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Rotterdam city planner Marc Verheijen digs deep into infrastructure, plus Simon Fraser University’s dutchDesign films and a catalogue David Adjaye’s collaborations.

Book by Marc Verheijen
nai010 Publishers (softcover, 224 pages)

For Rotterdam city planner and former OMA manager Marc Verheijen, a city’s web of streets, tunnels, bridges, paths and rail lines is ripe with potential. He argues that the channels people use to move their goods and themselves – the design of which he calls “infratecture” – are the crux of the cultural, ecological and economic changes that are needed to prepare cities for the future. The author presents 30 international case studies that spotlight the joint efforts of designers, engineers, planners, government and even citizens, grouped by such themes as Transfer, Bridging and Art.

Some are familiar, including New York’s Grand Central Terminal (a building integral to the city’s transit system); others less so, such as Lyon’s years-long plan to move 12,000 parking spaces from the city’s streets, a manoeuvre that eased crowding and made the city safer and more enjoyable for pedestrians. Verheijen’s concise examples, amply illustrated with photographs and diagrams, make for a vivid reminder of how design is key to a livable urban environment. By Kendra Jackson

Website by Simon Fraser University

Since 2011, senior design students lucky enough to attend Simon Fraser University’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology have had the oppor­tun­ity to participate in dutchDesign, a biannual field school that offers a semester in the Netherlands. The program’s highly visual website reports on their research, capturing urban interventions in Eindhoven, or walkthroughs of the Paris metro. But the real highlight is a collection of interviews with design world notables.

Each of these immaculately produced videos, roughly 10 minutes long, explores a single theme: industrial designer Matali Crasset speaks of design as the creation of scenarios for living; architect Winy Maas of MVRDV explains the importance of conveying identity through the structures we inhabit; and Ronan Bouroullec stresses the need for contextual awareness. Local personalities are included as well, illuminating the scope of Eindhoven’s design sensibility as they talk about tech-infused bicycles, locavorism and typography. Prospective students and seasoned pros alike will find plenty of food for thought. By David Dick‑Agnew

David Adjaye: Collaborations
Film by Oliver Hardt
Signature Films (50 minutes)

The only element common to each project by renowned British architect David Adjaye is that there isn’t one. Rather than flaunting a signature style, or replicating his earlier work and wrapping similar gestures around different purposes and places, his buildings are individually devised and driven by context. The interviewees in this feature-length documentary reinforce that impression when describing their interactions with the architect and his work. Assembled by the Haus der Kunst in Munich and the Art Institute of Chicago to complement a major exhibition of Adjaye’s work, Collaborations brings together a range of clients, curators and others who have worked closely with him over the course of his career.

While these conversations are at times less commanding than the buildings that serve as the film’s backdrop, it’s a testament to Adjaye that rather than talk about how well they worked with him, each collaborator is compelled to discuss how well his buildings work – with people and with their surroundings. By Erin Donnelly

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