Winka Dubbeldam: Why Cities Need To Be Developed From The Bottom Up

Winka Dubbeldam: Why Cities Need To Be Developed From The Bottom Up

Chair of Architecture at UPenn shares why it is important to see any city as a growing organism and to look at it dynamically rather than statically.

Winka Dubbeldam
  • 7 april 2013

‘My Ideal City’ is a project fueled by and directed by the city planner Gary Hack and architect Winka Dubbeldam, that aims to restructure downtown of Colombian city of Bogota from the roots up. Instead of handing over the entire process to outsiders, the concept aims to give an average citizen a say in how his or her urban environment is redesigned. spoke to Winka Dubbeldam, Chair of Architecture at UPenn and Principal at Archi-tectonics about her involvement and her vision for Bogota:

Why did you decide to embark on the ‘My Ideal City’ project?

I was asked by Prodigy’s Rodrigo Nino to lecture in Bogota on the Future of the City and a few projects I was doing at Archi-tectonics. After I spoke, he came up to me and said that he would like to discuss something he was doing. When we were back in New York, he came by my office and said that he wanted me to be the lead architect of the project that he was considering—a bottom-up redesign of downtown Bogota. The city’s general development was progressing well, he said, but downtown was lagging behind.

Once you agreed to join the project, what were your next steps?

We needed to assemble a team, so I stated thinking about who we needed to pull in. For example, we needed people who could work on large urban schemes, someone internationally knowledgeable about large-scale green areas, and PR representatives. As a lead architect office, we would do our own research and develop potential scenarios in a bottom-up way. We were not going to make an old fashioned city plan—we wanted more open-ended scenarios in which we could involve the people of Bogota in a greater capacity. We came up with 5 scenarios for downtown Bogota.

What unique challenges do you face as an architect when working on a project concerning this particular city?

It is important to see any city as a growing organism and to look at it dynamically rather than statically. You also need to think about developing a very long-term plan, but also allowing for spontaneous interventions and new interactivity. We left static design behind us a long time ago, and anyway, in architecture we always look at optimization models and dynamic ways of designing, like using 3D generative software. When you look at the whole city you are mostly observing dynamic systems that are interactive, rather than static buildings in a fixed urban scheme.

What is the ultimate goal behind your plan for an improved Bogota?

We plan to test our ideas with the inhabitants of Bogota, and see what they think. We can use those interactions to further develop our proposals. If you want to compare our method to playing chess, you could say that we set the first move in action in order to start the game. The group of architects and planners is an active participant, but the other player is the people of Bogota.

How can the average citizen have an impact in the final decisions concerning the redevelopment of the city?

Rodrigo Nino has invited W Radio hosts to ask the people questions on the subject between 6 and 8 in the morning, when they are stuck in rush hour traffic—there are a lot of traffic jams in Bogota! This will create a discussion in which they will tweet, send images and generally communicate their reaction. We will be able to obtain feedback and see trends from what they are saying, which we can then incorporate in our plans, to make them active players in the game.

Thanks Winka!

Over the next 6 months, we want to start a conversation around what you envision as ‘My Ideal City’. Stay tuned each week to and for new ideas around the future of the city.


Japanese Face Wash Creates A Perfect Rose Every Time

Arts & Culture
Mobile august 26, 2016

Get A Better Idea Of How You Are Wasting Your Time

The TouchTime app is trying to revolutionize personal task management by providing detailed insight on how to be more efficient

Culture august 26, 2016

London Telephone Box Repurposed As A Tiny Mobile Repair Shop

Tools and supplies to replace broken screens or damage are neatly stowed away in these micro-workrooms


Get PSFK's Latest Report: Future of Work

See All
Design august 26, 2016

Conceptual Sportswear Created Out Of Futuristic Condom Material

A Dutch fashion designer is experimenting with new methods and fabrics to make high performance clothing

Fashion august 26, 2016

Fashionable Tassel Will Ensure You Never Lose Your Valuables Again

The device is fashion meets connected tech, that will help you keep track of your belongings at all times


Alexa von Tobel

Education, Investing, Customer Service

Syndicated august 26, 2016

Would You Wear Wool Shoes To Save The Environment?

As demand for wool shoes grows, a number of US footwear brands are heading directly to the source: the sheep pastures of New Zealand

Sustainability august 26, 2016

Self-Healing Material Is Fashioned Out Of Squid Teeth

Penn State researchers have devised a new textile that uses organic proteins

Arts & Culture august 26, 2016

Search Engine Turns Your Own Drawings Into Photos

This image-matching software accepts hand-made sketches instead of keywords


Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders

PSFK Op-Ed august 24, 2016

Why Building Better Offices Is The Key To Employee Engagement

Interaction Designer and Audio-visual Technologist at ESI Design illustrates the value in creating environments filled with surprise and delight

PSFK Labs august 25, 2016

PSFK’s Workplace Vision: How The Nurturing Of Seeds Will Come To Define The Onboarding Process

Our Future of Work vision is a service that allows companies to assemble and deliver welcome packets that are uniquely focused on the concept of growth

Arts & Culture august 26, 2016

Illustrator Interprets The Experiences Of Blind Travelers

Artist Alby Letoy creates drawings of poignant travel memories for the visually impaired

Advertising august 26, 2016

Clickbait Titles Used For The Good Of Charity

An agency devised an unlikely campaign that uses clickbait as a positive force to drive awareness to nonprofit initiatives

Advertising august 26, 2016

The Best In Eye-Catching Olympics Campaigns

PSFK rounds out the Rio Games with our picks for the best advertising moments off the field

Work august 26, 2016

Editorial Roundtable: The Arrival Of The People-First Workplace

Managed By Q, Soma, Workbar, Primary and thinkPARALLAX enumerate the reasons why companies need an employee-embracing workforce in order to exist

Arts & Culture august 26, 2016

Transforming Light Waves Into A New Art Form

An artist uses glass treated with layers of metallic coatings to create a unique installation called lightpaintings


Rio Olympics
Innovation Coverage From The Rio Games

Design august 26, 2016

This Windbreaker Lets You Explore The Outdoors While Charging Your Phone

The apparel includes solar panels that allow the wearer to stay connected through the power of renewable energy

Asia august 26, 2016

The Goal Of This Game Is To Not Get Laid Off From Your Job

A hit mobile app has you working really, really hard to not get fired as you climb the corporate ladder

Advertising august 26, 2016

Movie Critic Bot Guides Viewers Through Festival Offerings

The Toronto International Film Festival has created a Facebook Messenger chatbot to help attendants curate their schedule

No search results found.