WDE Spotlight: STUDIO 1:1
In WDE Spotlight, we give the floor to various designers from the Embassies. This time, we talked to Eveline Visser and Lucas Zoutendijk from STUDIO 1:1, part of the Embassy of Urban Mobility. What are their backgrounds? What inspires them? What do they hope to achieve with their work? You can read it in this Q&A!
Can you tell us a bit more about yourself, your background and your design practice?
We are Eveline Visser and Lucas Zoutendijk, designers and founders of STUDIO 1:1. We both graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven (DAE) with the specialisation Man and Public Space. Eveline Visser also completed a master’s in Information Design at the DAE. STUDIO 1:1 is a creative multidisciplinary research and design agency specialising in public space. The focus is on social, ecological and spatial issues, which results in innovative projects at the interface of social design, architecture and landscape architecture, and urban planning/regional development. STUDIO 1:1 won the Green Architecture Competition for its innovative approach and has been nominated for the Dutch Design Awards. Because we are able to make the link between concept, creativity and design on one hand and between complex issues, ambitions and assignments (such as heat stress, flooding, and climate adaptation) on the other, we were selected as a Research Associate for the Strategic Creativity professorship at the Design Academy Eindhoven.
Your project Green for Gasoline is part of the Embassy of Urban Mobility during Dutch Design Week. What can you tell us about this project, what the whole process looks like, and what stage is it in now?
We started the Green for Gasoline project last year on behalf of the Embassy of Urban Mobility and, therefore in collaboration with several parties, including the municipality of Eindhoven. The project’s aim is less ‘Gasoline’ (cars) and more greenery, but of course, it isn’t quite that simple. We conducted extensive research into reference projects and processes because several cities have been looking for ways to make streets, neighbourhoods and districts more liveable for some time. One of the conclusions from this is that starting a process of communication and engagement with residents is essential. On the other hand, we took a broad look at other themes such as heat stress, flooding during peak rainfall, the structure of urban greenery, municipal sewerage plans, etc. By including these aspects in the argumentation about the street, neighbourhood or district where you ‘have to’ do something, this creates an integrated approach to the entire city. For example, it may be that the sewer system in a certain street will have to be replaced in three years’ time and that it also emerges that there is flooding in that area and that it happens to be in an area to look for an urban ecological connection. As far as we’re concerned, it then makes sense to start a conversation with a neighbourhood with these stacked goals and priorities with the question of how the new street profile could look with them in mind. We are currently working with the Embassy and the Municipality of Eindhoven to look for a suitable location for a pilot project.
Can you explain how your project relates to the story of this Embassy?
An important part of the Embassy is that people come first and that mobility is a means and not an end in itself. The Groen voor Blik project is a logical part of this because the quality of life is central to this project. How can we achieve liveable streets where it is green, not too hot, there is no flooding and where our children can play safely? We investigate whether and how the car (or other means of transport) is part of this future streetscape. Do they have to be everywhere in every street, or can we come up with better layouts for neighbourhoods to make streets more liveable?
You are a design agency that works on the interface between city and nature. Why did you choose to focus on this specifically, and what makes your approach unique?
Because in our opinion it is an exciting combination, where there is sometimes friction. The ‘hard’ side of the planned city, buildings, roads, and traffic. And the ‘soft’ organic side of nature, all the plants and animals in this urban area. Both worlds are interesting, and where they come together, it often produces contrasts and conflicting interests. It is also an urgent priority that the urban area is a healthy living environment. Greenery is vital for several reasons. It has a cooling effect, greenery retains rainwater during (peak) rainfall, and it has a positive effect on people’s mental and physical health.
What kind of design/project would you like to realise in the future and why?
We would like to design a ‘green icon’. This would be a landmark that puts the importance and value of greenery, biodiversity and climate adaptation on the map. With imagination and design, these themes can be experienced and understood by a broad target group. A municipality, housing association or water board can also use this to set its own ambition.
Can you name another interesting designer dealing with the same theme, and why is his/her work so strong in your eyes?
Graphic designer Joost Grootens. And in particular, the strong way in which he makes a complex amount of data visible in a clear, understandable, and (graphically) attractive way. In our projects at STUDIO 1:1, we always strive to provide clear insight into things like complex data, ecological knowledge or technical climate-adaptive systems. This can be done through graphic design and also through physical design in public spaces.
How do you think you can make an impact with your projects?
Impact maken is altijd wel ons streven en motivatie bij projecten. We ontwerpen altijd met scherp zicht op de doelstelling achter een vraag. De schaal en het type projecten dat we doen zijn vrij divers, maar in de ambitie zit de verbinding: een groene gezonde leefomgeving creëren. Tot die impact komen we bijvoorbeeld doordat we met een woningbouwcorpatie het ‘mutatieproces’ opnieuw ontwerpen, waardoor we op jaarbasis potentieel 2.500 tuinen van woningen vergroenen. Of doordat wij bij het project Groen voor Blik met nieuwe ideeën komen hoe de stad van parkeerplek-niveau tot straat, buurt, wijk en stadsschaal kan vergroenen. Het oppervlakte van alle parkeerplekken in Eindhoven bij elkaar opgeteld is 2.250.000 m2. Daar is dus veel impact te behalen!
If you could choose one person to work with (a scientist, artist, philosopher, biologist, designer, politician, anyone), who would you choose and why?
Prof. Louise Vet has been an ecologist and was director of the NIOO in Wageningen, the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), for twenty years. Louise Vet is best known as chair of the Delta Plan on Biodiversity, a movement in which nature organisations, farmers, citizens, knowledge institutions, governments and companies work together intensively to turn the loss of biodiversity into recovery in order to achieve systemic change. Her enthusiasm, motivation and perseverance are inspiring.
For/with which company would you like to do a project? And what kind of project would that be?
We think it would be interesting to do a project with/for the University of Wageningen (WUR). They have an enormous amount of knowledge and data. An example of this is an archive with hundreds of plants and trees and their root systems. At STUDIO 1:1, we are interested in making all this knowledge about ecology and biodiversity more visible and understandable through design and imagination.