DIAGNOSE! Interview with

#3 – 51N4E

By: Kriti Garg, Julia Dorn & Evelina Faliagka

DIAGNOSE! Interview Series

Published on August 26, 2020

Dieter Leyssen & Harold Vermeiren // Partners, 51N4E, Brussels

Cities are under constant transformation, and yet, as certain infrastructures are still essential, planners are constantly confronted with an infrastructural landscape that becomes obsolete. While climate change and urban growth push for further urban transformation, European balanced budgets and ‘not in my backyard’ concerns do little to strengthen investment to cope with infrastructural challenges. How to handle current infrastructure? Demolish it, start anew or adapt? 

To answer these urgent questions, we turned to the experts for infrastructural adaptivity and transformation, Harold Vermeiren and Dieter Leyssen, partners at the urban design collective 51N4E. Throughout the interview, we explored 51N4E’s design strategy of adaptive infrastructure and its ability to create living environments of shared experiences and social interactions. Through an interactive screen, we investigated specific projects and talked about their methodologies, the importance of interdisciplinarity, inclusivity and design ‘openness’ that allow for a future image of the city to emerge. A city full of paradoxes and contradictions, but also a city of collaboration and discussion.

Length:  69:00 min 

[00:00:13] What is adaptive infrastructure?
[00:04:30] How does adaptive infrastructure contribute to current challenges? When does it not work?
[00:07:12] What role does social infrastructure play in the design strategy?

[00:12:03] Does the social aspect evoke new typologies?

[00:17:19] Is adaptive infrastructure only a correction mechanism or can it accompany a larger planning strategy from the beginning?

[00:21:57] In interdisciplinary approaches, how much do you have to engage yourself in different roles?
[00:30:07] How do you integrate gained insight regarding actor networks into your design? 

[00:35:46] How do different scales transform your understanding of a masterplan?

[00:41:04] Does the strategy of segmentation create one holistic image of the future?

[00:43:33] When a project of yours was finished did it prove to be adaptive beyond its completion?
[00:48:02] What infrastructures will need most adaptation in the future? 
[00:53:21] Could your design strategy be applicable to different types of infrastructures?
[00:57:44] Will digital platforms offer other insights and how can they become a tool?
[00:61:29] What do you think of data-driven analysis and how would this influence the designers' role?
[00:64:17] How will adaptivity affect user behavior? 


[EN]   Berlin Brandenburg 2040 was initiated by the Habitat Unit in cooperation with Projekte International and provides an open stage and platform for multiple contributions of departments and students of the Technical University Berlin and beyond. The project is funded by the Robert Bosch Foundation.

[DE]   Berlin Brandenburg 2040 wurde initiiert von der Habitat Unit in Kooperation mit Projekte International und bietet eine offene Plattform für Beiträge von Fachgebieten und Studierenden der Technischen Universität Berlin und darüberhinaus. Das Projekt wird von der Robert Bosch Stiftung gefördert.

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