About life, not mobility

Type Update
Published on 13 December 2019
Part of Embassy of Mobility
Retrospective 2019: Embassy of Mobility
Part of Embassy of Mobility

In order to get to work, experience something or receive the care you need, you will usually have to move around. Mobility is a necessity. But is it also an end in itself? Traditionally we have developed cities from the perspective of efficiency. For cars and not for people. Now that many new developments have forced us to go back to the drawing board, we don’t want to repeat this mistake. Our vote is for a different perspective, in which design puts people first.

The Embassy of Mobility is looking for inspiring solutions in unchartered directions. At Dutch Design Week, the Embassy of Mobility revealed how the journey of the future will look. We did this by addressing a wide audience about tomorrow’s innovations. And about the brave choices that the future demands. Choices regarding new infrastructure, the use of mobility, perhaps even changes in legislation and regulations, and a shift in our focus from efficiency to quality of life.

Dutch Design Week

The objective during DDW was to collect issues from partners, visitors, businesses and youths that arose when considering mobility in the light of it becoming a means rather than an end. This enlightened the Embassy of Mobility on which issues it should try to get on the agenda in the coming years.

Photo by VNG
Photo by VNG

The issues that were picked up on during the week were given a prominent position in and around the Embassy. They were captured outside by renowned graffiti artists and inside in pictures and on signs. The Embassy of Mobility attracted more than 18,000 visitors.

Programme components

The programme comprised several parts, mainly workshops and debates in the pavilion arena.

For example, the debates focused on a better balance of traffic between urban and rural areas. Hugo Aalders (director of VNG realisatie), Monique List (alderman for mobility from Eindhoven municipality), Magdalena Piotrowska (regional director NS (Dutch Railways)) and Martijn Paulen (director Dutch Design Foundation) debated this. Taede Tillema (University of Groningen), Marise Bezema (Service NS) and Hans de Penning (Amber) discussed the opportunities for collective transport solutions. But the prospects of what would happen if we designed our mobility from the perspective of quality of life rather than efficiency were also shared. The discussion partners included Boyd Cohen (Iomob; Six Fingers), Iskander Smit (Delft University of Technology), Niek Verlaan (municipality of Utrecht) and Alwin Beernink (director of Park Strijp Beheer).

Photo by VNG

The aim of the Embassy of Mobility Theme Conference was to identify the most important mobility issues that stakeholders need to address. Speakers included Serge Hoogendoorn (Delft University of Technology), Francine Houben (Mecanoo), Boyd Cohen (Iomob; Six Fingers Spain), Carlo van de Weijer (Eindhoven University of Technology; TomTom) and Paul Sanders (municipality of Peel en Maas). They discussed the tension between quality of life and mobility together and with the audience.

Rijkswaterstaat, BEECK Ruimtemakers, Design for Care and Brabant C each organised a workshop discussing themes such as individual versus collective, climate versus economy, limited versus unlimited and quality of life versus efficiency. A hackathon was also organised with pupils from de Wilakkers primary school.

The exhibition in the Embassy of Mobility included the project ‘Synapse‘ by Bulgarian Nikol Kirova, one of DDW’s Antenna talents, who designs responsive paving tiles. There was also an interactive model of the ‘Journey of the Future’, developed by NS and Mecanoo. And there was a ‘Future data lab’ in which Rijkswaterstaat, VNG, the Province of Noord-Brabant and Enexis worked together on mobility issues combined with data visualisation live. Children’s playground equipment, made from traffic signs, expressed the ambition of placing quality of life above efficiency.

225 guests visited the Embassy as part of a DDW programme theme route. This included two international delegations from China and Seoul/Canada and a tour with representatives from Schiphol en Eindhoven Airport.


The publication list comprises articles in which the Embassy was mentioned, and publications in which the Embassy of Mobility was the focal point, including articles by the Financieele Dagblad and Marketing Tribune. The complete publication list can be found on our press page. You can also listen to the podcast about the Embassy of Mobility or watch the daily video journals.

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