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Learning from the Dutch: The BAC Welcomes Amsterdam University of the Arts

The weeklong visit included workshops, site visits, and discussions around resiliency and climate change

Amsterdam University of the Arts faculty and students with Boston Architectural College faculty and students

In design, collaboration is key - collaboration with other designers, with community members, with policy and design makers, and with other countries. Climate change and resiliency are garnering a lot of attention around the world. Some countries have been looking at climate change for decades and have taken as many proactive steps as possible to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change and prevent further damage. One such country is the Netherlands, and recently faculty and students from the Amsterdam University of the Arts (AUA) visited Boston and The Boston Architectural College (BAC) to examine climate change and resiliency in East Boston, and how methods employed by the Dutch might be effective here.

Pieter Jannink and Txell Blanco, professors at the Amsterdam Academy of Architecture, and Billy Nolan, a researcher and faculty member at the Netherlands Architecture Institute in Rotterdam, along with seven AUA students joined a group of BAC students and BAC faculty members, Arlen Stawasz, resiliency strategist, and Tyler Hinckley, project architect/senior associate, of Perkins+Will Boston, for a series of workshops, site visits, and discussions around the issue of resiliency in East Boston.

"The Dutch bring a refreshing perspective to water related climate change issues, and seem to always turn the negative connotation of flooding into a positive opportunity for people to thrive with water," says Arlen Stawasz. "We partnered with NOAH of East Boston to build upon their climate care and preparedness program - as well as to advance our own research for the parallel studio. The students facilitated a workshop with East Boston residents (both in English and Spanish), which led to a rich and fruitful dialogue focused on listening, documenting, and diagramming the risks, vulnerabilities, and needs of the community. Perkins+Will also hosted the BAC and Dutch Academy for another workshop with the City of Boston and NOAH, where students and faculty utilized to the Rockefeller Academies National Disaster Resilience Toolkit, to dive deeper into understanding acute shocks and chronic stressors of the Boston Metro Region."

The visit with AUA was generously funded by the Dutch Consulate. In November, Arlen and Tyler will visit AUA to meet with Pieter, Txell, and Billy to further develop Dutch partnerships, and to plan a long term strategy to strengthen the BAC/AUA connection. The visit will also include planning the curriculum for fall 2019; the BAC is still developing funding opportunities to amplify these future collaborations. Over winter break in early 2019, the BAC and AUA faculty and students will produce a book to serve as a summary of their weeklong studio in September that will serve as a resource to the BAC's East Boston partnerships.

"Our partnership with the Amsterdam University of the Arts has been an incredible mutually beneficial experience that draws upon research of coastal cities," says Karen Nelson, dean of the School of Architecture at the BAC. "This cultural exchange helps our students and our community understand new initiatives that are possible by looking beyond our shores to help shape the future of Boston. We have learned from the Dutch faculty and researchers about innovative strategies for bringing community together with government agencies."

"This cultural exchange focusing on the academic partnership between the BAC and AUA has produced thoughtful discussions and collaborations with community leaders on how to address climate change and resiliency in our respective cities," says Yoonjee Koh, director of Intermediate Architecture Studios at the BAC. "Our schools have a long history, with a partnership that began over 50 years ago and continues to thrive with an exchange of ideas that could shape the futures of Boston and Amsterdam."

Click here to view photos from the BAC's weeklong collaboration with AUA.

This programming, travel, and workshops are generously supported by the Dutch Culture USA from the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Perkins+Will, and The Boston Architectural College.

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