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Belgium: Sonian Forest Urban Design & Environmental Planning field school
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Belgium: Sonian Forest Urban Design & Environmental Planning field school

Pre-approved for 10 CECs under SER's CERP program

7/5/2020 to 8/1/2020
When: Sunday, July 5, 2020
Where: Groendaal
Contact: Institute for Field Research & University of Leuven, Belgium

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Urban design research is a means to understand the most pressing challenges in the contemporary built environment. Flanders’ legacy of urban history and its present-day land consumptive tendencies stress natural resources and are an ecological crisis in the making. The consequences of climate change are exacerbating threats. There is the urgent necessity to significantly overhaul the modes, morphologies and typologies of settling. Context-embedded urban design and its interplay with visionary environmental planning is necessary to address the precarious stage of development humanity and nature now find themselves. The Belgian field school in urban design and environmental planning is grounded in the belief in both state-of-the-art design thinking and practices (including innovation from the disciplines of engineering, transportation, and ecology) and local intelligence of places as expressed in specific appropriation of techniques and relation to socio-cultural practices. 

The students will be taught a series of fieldwork methods that are tailored to the local context and which will allow for a deeper understanding of both larger landscape systems and their appropriation by local inhabitants for living and working. Drawing, as is a habit in the design professions, will be a method of synthesis for the fieldwork and design thinking will be complemented with lectures which highlight relevant case studies. Feedback and interaction with local experts and stakeholders will ground both the fieldwork and future scenarios and the design of new morphologies and typologies in the context. Besides the techniques that participants will be made acquainted with, the learning-by-doing approach of the field school will give the participants a unique experience of practicing urban design and environmental planning in a “living lab”, where interdisciplinary inputs are combined with extensive exchanges with stakeholders of various kinds, ranging from local communities until high ranking government officials and everything in between. 


CECs: Pre-approved for 10 CECs under SER's CERP program