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Face Your World PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Kuniko Vroman   
Apr 23, 2006 at 10:43 PM

Dennis Kaspori, Jeanne van Heeswijk

inclusive urbanism, new media, education, youth, park, public dialogue, urban curating, open source architecture


During the first half of 2005 an unusual project took place in Slotervaart, initiated by the Rotterdam artist Jeanne van Heeswijk and architect Dennis Kaspori. It involved the design of the Staalman Park, which, together with the Brede School which stands next to it, is to form the new heart of this neighbourhood in Amsterdam West. The point of departure for the project was not only to arrive at a design for the park, so that it could function as a meeting place for residents of various ages and cultures, but above all else, to bring this about with the participation of the future users, including children, students and other neighbourhood residents.

The Stedelijk Lab project Face Your World allowed young people to investigate their own surroundings, and gave them instruments for changing their environment, as real urban planners. An important facet of Face Your World is what is called the Interactor. This specially-developed multi-user 3D design software enables users to themselves design their neighbourhood in a network environment, and to make adjustments as necessary at any random moment in the process. In July 2005 the presentation of the final results – well attended by the neighbourhood – took place in the presence of district politicians and the Secretary of State for Culture, Medy van der Laan. It is nice to report that the design – including the many details that were worked out by the neighbourhood team – will apparently be realised.

in October 2005 The Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam has hosted a presentation of the process and the end results. The presentation consisted of various workshops and panel discussions. The Sandberg Auditorium was rebuilt as an information studio in which visitors will be informed about the project and where it will be going from here. Neighbourhood participation, political decision-making and creative thinking are intertwined with one another. In these discussions there will be attention given to, successively, the complex relationship between visual art and resident participation, the problems surrounding the large-scale operation of urban renewal, and the challenge of involving a cultural dimension in an urban design assignment.


The project Face Your World enables young people to investigate the environment in which they live. It gives them instruments so that they can – like a genuine town planner – change their environment. In the Netherlands this project was set up as a VMBO (lower secondary professional education) school project under the supervision of artist Jeanne van Heeswijk. The software that was customized for this project - the so-called Interactor – is an interactive current impression of the neighborhood and features a virtual town planner who functions as a coach when making new plans for the neighborhood. In January 2005 and with the support of the AFK programme, Face Your World started the Stedelijklab (Urban Lab) in Amsterdam’s borough of Slotervaart. This project is a pilot for the Netherlands and can, in principal, be used in every elementary syllabus of the VMBO as an instrument for designing one’s own environment. The initial results will be presented in Slotervaart on July 5th. Face Your World - Interactor software

Jeanne van Heeswijk developed Face Your World in 2002 for Columbus, Ohio. This was in cooperation with Wexner Center for Arts, COTA (Central Ohio Transport Authority) and the Greater Columbus Arts Council's Children. A city bus was converted into a digital workshop for children aged 6-12. In cooperation with SKOR who also commissioned the project, the Interactor was researched to see whether it could be further developed for the lower grades of the VMBO.

Stedelijklab Slotervaart (Urban Lab Slotervaart)

Based on tests the software was further developed into a completely renewed Dutch version featuring extra options and catering to a slightly older target group (ages 10-15). Based on this 2.0 version and with the support of SKOR and the AFK, the pilot project started out in Amsterdam’s borough of Slotervaart.

In the Stedelijklab which is essentially a gym hall converted into a design studio, students of the Professor Einstein elementary school and students of the Calvijn Junior College (lower secondary professional education) designed a new park. The park is to be named Staalmanpark and will be located next to the square. The students worked together with Van Heeswijk, Dennis Kaspori, Slotervaart’s design department and outside experts. The designs were not only based on their own wishes but also on those of other local residents. In addition to this the design needed to satisfy certain conditions. As a result young people learn to make conscious choices and the results of this are tangible since the park will actually be realized by the borough.

Face Your World

Jeanne van Heeswijk

Dennis Kaspori

Last Updated ( Aug 07, 2006 at 01:56 AM )
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