Metropolitan Club 1: Challenges that define the new urban project

On 29 June 2021, the section of Urban Design organized the public debate ‘Challenges that define the new urban project’ as part of the series ‘The Metropolitan Club’.

The Metropolitan Club is an event series hosted by the Section of Urban Design. Students, professionals, experts, and educators come together to explore on-site projects and engage with the Dutch practice. The first event of the series will be held to critically reflect on the current state of the urban project in the Netherlands and the future role of urban design.

Currently, a series of urban crises challenge us to rethink the role of urban design in the production of the built environment and the education necessary to train the next generation of designers. The climate crisis and the water level rise question the quality of life in cities. The housing shortage and the COVID 19 pandemic increase further existing inequalities in cities and urban regions, producing fast growth and shrinkage situations. At the same time, digitization changes the way we think and act, paving the path for new ways to evaluate, govern, and produce space. This also informs how designers aim to build cities more inclusive, improve the living standard and enable citizens to engage in public life. Yet, it is not clear which approaches, processes, and methods are suitable to achieve such goals. At the Metropolitan Club, we want to discuss design’s potential to create synergies, to integrate different fields of knowledge, and to rethink and reshape the built environment in this process of urban transformation.

Drawing on the Delft tradition of urban design at the faculty of Bouwkunde at TU Delft, the 2021 Metropolitan Club series was dedicated to the discussion about the agency of design in the process of urban transformation and the way education and training may help to pave the path for the next generation of designers. We have invited experts and practitioners from the field of urban design in the Netherlands to present and discuss their views on the future role of design.


  • Daan Zandbelt, Partner De Zwarte Hond,  former rijksadviseur voor de fysieke leefomgeving.
  • Like Bijlsma, Department of Spatial Planning and Quality of the Local Environment, PBL.
  • Henk Ovink, Special envoy to the United Nations, Water Ambassador of The Netherlands.
  • Mattijs van Ruijven, Head urban planner, City of Rotterdam.
  • Alumni: de Urbanistas.
  • Dirk van Gameren, Dean of BK, TU Delft.
  • Maarten van Ham, Head of Department of Urbanism, TU Delft.

Introduction: Tanja Herdt, Associate Professor of Urban Design.
Discussion moderator: Paul Gerretsen, Vereniging Deltametropool.