On 1 September, three landscape architects, Bertram de Rooij, Michael van Buuren and Pieter Boone, made a start on preparing the Alterra stage for research-by-design. Inge Vleemingh will join them on 1 December. The move fits in with Alterra’s ambition to give research-by-design a more permanent and prominent position in the organisation.
“As designers, we are keen to show that research is an important part of our work too,” says Pieter Boone, speaking on behalf of his colleagues. “We think that the design discipline can play an important role in research. Our aim is not to set up a ‘design office’, but make our specific contribution to Alterra’s work on applied research: research–by-design or design-by-research if you prefer. This approach focuses on the interface of scientific research and design. A design approach can have numerous benefits: you can explore an unknown or uncertain future, search for alternatives and employ the powers of the imagination. We often rely on three main principles: innovating, linking and imagining. On a future occasion we will be happy to go into this in more detail with anyone who’s interested.”
The four landscape architects come from the Government Service for Land and Water Management (DLG), which will be discontinued as of 1 January 2015. As a result, the knowledge and expertise at DLG will be spread out over the provincial and national authorities. This includes knowledge and expertise of rural design. DLG’s was the last design team working for the central government (35 people). Not all of the designers will find employment at the national and provincial bodies.
Over the past few years, the spatial planning and design department led by Pieter Boone has made a clear step in the direction of more fundamental, generic projects, applied research, process innovations and practical surveys on a range of topics. Each of the four architects now joining Alterra have a wealth of experience of designs, policy areas and themes that fit in with Alterra’s green domain. They have worked on projects in agriculture (CAP, agrofood clusters, urban agriculture), energy (wind at sea and on land, biofuel), biobased economy, nature (the National Ecological Network (EHS), N2000, ecosystem services), heritage (redesignation, New Dutch Water Line), water and climate (Delta Programme, Room for the River), urban-rural relations, and more. They have also worked abroad.
Pieter Boone: “As landscape architects, we always focus primarily on the content. But we are also involved in the process, particularly in terms of trying to reconcile support for the policy with local support. Matching facts (research) with wishes is another of our strong points. I feel confident saying that we are very good at this coordinating aspect of our work. A lot of you will have heard of the DLG’s Schetsschuiten (design think tanks). We were instrumental in these innovative sessions and will definitely bring the method with us to develop at Alterra. We are proud to be joining Alterra, a renowned institute in the field of research. Applied methods, such as the design approach, will supplement scientific research in the quest for solutions to problems in society, districts, regions and local neighbourhoods. We are confident of that and are looking forward to the collaboration.”