#Keepingitreal: architecture, agency & urban appropriation  

    Date: 10 June 2017

    Location: Tent Rotterdam

    Event Type: Conference

    #Keepingitreal is a one-day conference that explores the complex relationship between street culture and architecture. An unusual encounter between worlds that interact and impact each other every single day in the neighborhoods, shops and schools that define the raw peripheries of cities. The collision of these two worlds has been the backdrop for music videos, poetry, art, activism, and battles highlighting unknown biographies, histories and narratives of a multicultural and multi-vocal society. To whom does the built environment belong and what does it mean to appropriate public space and to include biographies and realities of social communities that were not envisioned in the original masterplan? How do people hack and reimagine their habitat? Street culture is not only a dream or a vision; it is the soft  architecture of cities across the globe. Specifically, European urban street culture has facilitated forms of belonging and translocal networks that in turn allow(ed) people to claim a space within a city, economy or nation. These repeatedly reconfigured global cities such as London, Berlin, Rotterdam, Rome or Detroit function as intersections of global economic and cultural activity and centers of transitional mobility, symbols of a world “without borders . But are they?

    #Keepingitreal provides a stage to reflect on the architecture and fashioning of urban street culture, which is often coded and encrypted with slang and concepts such as hustling, authenticity and credibility. What happens when these codes are used to inspire a culture of architecture that is based on the idea of the street  as an expression of people’s realities? #Keepingitreal invites DJs, academics, architects, rappers, urbanists, designers and hustlers to propose, question and envision contemporary models of sociability and survival strategies through the codes of conduct which are present in contemporary urban cultures.

    #Keepingitreal is curated in collaboration with curator Michiel van Iersel (Non-Fiction) and hosted by Concrete Blossom and AIR Rotterdam. This symposium is part of the public program that is curated alongside the exhibition project BLUEPRINT: Whose urban appropriation is this?  at TENT Rotterdam, which is curated and organized by Metro54 and focuses on the role of urban appropriation and how contemporary urban arts and culture is intervening in the canon and structure of architecture and urbanism.


    Adeola Enigbokan is an artist and urbanist based in Amsterdam. Her research practice is informed by theory and methods from environmental psychology, anthropology and historical studies. She conducts research on urban experience with architects, designers, educators and other social researchers in neighborhoods of New York, Tel Aviv, Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Beijing, Mexico City and Amsterdam. Enigbokan currently teaches Urban Sociology at the undergraduate and graduate level at the University of Amsterdam. Her writing appears in the Journal of Urbanism, Cultural Geographies, The New Inquiry and Art and the Public Sphere.

    Malique Mohamud is a cultural programmer, journalist and organizer based in Rotterdam. The son of a Somali educator/poet and an army chief, Malique found his way into the Dutch art-scene and media landscape through his stand-up comedy, poetry and tv productions. His projects focus on politics, migration and human interaction. Malique has refined his ability of storytelling by studying traditional Somali rhythmic poetry and golden era Hip-hop. In 2016, he founded the platform Concrete Blossom, which advocates for more inclusive media-and cultural landscape in the Netherlands.

    Afaina de Jong is an architect specialized in spatial design, design strategy and visual concepts. She crossed the boundaries of traditional architecture practice by approaching the existing city from a multidisciplinary perspective, integrating research and design with a strong focus on visual storytelling and participation, while firmly based in current and future lifestyles. With her creative studio AFARAI she published the book For the People, By the People: A Visual Story of the DIY City (2012), and opened Ultra de la Rue Creative Space in Amsterdam s Red Light District (2012-2017). She is currently working on her PhD dissertation on the participatory use of public space. For the project BLUEPRINT: Whose urban appropriation is this? , Afaina has created the exhibition design, the work Cruisekade a.k.a. Black to the Future and collaborated with designer Innavisions on the installation The City of the Sun.

