Arts & Urbanism

Urbanisation is a fact across the world. You might even go as far as stating that the city is an undeniable part of life for many people. Since 2007, more people are living in cities than in rural areas. According to the United Nations the number of city dwellers will increase from 3.6 billion, i.e. half of the global population, to 6.3 billion in the next 40 years. This is an astounding 70% of the global population which is estimated to grow to 9 billion in this time. This must result in encroaching urbanisation.

The world has seen the rise of megacities such as New York, Mexico City, São Paulo, Delhi, Mumbai, Shanghai and Tokyo, each of which has more residents than the total population of the Netherlands. The growth of the global population, the move from rural areas to the cities and technological and ecological developments are changing our world at a rapid pace.

Academics, politicians, architects and urban planners have addressed this issue and have tried to both understand this phenomenon and to keep it under control. Designers and artists have also been fascinated with the city and urbanisation. We are forced to learn to live in increasingly complex realities and have to ask ourselves how our world will look in the future and what the consequences are for our living environment and for us.

Learning objectives

The urban experience is completely different from the experience of someone who lives in a village in a rural area. The continuous growth of cities gives rise to the question how urban life affects our daily lives by a constant bombardment of stimuli, a 24/7 fast-paced process in the middle of cultural diversity. You will apply your artistic perceptions and experiences to develop creative ideas, projects and images that match the theme.

In the Arts & Urbanism programme we address the following questions: Can we think about urbanisation in a visionary way as creators? How will daily life in the city be in 20 or 50 years? What types of facilities will people need then and how would you design these? How will people communicate and interact with one another? Will we become more individualistic and what would that mean? Or will we once again search for social belonging within a group? How does the urban experience affect the way we feel, think and do things? And what does it mean for your position and work as an artist or designer?

Challenges and assignments

The design of the city largely determines our daily lives, the way in which we experience the city and how we behave in it. The city appears contrived and manufactured. It manipulates you into participating in the urban way of life. As an artist, designer or as a city dweller you can either participate or resist: you can oppose the system. You can resist, because you are lacking something or because you disagree. You could attempt to sabotage city life or give form to doom scenarios. But you can also use the structures in the city to enact change by using different points of view and approaches.

Within the multidisciplinary group you will research the city life to explore the possibilities, opportunities and dreams for artists and designers. We will go out on several excursions and organise encounters with creators who address the topic of the city. The presentation of your work at the end of the semester holds up a mirror and provides an alternative view of and coherent vision on the quality of the environment.

Training goals

Project work

In the projects you learn how you can move through the reality of the city as an artist or designer and how you can experience this through your work by using different approaches: Design, Documentary and Autonomous. You learn to have an informed perception of your inspiration source and to use your observations to effect changes.

This is an intuitively creative process in which experimentation and chance play an important role, but also during which you learn how to analyse and refine your own creating process.

Research skills

The theory lessons enable you to practice essential research skills. These include targeted reading, quickly processing information, distinguishing central points, identifying the essence of an argument, using and applying lesson materials verbally and in writing, debating, creating an informed opinion and formulating counterarguments. All this helps you to develop your own visual point of view to benefit your development as an artist or designer.

Presentation skills

Through this you will learn to clearly define your interpretation about one of the areas of research and to present the results of your own visual research. You will get chance to discover how the audience will respond to your work and how it influences their thoughts. What are you as an artist or designer capable of with the city as your source of inspiration, research object and platform?

This programme is part of the Bachelor in Fine Art and Design at the AKV|St.Joost - School of Fine Art and Design.