Meet the Urban Lab team

Tacloban City 30 January 2016 – From now until the end of the year, UN-Habitat will be supporting Tacloban to become an inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable city. The overall objective of the one-year Urban Lab project in Tacloban City is to provide high level technical expertise in the design phase of a new urban development district in the northern part of the city. The activities will support the local government in creating inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable new neighbourhoods for Tacloban residents. Now at its early stage, the Urban Lab will do this by providing technical assistance in the development of the city’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP).

The Urban Lab team is made up of four international experts.

Christopher De Vries

ChristopherDeVriesChristopher de Vries is principal at Rademacher de Vries Architects (RDVA). Over the last ten years Christopher has been involved in various post-disaster redevelopment projects.

In 2007 Christopher started a research group at the Delft University of Technology that studied the long term effects of post-disaster shelter and urban planning. This work included projects in Venezuela, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Ghana, El Salvador and the Philippines, Sichuan and Haiti. In 2010 Christopher was part of a research group at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) into informal housing in the global South, of which the results were presented at the United Nations World Urban Forum. Following this work Christopher joined a research group at the Harvard GSD following the 2011 Tsunami in Japan.

The work involved assisting the local and provincial planning department in Miyagi in making schemes for a more resilient city that took tsunamis as an inevitable part of the local geographic conditions instead of assuming safety behind concrete walls. In 2012 Christopher became the project leader of the ZUS-MIT team for the rebuild by design competition in New York following Hurricane Sandy. The proposal was one of the winning projects and is currently being realized.

For the Mission in Tacloban City, Christopher hopes to bring these experiences into Urban Lab format and assist Tacloban Planning department in realising a more safe and resilient city for the future.

Marieke Kums

MariekeKumsMarieke Kums studied as a Fulbright scholar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston and at Delft University of Technology from which she received a Master of Science in Architecture degree cum laude.

In 2010 MAKS became a founding member of UNION3: an international research and design group focused on the problematic of renewal in European cities. UNION3 has done research and published widely on the topic of (urban) renewal in the Netherlands and abroad.

Since 2013 she is a member of the advisory board for the Creative Industries Fund NI. In 2014 Marieke joined the lectureship “Future Urban Regions” (FUR) which was initiated by the Dutch Ministry of Planning. FUR examines urban (eco) systems and innovative design resources for the existing city. From a changing notion of use of space it is working on the improvement of urban environmental, economic situation and/or socio-cultural participation.

Neville Mars

NevilleMarsNeville Mars is the principal of MARS Architects in Shanghai, a sustainable planning and architecture studio with over ten years of experience in Asia. MARS Architects have won national and international architecture competitions, including the winning bid for an office tower in Chongqing, the winning gaps between research and design, art and technology.

Mars is a lecturer and tutor at the China Academy of Art and PhD candidate at RMIT in the field of urban theory. He is a member of the BMW Guggenheim Lab, and fellow presenter at the TED global_INK conference. Mars is the author of the book “The Chinese Dream – a society under construction”. This 800 page tome proved to be a prophetic analysis of the correlation between city building and society building in China inspiring the theme of China’s twelfth Five Year Plan. Mars will publish his second book “Manifesto of Mistakes – urban solutions for the new world” in 2016. This comprehensive ecocity design manual fundamentally rethinks the principles of the planning discipline to arrive at a step-by-step strategy for integrating all scales of sustainable planning projects.

Harmen van de Wal

HermanVanDerWalHarmen van de Wal graduated with honourable mention in 1992 at de Technical University of Delft, Faculty of architecture. Between 1996 and 2000 he worked for Maxwan, and B+B landscape architects and planners. In April 2000 he founded Krill-Office for Resilient Cities and Architecture. Krill is engaged in three fields of work: architecture, research and urban design. The architectural work ranges from transformation to new build projects, from housing to offices and public facilities. Urban planning projects range from urban renewal to research on large urban landscapes, both in The Netherlands as in Asia. Krill has recently put together an international team to propose tools for desakota development in Indonesia, now being studied as a possible national Indonesian program, as well as for projects to alleviate slum areas with the use of social capital of the community.

The research is key to the development of Krill’s work. This is carried out in close collaboration with a number of universities, such as Technical University of Delft, on the impact of architectural spaces on social interaction, the Gajah Mada University in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, on development tools for the green growth of peri-urban areas, and IHE-UNESCO on water related issues in the city of Bandung.

With Krill, Harmen van de Wal has won many prizes, and has been featured in numerous exhibitions, and publications. Next to the parallel to the work at Krill, Harmen van de Wal lectures on a regular base at universities and academies. He was part of the advisory board for the Creative Industries Fund NL between 2010 and 2013, and is now part of an advisory board to the Dutch embassy in Jakarta.

Supported by

The Urban Lab team is supported by UN-Habitat urban planning specialists, Thomas Stellmach and Rogier van den Berg from headquarters in Nairobi and the Philippines country office with David Garcia, Reinero Flores and Christopher Rollo. The team is one of many other Urban Lab teams globally who are working with cities on urban development.

View related articles:

How should a city grow?

UN-Habitat’s Urban Lab project begins in Tacloban City

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