    Kalaf Epalanga is a writer, poet and musician based between Lisbon and Berlin. He is the co-founder of the kuduro collective Buraka Som Sistema and the record label A Enchufada, an artistic and dynamic platform that promotes new sounds from across the world. He writes a regular column of short literary chronicles for the prestigious Portugese newspaper, O Público. Caminho published his first collection of chronicles in 2011 and three years later he publish a collection of short stories O Angolano que comprou Lisboa (por metade do preço) ( The Angolan who Bought Lisbon (at Half the Price) ). His topics range from everyday reflections on things like life as a musician, dance styles, a reunion with a long-lost class mate or the invention of the minibar, to more deeply personal issues such as identity, origin and racism, with Angola and Lisbon as recurring themes.

    Marga Weimans is a fashion designer based in Rotterdam. In her work, Weimans investigates diverse themes that are often related to identity, technology, architecture and beauty. She translates these in an ingenious way into extraordinary outfits that are a combination of pure handcraft and high-tech. Cities and architecture play an important role in the practice of the designer, which is reflected in her collections, both in material, color and shape. Weimans has exhibited her work at various institutions such as Palais de Tokyo, Groninger Museum and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen.

    Charlie Koolhaas is a Dutch sociologist, artist and writer who grew up in London. She studied in London in New York. Currently she operates a studio out of Rotterdam, where she lives. In 2004, she moved to Guangzhou, China where she founded and edited the international journal UNIT magazine and co-curated the Shenzhen Biennale of Urbanism and Architecture. Her photography has been featured in a variety of exhibitions including The Venice Biennale, Het Nieuwe Instituut and Dubai Next at Vitra Design Museum. In September, she will start teaching in the Radical Cut-up MFA at the Sandberg Institute, Amsterdam. Inspired by her new publication ‘What happened in Rotterdam’, Charlie created two installations for the exhibition BLUEPRINT: Whose urban appropriation is this?

    Marina Otero Verzier is a Rotterdam-based architect. She is the Head of Research & Development at Het Nieuwe Instituut. Previously, she was Chief Curator of the 2016 Oslo Architecture Triennale together with the After Belonging Agency, and director of Global Network Programming at Studio-X (New York). Otero is a co-editor of Promiscuous Encounters, Unmanned: Architecture and Security Series, and After Belonging: The Objects, Spaces, and Territories of the Ways We Stay In Transit. She also co-curated exhibitions at the 2013 Shenzhen Bi-city Biennale and the 2014 Istanbul Design Biennial. The exhibition Architecture of Appropriation, currently at Het Nieuwe Instituut, is the first step in a research project around squatting and architecture, focusing on subjects including vacancy, property and diverse forms of living.

    Nanne de Ru is co-founder of the Powerhouse Company, an office for architecture, research and urbanism based in Rotterdam and Copenhagen. He is also founding partner of the RED (Real Estate Development) Company. He studied at Berlage Institute in Rotterdam, of which he was the director from 2012 until 2016. He worked as a researcher at AMO from 2002 to 2004. Nanne de Ru has published in a.o. Hunch, Werk Bauen und Wohnen and Content, and has been teaching at a number of schools throughout Europe including the University of Arhus, the Royal art Academy in Copenhagen, TU Delft and the Academy of Architecture in Rotterdam.

    DREEA is an independent writer, organizer and DJ based in Berlin. DREEA plays music, writes and organizes events on the intersection of countercultures, global sounds and fashion. She hosts various club nights and a weekly radio show on Berlin Community Radio in Berlin.

    Tamar Shafrir practices and writes about design and architecture. She was born in Tel Aviv, Israel. Since then, she has lived in New York, St. Louis, Miami, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Princeton, Zurich, London, Copenhagen, Eindhoven, Milan, Genoa and now Rotterdam. Graduated from the Design Academy. She co-founded Space Caviar, a Genoa-based design research studio operating at the intersection of architecture, technology, politics and the public realm, together with Joseph Grima. She is a design researcher at Het Nieuwe Instituut.

    Charlie Clemoes is an English writer and podcaster interested in art, architecture and music. He is an editor at Failed Architecture and the founder of European Echo, a blog that aims to speak about art and society from a local and European perspective. For European Echo he produces the associated Radio Echo podcast, which is currently focused on an ongoing collaboration with the design collective fanfare, hosting conversations with the participants in their 2017 program. With Failed Architecture he contributed to BLUEPRINT: Whose urban appropriation is this?  with a video collage juxtaposing hip hop and grime videos and smooth computer generated renderings of villas and towers.