van Mook

Beirut’s divisive history is indicative of its importance as a port in the region. From empires to colonial powers, leaders have often exploited the sectarian divide in Lebanon to fuel their own power generation and dominance. Although the Taif agreement briefly quelled tensions between religious groups, it is clear that a more modern, permanent solution must be found to the reoccurring power vacuum. Since values of secularism and sectarian divides cannot be easily solved or even distilled, in our research we sought to explore the role of comprehensive planning and partial planning in Beirut’s history. After a brief explanation of the history of Beirut as a port city, we have dived into the values of Beirut and its most powerful actors. This result is visualised in the value map. You can see the core issue holding Beirut back manifests on lower levels on the value map. The main actors cannot agree upon shared action despite holding the same values. This manifests on a high level as all parties on the map wish for a return to the prosperous Beirut form before the war but are unable to unite their efforts due to various conflicts, leading to a weak and divided city. The opposing groups are in the central ring, the values giving rise to the conflict in purple in the middle ring and the initiatives through which those values manifest in the outer ring. The two most important conflicts are between the government and the citizen and between the government and the NGOs. Both resulted from the government's failure to take coordinated and unified action in the reconstruction of Beirut.

As visible from the centre of the Value Map, there is a major conflict between the lack of comprehensive planning from the central government and the bottom-up approach through partial planning foremost from the (I)NGOs. Although values might not differ, the approach and central focus are different for each stakeholding group, leaving all of them without enough power to initiate any actual change. For Beirut to (re)develop, there needs to be a change from partial planning to comprehensive planning. According to the accompanying Design Capabilities map, this change can be made by the central government creating an overarching development strategy and allowing for other participants such as INGOs and  Universities to take a part in this development.

beirut value map

beirut capabilities

Naples group 1

Annie Aggarwal, Ariele Empirio, Anton Kozlov, Jens Roethof

Inhabitants of cities are asked to tackle a varied and expanding number of challenges. The complexity and scale of cities require looking beyond individuals and including groups and coalitions (de Koning et al., 2019). Ranging from societal issues to established problems of geography and space (Hein et al., 2021a), demands are not only placed on those physically close to cities but include a large web of other stakeholders. Cities which developed alongside a port can be even more challenging to analyse fully due to the maritime character and global connectivity (Hein et al., 2021a). The case of the city of Naples, Italy, is one which highlights the demands placed on stakeholders. There is great complexity present in understanding a city caught between its history as a port and its current land-bound obligations. The historically strong identity clashes with national obligations towards the European Union. Further urbanisation, especially when located in the blue space as defined by Brand (2007) contrasts with established specific maritime industrial assets (Jansen, 2021). In the case of port cities, it is common to experience conceptual disunion between the port and the city itself, as specified in this case they are separate entities. The reasons are multifold and involve social, economic and political matters (Harteveld, 2021). At the same time, the main players recognize the value of combining the future of the two of them. It is in this sort of paradox that professionals are moving. The complex landscape of a port city requires the inclusion of subjective perspectives within the city through advocacy of less dominant values and simultaneous promotion of interests in favour of a city that belongs to all. Visualising the values (emerging from stakeholder interests and actions for the presented value map) and skills of the distinct stakeholders allows the identification of conflicts and tensions as grounds for emerging opportunities. In order to serve as a tool for value literacy that attempts to make knowledge of tacit values tangible, we refer to various activities proposed by Hein et al. (2021b) in the form of identifying and collecting values (through initiatives and interactions with some experts) and conceptualising and visualising values (in the form of a value map). The value map may further be enriched through the participation of stakeholders in its development to further discuss, negotiate, elaborate and reflect on values, to serve as starting points for design interventions for transition in the city (Hein et al., 2021b). We propose a value map as an interactive tool to assist the various stakeholders of the city. Through the use of the tool, the various positions of stakeholders can be related to each other. As with a regular map, plotting a journey highlights areas of interest: existing conflict and potential opportunities. Aimed at being accessible to a wide range of Naples’ stakeholders, from local citizens to the municipality and from regional to national and European levels. We wish to achieve this wide accessibility by promoting the current map not as a finished product but rather as a tool. A tool to which Naples’ stakeholders contribute and through this participatory manner bring insights which can only be obtained locally but organised as a visual tool for dialogue amidst various stakeholders.




