Van Eesteren Fellowship

The Van Eesteren Fellowship is an initiative of the EFL Foundation. In terms of content, the fellowship focuses on design-based research at different scales and the contribution of design power to investigate metropolitan issues and translate them into new and future-proof concepts. As of September 2019, Caroline Newton is the new holder of the Van Eesteren Fellowship as associate professor at TU Delft.

The ambition of the five year fellowship is to put an engaged and inclusive approach to planning on the agenda, whereby spatial justice is a leverage and design research an enabler. 

The kind of planning we need today looks different from that of the past. Commonly, management approaches or strict land use plans and master planning addressed urban challenges. These plans’ effects on people’s everyday life were often neglected. What we need today is a strategic approach that is grounded in a powerful and positive vision, that is unapologetically ethical. An approach that engages with the urban reality, with its messiness and complexity, acknowledging that urban spaces are those spaces where people need to make a living and find opportunities to flourish and thrive. 

Planning needs to engage with this reality, not merely addressing it as a problem that needs to be solved. Seeing the seeds of possible better futures and acting on these using projective design, planning has the potential to make a difference. 

If this is the future for the planning practice, then what is expected of us, planners and urban designers? 

We need a renewed engagement of urban professionals and the coming back of advocacy at the forefront of planning and spatial practices. As planners and designers, we can develop unapologetically ethical planning strategies as acts of resistance, enabling alternative spatial scenarios and urban futures. 

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