Who is We?

Join us for the online opening of the pavilion and the website at May 20 at noon on

12.00 - Official opening of the pavilion by Ingrid van Engelshoven, outgoing Minister of Education, Culture and Science; Guus Beumer, outgoing artistic director Het Nieuwe Instituut and Francien van Westrenen, head of Agency

12.20 - Presentation of the research programmes developed together with the Cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam; Values for Survival by Caroline Nevejan (Chief Science Officer for the City of Amsterdam), and The Polder of Babel: A Super-Diverse City in the Anthropocene by Mike Emmerik and Simone Rots (Independent School for the City)

13.00 - Space of Other talk with Afaina de Jong

14.00 - Radical Observation Exercise with Debra Solomon and the Amsterdam Zuidoost Food Forest Community of Praxis

15.00 - Presentation of the design teams selected to develop research
proposals as part of the parallel public research programme in
cooperation with Creative Industries Fund NL – Failed Architecture,
Bureau LADA, and Studio Wild

16:00 - Presentation of The Polder of Babel by the Independent School for the City by Mike Emmerik

17:00 - Presentation of Values for Survival Cahier 3: Tuning to Rhythm, with
live concert with Sirishkumar Manji (tabla, vocal), Mistah Isaac (gitar,
vocal), Reinier van Houdt (piano). An online improvisation between
different rhythm traditions, overcoming delay, sharing the first beat,
offering an entrance to each other and rhythm as a uniting force in
diversity is explored. With thanks to Source Elements for the networked
music support.

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Guus Beumer, artistic director Het Nieuwe Instituut
Francien van Westrenen, head of Agency Het Nieuwe Instituut
Silvie van Oost
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About the exhibition

Het Nieuwe Instituut responds to the theme ‘How will we live together?’ with the counter-question ‘Who is we?’. The word 'we' seems to imply inclusion, but it often represents a very singular perspective. As social and ecological urgencies demand immediate care and action, it is fundamental to regard ‘we’ as an even more pluralised pronoun that encompasses all humans and non-humans such as soil, plants, animals, and microbes. Who is We? addresses the urgency for architects and urbanists to commit to this plurality.

Who is We? presents an urbanism that is female, indigenous, of colour, queer, and multispecies. It advocates for design values transforming the current – mostly exploitative dynamic – into equal and non-extractive forms of coexistence. The knowledge, values, and tools necessary for this transformation have been developed throughout history but are largely ignored by the architecture canon.

Contributors architect Afaina de Jong and artist Debra Solomon deconstruct normative concepts of space such as ‘terra nullius’ and ‘tabula rasa’, visualising what remains unseen behind the dominant structures that define spaces.

In Multiplicity of Other, De Jong reconstitutes the dominance of a single-sided universal minority perspective on cities, identifying the spatial knowledge of the overwhelming majority of othered groups as fundamental. She presents Space of Other, a performative space using public dialogues to engage with other values, languages, and spatial practices like dance, music, and poetry. Solomon advocates Multispecies Urbanism for just urban development driven by reciprocal inter-species relations of care and climate crisis mitigation. In the pavilion she shares research tools such as Radical Observation, soil chromatograms, and rhizotrons to produce environmentally democratic urban landscapes in the form of public space food forests.

Who is We? is an empathic plea against homogeneity as polyphony and plurality create the relations and interactions essential to build resilient societies and cities.

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Curators and Participants

Francien van Westrenen studied Arts and Culture at the
Erasmus University Rotterdam, graduating with her Master’s thesis on the future of the art museum. Since then she has worked at various cultural institutions, including Stroom Den Haag as architecture curator, where she curated, among others, [Another Reality. After Lina Bo Bardi](, _[Proposals for a Qualitative Society ]( Céline Condorelli, and _[Revolutionary Traces ]( Ângela Ferreira. With Maaike Lauwaert, she edited \Facing
Value. Radical perspectives from the arts
_(Valiz, 2017). Since March 2018 Francien van Westrenen is the Head of Agency at Het Nieuwe Instituut. She addresses the innovative force and international role of the various design sectors, mediating between designers, makers and architects living in The Netherlands, and both national and international platforms, manifestations and policymaking.

Afaina de Jong is an architect and contemporary thinker with an international and intersectional discourse that explores the boundaries of architecture, art, and culture. Integrating theory and research with design, she believes that architecture is not only to be perceived, but also experienced and interacted with. Her Amsterdam-based architectural studio Afarai specialises in spatial design and strategy, with a deep connection to represent people and cultural movements that are not traditionally represented in architecture. Using form, language, colour, pattern, and narratives that are 'other', the studio works towards a more holistic and inclusive urban space.

Debra Solomon is an artist, researcher and educator. In 2017 she introduced the term ‘multispecies urbanism’ to describe urban development driven by the priorities of urban ecosystems and natural world stewardship as giving primacy to the care for the natural world. Multispecies Urbanism promotes policy innovations that engage citizens as part of a resilient urban habitat founded on environmental justice for all species. In 2010 she founded Urbaniahoeve to produce public space urban food forests with locals and to develop urban food forest design and stewardship training in the Netherlands and Italy.

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Pavilion partners & sponsors

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