Summer school

Urban Transitions: Reshaping Urban Districts (Amsterdam & Bologna)

Turn your research into practice with the two-week PhD summer school on improving Urban Districts. Two case studies in Amsterdam and Bologna will challenge multi-disciplinary participants to shape the urban landscape and its community

Organised by Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions, Climate-KIC, SENSE

Sun 16 July 2017 until Sat 29 July 2017

Venue Amsterdam & Bologna
“It was a very inspiring experience. I have learned to look at things in a completely different way, and I am expecially happy about the focus on economizing the ideas, because it is not something that comes naturally to me“.
“I would like to congratulate the program on bringing in such a diverse group of students, challenges and experts!”.


Connecting PhD students from around the globe, the Catapults are hubs for new ideas with interdisciplinary approaches. Combining knowledge from various disciplines, new skills are acquired and innovative ideas brought to life. A combination of discussions with international academic experts and practitioners, creative transferable skills sessions, inspiring workshops, site visits and assignments create a unique learning experience for our students. In addition to the delivery of knowledge and skills, the programme is about connecting people and ideas.

Case 1: Amsterdam Overtoomse veld

In the neighborhood Overtoomse Veld, situated in the West of Amsterdam, housing corporation De Key owns housing complexes that are in the start-up process of retrofitting. They were built in 1958, and they are mostly in their original state. Maintenance has not been done for the past 15 years, so the apartments are in poor shape. There are problems with moisture and mould, and infrastructures for heating and ventilation are out-dated or malfunctioning . The energy label of the houses is low, on average an “E”.

The area Amsterdam Nieuw West has a mixed population: about 60% is of non-Dutch origin. The apartments are relatively big (60-80 m2, with up to 5 bedrooms) and the rents are relatively low (400-550 euro on average). They are occupied by bigger families and elderly, many of which of lower income groups of first to third generation migrants. It is expected that part of these residents do not speak Dutch.

The challenge is to develop a strategy for implementation of energy conservation measures like wall insulation, mechanical ventilation and double glazing, to contribute to a better energy label (in this case from E to B) of the building. However, energy performance in terms of energy consumption does not necessarily follow because it depends on future behavior of the residents, therefore an additional challenge is to recruit residents into the retrofitting project. Based on earlier experiences De Key expects resistance towards the project. That is why they want to develop a strategy to involve residents and to ensure their approval so that the project can proceed smoothly.

Case 2: Bologna Sant’Orsola District

The Sant’Orsola District is a very specialized site close to the city center of Bologna that hosts the city hospital and key medical facilities according to a consolidated concept of the past where a number of hospital pavilions were aggregated in a wide green area within the city. On the one hand, this makes the site and the services directly accessible from the historic city by the several user categories visiting it every day. On the other hand, its specialized functions limit the use of outdoor spaces and reduce the possibility of integration with the surroundings.

Sant’Orsola district is facing an ambitious renovation process aimed at strongly reducing energy demand and emissions while increasing the quality of services and working/living conditions for both users and staff. The challenges for this case are to define innovative retrofitting methodologies, connect the site and the surroundings providing additional services, develop solutions for considering end users’ behavioral implications in the process, define new arrangements for outdoor spaces while considering the business side and feasibility of solutions.

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