Born @ WdKA
Spatial Design


Mon 27 Sep
Function Spatial Designer
Year 2021
Major Spatial Design
Practice Commercial Practices

Nominee Threshold Award Commercial Practices

Meet Youp van Terheijden! Youp was nominated for the 2021 Threshold Award Commercial Practices with his graduation project ‘RotterDAM’. In this interview, Youp tells us about his work and future plans.

Can you tell us a bit about your graduation project and how it came about? 

It all started when I moved to Rotterdam. Living in the city, I noticed how quickly the city was developing, with new buildings being built and old ones being demolished. At this time I was also reading articles about how and why cities develop and what the social effects are of these developments. Those social effects, such as gentrification, became my focus point. I believe a city should be for everyone, regardless of one's educational background or social status. So I started thinking of different ways to solve these social problems to make sure Rotterdam can remain a city in which everyone feels at home. 

The solution I designed is a scenario in which I sketch a future image for Rotterdam. Creating this scenario gave me the freedom to design an independent plan for Rotterdam, in which I could let go of current limitations. In the scenario, the dikes will break and a large part of the Netherlands will be flooded. Rotterdam fights against the water, doing justice to its well known motto "stronger through battle", and decides to build a big dam around the city. That is also where the title of my project, RotterDAM, comes from. In this scenario, Rotterdam becomes mostly self-sufficient, creating new opportunities inside the city.

When Rotterdam becomes mostly self-sufficient, new relationships within the city develop. People become dependent on each other, everyone is more involved and becomes part of the new society. To facilitate these developments within the city as it currently is, I came up with a large grid structure. The grid has five layers, four of which will have a spatial program. These layers have mixed purposes, such as housing, food production, circular industry and energy production. The fifth layer is a connecting layer. 

This design will connect the city and create new jobs and relationships across all levels of society.  However, my project should not be interpreted as a redesign of the city. I rather see it as a statement—a conversation-starter—that brings up topics that could be implemented in a real plan.

Which themes or societal concerns are you addressing in your work, and how?

The negative social effects on society of the current urban development are the main problems that I am addressing in this project. With my plan, I really want to show how the city can reconnect with its people, and keep the city livable for everyone. And besides that, the sustainability of the city and the ecological problems we are experiencing right now also play an important role in my scenario. 

What will you be working on in the near future? What are your next steps?

I want to continue with the project and create a publication in which people can read more about my vision and thoughts on the city. This publication will contain visualisations that I created for my graduation project, and I am also planning to create new and more detailed visualisations.

I am driven to create a better future and a nicer world regarding the social and environmental aspects I mentioned. To do so, I will continue studying to get deeper into the theory behind the topics I am interested in. I am planning on pursuing a Master in Architecture at TU Delft and I am starting my switch semester in February. 


To read more about Youp’s work, pay a visit to his Graduation Catalogue Page. Furthermore, his journey can be followed on his Website. The winners of the Threshold Award Commercial Practices will be announced during a festive ceremony as part of the Graduation Show. Keep an eye on our Graduation Show page for more information.