among the program topics of the bienniale for social design in utrecht, netherlands was the symposium and exhibition of an urban design research ‘united minds: hoograven invites you!’ analyses and visualisations of the urban area hoograven, that challenge visitors to join in thinking about social design and urban development, compiled by venezuelan based architects alfredo brillembourg and hubert klumpner.

architects, historians, critics and students discussing image © designboom

'united minds: hoograven invites you!' detail of the model image © designboom

‘at utrecht manifest we focus on the utrecht district of hoograven. one of the most distinctive cultural islands in the netherlands, this new town neighbourhood has approximately 15 thousand inhabitants, predominantly of moroccan, western saharan, and turkish origin. in the interests of integrating and revitalizing the area, utrecht manifest (in close cooperation with the hoograven district office) has initiated a project called hoograven invites you!

the hoograven district of utrecht is delimited and isolated by a bordering canal, elevated rail tracks, and motorways. within those boundaries are derelict industrial facilities, former agricultural tracts, some basic services and amenities, and housing estates belonging to three different authorities – all organized in a modernist urban plan that is both unrealized and unrealizable. an aging population of immigrants, primarily from morocco, lives overtly in tension with its own dutch-born children and with a more recent wave of immigrants. hoograven, in short, is a near-perfect laboratory for restructuring social, economic, and physical improvement in the long term.

the project includes buildings that work together as an open city, connecting and amplifying social networks. reflecting upon data collected by the utrecht students and local community members, these designs propose ways to examine planned development over time. the project opens up the potential for a place of social integration and interaction among different social classes.

we raised a variety of questions, and attempted to respond to it: what do the enormous numbers of immigrants mean for 21st century urban design and development? what notion of identity guides the attitudes and activities of individuals and groups in a neighbourhood like hoograven? what alternatives are currently being developed to describe and analyze today’s societies? how can participation in immigrant societies be encouraged and developed? how can bridges between and among diverse groups and interests be built? how do we overcome stigma and institutionalized discrimination? how do we establish opportunities for equal access for diverse groups without labelling them according to place of origin and ethnicity? what impact does diversity have on the dutch sense of culture, when culture still is decisively informed by the notion of nation? and how do cultural institutions respond to it? mobility and migration have proved to be a significant engine of creativity, especially in the arts: why do we not see the effects in major works of art, in performance, in institutions? is this a question that can only be addressed over time, or can we architects and designers catalyze the process through interventions, urban revitalization, and mediation?’

students from columbia university (new york), the utrecht school of the arts and utrecht university take part in the exploration of the future hoograven. exhibition design: traast + gruson

united minds: hoograven invites you! de pastoe fabriek in hoograven, utrecht, netherlands on show until 08.11.2009

'united minds: hoograven invites you!' alfredo brillembourg and hubert klumpner discussing their idea at the model… image © designboom'united minds: hoograven invites you!' and demonstrating their project plans. image © designboom

'united minds: hoograven invites you!' alfredo brillembourg introducing the three different hotspots: living area, art area and play area image © designboom

'united minds: hoograven invites you!' ‘livespot’

'united minds: hoograven invites you!' ‘artspot’

'united minds: hoograven invites you!'

'united minds: hoograven invites you!' ‘playspot’ for sports

'united minds: hoograven invites you!'

'united minds: hoograven invites you!' exhibition view image © designboom

'united minds: hoograven invites you!' visitors are invited to sketch their ideas with a marker on the tables which display parts of the hoograven area. image © designboom

'united minds: hoograven invites you!' photo collage showing different scenery and people of the urban situation of hoograven image © designboom

'united minds: hoograven invites you!' architects / urban planners alfredo brillembourg and hubert klumpner , curators of ‘united minds: hoograven invites you!’ portrait © designboom

alfredo brillembourg (born in new york, 1961) and hubert klumpner (born in salzburg, austria in 1965) are the principals of the urban-think tank in caracas. since 2007, both brillembourg and klumpner are professors of architecture, at the gsapp columbia university in new york where they have founded and direct the slum lab (sustainable living urban model). they have been curators of the 2006 rotterdam biennale. their work has been shown at the aedes gallery in berlin, the architectural league in new york, the sao paulo architecture biennale and the venice architecture biennale, 2006 and 2008. since 2007 they are collaborating with utrecht manifest on the development of social design alternatives in the netherlands. recently realized work includes: – vertical gym tm construction system – the five metro cable stations in san agustin – re-urbanization of the avenida lecuna along the #5 subway line. – school for autistic children

see also our article of the beginning steps of the project ‘hoograven invites you!’

utrecht manifest this biennial is intended to draw attention to the question of how and where the social is produced today: not thematically, which would be reductive of the complexity of the social, but by approaching the cultural models of which biennials are usually composed, such as the museum exhibition, the educational project, the model of the real intervention, and even the communication trajectory, primarily as social models that raise the question of what the need and urgency of social design is.

utrecht manifest 3rd bienniale for social design, utrecht, netherlands 4-17 october 2009