Napels group 2

Laila Fiedler, Caro Martellotto, Sinyoung Ahn, Anjay Valiyaveedu

Cities are a space for and of transitions. In cities, we find wicked problems which are defined as: "systems problems that exist within large, sociotechnical systems” (Irwin, 2019). That means that they are usually ill-defined and include various “[...] decision makers with conflicting values, and where the ramifications of the whole system are thoroughly confusing” (Wahl & Baxter, 2008). We designers can use this context as a reading ground for innovation. To start with, just by trying to define a city and its different areas we face one challenge: “[...] spaces become not so easily recognizable anymore, blur into each other, and seem like porous and fragmented” (Pittaluga, 2020). On top of that, they are constantly being modified and modifying their surroundings. In this course, in particular, we are working with port cities. The importance of port cities rests, among other things, upon the need to achieve a sustainable balance among the economic, social and environmental elements that constitute it (Lam & Yap 2019). The transitions taking form in and shaping port cities rely on diverse stakeholders and balance values and functions. Identifying port city stakeholders and initiatives active in the urban space was the starting point for the creation of a value map on values, tensions, stakeholders, actions and baseline infrastructures of the port city. In addition, at the concrete example of the timeline of a popular initiative in Naples, l’asilo, we have come up with a template that may be used by initiatives in the formation, spotlighting, driving and interrupting values. 
The result is a map divided into three main sections, represented by stakeholders, actions, and infrastructure, highlighting at the same time values and tensions. At the top level of the value map, the main identified stakeholders can be found. They are classified based on the Multilevel Perspective (Geels, 2002); each of them has different levels of power and influence, as well as ways of performing. On top of that, some arrows make the main relationships explicit.
The shared roles of stakeholders when everybody designs are shown in the actions section. In this context, design is a means to open up new perspectives on the shared values and/or tensions of society. Not only do expert designers play an important role here, but all the stakeholders – as diffuse designers – have the potential to contribute.
The infrastructures form the base of the value map. These have evolved through time and are an essential component for the function and functioning of the Port and the Port City. The design of infrastructures in the port, the city, civic, public and private areas vary. Moreover, in the case of Naples, (industrial) port and city areas are strongly separated; citizens would hardly come to enter the port area (De Martino, 2022). In the area at the bottom, these elements and the connections between them are shown.
In the interactive version of the map the main tensions on the right side of the value map, are unveiled through a clickable button. They arise and have power among the stakeholders, actions and infrastructures and are also divided based on the Multilevel Perspective.
In the same way, the values are shown. In our value map, values are intended as the main driving ideology for the action of each stakeholder and the reason for their successful activities or involvement in initiatives. 
To conclude, the map intends to show values and tensions arising in a port city. What is more, it considers the role of the designer in a port city – and of course the potential links and considerations to take when addressing issues in a complex port city system


Rotterdam group 1

Anne Moonen, Mare de Koning & Frederike Stortelers

The focus on the ‘purpose of (urban) spaces’ happened quite naturally. When looking for initiatives in Rotterdam, a lot of them revolved around the innovation of (urban/public) space. Also, we looked more into the initiative of Museumpark, which showed us the complexity of the relationship between residents and the municipality. Therefore, we decided to dig deeper into this tension between residents and the municipality and which parties were involved in topics that revolve around urban/public spaces in Rotterdam. When looking at tensions of public spaces in Rotterdam, we mainly encounter the port in the way it has shaped the culture of the city. Therefore, we have dived into its history and its relationship with the city. 
Then we looked at the current situation, and we developed a connection between the port and our value map. The Rotterdam municipality is aiming to connect the harbour area with the city area (Huis&Troost, 2014). To physically connect the two areas, a new area in between (e.g., Rijnhaven and Stadshaven) is proposed to be further developed with both parties. Because the harbour and city are so different from each other, it is hard for the areas to fully understand the problems the other area might have. This map can therefore serve as inspiration to deal with similar value tensions that may occur here. 
In conclusion, this map can help urban developers to get an overview of the diverse actors and values in relation to space(s) in Rotterdam.

How to use:
The goal of this map is to help urban developers find the actors (and their values) that might influence the space they are developing.

  • Determine what will be the purpose of the (new) space
  • Find which tension on the map this purpose belongs to, it could be multiple tensions (1)
  • Zoom into this area (2)
  • Look at the connecting factors (3)
  • Follow the arrows for the actors whose values meet at this connecting factor (4)
  • Read what the value is of each of the actors and research if they are also important for the new area
  • If so, contact these actors, for example through the connecting factor (3)
  • Zoom out again and look at the larger picture: might there be tensions that also affect the new area? Then repeat the process for this tension.


Rotterdam group 2

Marijn Veraart, Gustaaf Simon Pieter Kroon and Hendrik Christiaan Hasenaar

During the course we experimented with a variety of value maps and we discovered that the city of Rotterdam was not as straightforward as expected, disallowing us to place it on a neatly structured mesh or format. A city, especially a port city, has a high level of complexity, with almost a limitless number of details and the possibility to zoom out and consider stakeholders outside of city territories. One of the methods to learn more about the hierarchy of initiatives and other city stakeholders was to look at the city's niche, regime and landscape (Research Unit for Cultural Economics (Econcult), Universitat de València et al., 2021). Creating insight into the governance within and between the city and port, plus an overview of initiatives and their ability to break through and become part of the regime. During this process, we decided to zoom in on an initiative to generate novel insights into what it takes for larger areas to transform and create a link between port and city. This convergence led us to zoom in on the initiatives called Dakpark and M4H. These value maps that were generated from this process are also not structured through a clear format, as they are quite complex as well. However, the main outcome of these value maps is seeing the different values of different stakeholders, the relations between them (or not) and the tensions that arise from this. It can be useful for city makers, designers, spatial planners, and architects to gain insights from this when working on a new or existing area in need of transformation. Additionally, it has led to key insights into the elements required for successful transformation, which have been translated into a roadmap for transition within Rotterdam. 
Within transitions, it becomes clear that design can be a large part of it and can also largely affect the success of a transition. Managing stakeholders, mapping values and bridging disciplines are only a view of the functions design has in these processes. Besides designers, there are different stakeholders that can be included in the transition process that can act as designers. Design and the designer can in this case facilitate and co-create, which, as is the case for Dakpark can lead to bottom-up initiatives. 
In addition to that, we developed the step-by-step plan, a tool specifically meant for neighbourhoods where city and port functions are combined. This plan can be used in two ways. It can be used to analyse what functions of the neighbourhood are lacking to determine where the local government should focus on a successful and cost-effective project. Or it can be used in hindsight, to analyse past developments in the port. Based on the previous research on port cities and the in-class discussions, these port-city neighbourhoods have seven main functions. For our case study of M4H, these functions have been linked to the five desired functions of the municipality of Rotterdam (Gemeente Rotterdam, n.d.).