Designing Strategy for Resilient Cities


Under the heading Design Strategies for a Circular and Inclusive Economy, Duzan Doepel began its session at Department of Design by convincing us that architecture and urban planning can create an inclusive society and empower people through urban improvement.

It is the simple cycle that begins with optimising urban processes, moving to a reduction of resources and on to improving lives. A cycle that should thus continue around again, and should always be our “meta-goal,” says Doepel.

With 41% of global emissions coming from infrastructure and buildings, it is important that we look to carbon neutral urban development. We should see “energy as an architectural layer” and craft buildings that are sustainable and energy neutral, says Doepel.

He stressed that so few architects are being trained with longevity and sustainability in mind that we are leaving the work to consultants, engineers and specialists. But this is an intrinsic part of architectural development that all players must participate in. There are incredible opportunities here, said Doepel who presented some of his projects proving how far ahead of the game his firm is in seizing these opportunities.

The examples show how to create successful closed-loop cycles that create value from every step in its system. They range in scale from products to strategic urban interventions. Recent works focus on reactivating vacant office space, climate adaption, new typologies for the changing retail market, zero-waste design and inner-city densification strategies. He uses three steps when approaching a project, with which one could transform the built environment and as “most buildings are mono-functional,” create diversity and value in the process:

  • REDUCE resource demand through design
  • EXCHANGE waste for value in processes
  • PRODUCE clean, healthy and valuable results.

Doepel presented his work in Jalisco, Mexico which will be a zero-waste tequila factory and community centre. This example demonstrated the need for projects to be climate and culture responsive. Also, that through analysing processes and waste streams entangled in a project one can create truly exciting economic potential.

Doepel Strijkers’ work in Rotterdam, the Netherlands with the Haka Recycle Office proved this idea. But it also engaged the local community and provided jobs by employing those previously un-employable, in this case, ex-criminals.

At Doepel Strijkers, Doepel said they “don’t just build, we monitor” the site, the building, the function, the image, the systems and their cycles. Houses and cities are seen as “material banks” which should look after the resources available to us. Not only with individual buildings but with the whole of our cities, Doepel urges us to “become shareholders” in space and think, invest and design long-term.

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