The Section of Urban Design at TU Delft organizes the Philip Spangenberg Travel Grant and book markets to promote fieldwork as a rich design and research method by financially supporting fieldwork for graduation students from any master track of the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment.
As such it connects to the legacy of Philip Spangenberg – urbanist and professional traveler – who, after his passing in 2009, donated his extensive book collection to the Urbanism department to replace much of the material lost in the 2008 fire in the old faculty building. The books that did not – physically and content-wise – fit the library were put up for sale in a book market in 2013 of which the proceeds laid the financial basis of the travel grant. Yearly book markets of subsequent donations from various individuals and institutions have strengthened these foundations. Please feel free to contact us for donations of any size of kind.
Each year, graduation students of all tracks can apply to the fund by sending in an abstract of their graduation research, a letter of motivation elaborating on the role and method of field work, one image from the ongoing research, and a travel plan including travel dates, mode(s) of transportation (preference for train travel within Europe), destinations, and field work activities.
Deadline of the applications is the Friday night before Christmas break after which the applications will be reviewed by a committee. The Philip Spangenberg Travel Grant aims to provide fifteen grants of 200,- each year. Reach out to Geert van der Meulen for details on this year’s edition of the travel grant.
In return, the fund collects one image per recipient of the grant, visualising their conducted fieldwork. This may be an illustration, collage, mapping, series of sections, video, accompanied by a short caption elaborating on the method of fieldwork in the graduation research and its role and value. Some of the submissions of previous years are exhibited below.
The aim of the photographic project was to capture the changing nature of the River Thames and its surroundings. Upon reviewing the literature for my thesis, I came to understand that the urban-rural binary that I had expected to observe is highly subjective and has shifted over time. Upon analysis, it became evident that when attempting to move beyond the aesthetic dimension and focus solely on the degree of infrastructural control, the conditions of urban and rural areas are almost comparable. My objective with the photo montage was to nevertheless, capture the contrasting nature of development and engineering along the River Thames and its surroundings, and to create a compelling narrative that explores the ways in which people interact with different environments.
The Philip Spangenberg Travel Grant helped me visit the Paraná River, where I could collect samples of soils, stones, wood and building materials (cultural layer), all present in the visualisation. Back in Delft, this fieldwork allowed me to: present the soil samples to an ecologist – who advised me on how to work with this types of soil in my design -; consult the materiality of stones and building materials to make designs of local and aesthetical values; and bring a bit of my location’s materiality to my audience, as suggested by Gunther Vogt in “Landscape as an Attitude” (2015).
Fieldwork is a very important aspect of my graduation project. As my project is dealing primarily with public space design in relation to density, experiencing public spaces within dense urban environments was highly beneficial for developing my perception on this matter. Furthermore, throughout the research by design phase of my project, I carried out several visits to my graduation project location (a multimodal hub in the city of Amsterdam), conducting on-field observations on the relation of people and space and particularly on how people interact and use space in the context of train station areas.
The fieldwork done in Paris was at Promenade Plantée. It is a park at the location of an old railway and thus lifted above the ground level. The fieldwork method used is based on the drawings of Jan Rothuizen, which are about the perception of a place. The drawing shows the eye-level perspective with text that describe the perception. This method is all about showing the elements that contribute to the perception of a place, but that cannot be shown in drawings, like noise and smell. Therefore this fieldwork method helps to understand places better.
The map on the right demonstrates “my” Paris after three days of intense explorations. Travelling on foot helped us to broaden our perception of the city even more as while walking, the field of vision expands to 360 degrees, allowing easily turn around, and spot objects nearby and far on the horizon. The map on the right allowed us to test the theory in practice when executing the task to travel to a chosen location very fast and then return very slowly. By bus, I went from Montmartre approximately 7 stops without knowing where I would end up. I sketched the objects we could spot through the bus window. Later, I tried to find my way back only by using memory and sketches. The experience thought me that while riding the bus, our perception and the object we saw was very fragmented and limited, while walking back, space looked entirely different. However, my sketches helped me to find almost the same route, getting a bit lost only in the end.