Summer School Rotterdam Babylon / Cancelled

Our apologies, this event is cancelled due to an insufficient amount of registrations.

Summer School Rotterdam Babylon;

On Visual Complexity in Social, Autonomous and Commercial Practices

Learn how to reach out in complex social environments, and make the communication bubble pop!

Rotterdam is a true Babylon. A constant changing city with 170+ nationalities with its harbour, university and polytechnics. It functions as a magnet for young people worldwide. Rotterdam is a city lab where you can experience how people live together, and reinvent the city over and over again! A hotspot of social complexities, specific for present-day identity exposures under the influence of globalisation and migration. The perfect environment to research the complexity of the cultural and economic fabric of a city. To identify and bridge borders and fractures in physical and non-physical public space.

Are you commercially-driven, an autonomous maker or social change agent? Want to engage with designers and artists and the city of Rotterdam to explore, expand and strengthen your professional stance? Then Rotterdam Babylon — an intense eight-day immersive summer course — is for you!

Guided by: Edith Gruson, Gerard Hadders and the experts from the Commercial, Social and Autonomous Practices.

Contributors: Meghan Ferrill (Writer, Educator), Huda Smitshuijzen-AbiFarès (Khatt Foundation), Dean Bowen (Slam Poet and Writer), Michel de Boer (De Boer Wang Studio, Shanghai), Els Kuijpers (Design Critic, Writer), Elly Uyttenbroek (Exactitudes), Gert Dumbar, Evert van Ginkel (Archaeologist), Jan van Toorn (Designer, Educator, Professor Emeritus), Crimson (Architectural Historian), Kees Went (Sound designer), Elfie Tromp (Writer, Performer).

Course Content

The ‘filter bubble’ is the new default term for social failure, the failure to connect with ‘the other’. However, as negative as it might sound, it does ring a bell. Long before the coming of age of social media, people had a tendency to fence themselves in a group, whether it be age, religion or dress codes and street culture. So how do we infiltrate and crossover the peer-to-peer codes?

What is new is social media, the platforms of which are controlled by algorithms driven by user preferences and behaviour recognition. The once ‘traditional’ peer-to-peer codes as in mass communication that could be segregated into ‘target groups’ are significantly more complex. Everyone produces content, thus creating a virtual information bubble that may parallel one’s ‘desired life’, but not necessarily one’s ‘real life’.

By studying the behaviour of the individual in urban and social space we come closer to understand the need for different models to approach society in order to reduce social exclusion. Awareness building on the necessity of autonomous thinking of the designer vis-à-vis building different models of economic exchange like doughnut economy, circular economy, blue economy, peer to peer economy, sharing economy etc. and reflect on the perception of people as commodities, whether by corporations or other individuals.

This summer school course sets outreach the individual behind the ‘façade’. By developing tailor-made communication concepts for individuals. By analysing public space, fictionalize this analysis towards a communication concept by design workshops, and to rapid prototype interventions in public space.

Course Design:

  • The course will focus on the city triangle most associated with cultural diversity and commercial enterprise (institutions, shops, visitors, inhabitants, workers)
  • Through a playful 'forensic study' the different fields are highlighted - the summer school runs you along the various aspects of art and design. Systematic observation by photography and a group-breakdown of the results will result in a richly composed mix of workshops, exercises, flash lectures, peer review and meet & greet. We deconstruct the city, the citizen and ‘the invisible aspects’ that influence our behaviour.
  • Practical and contemporary urgent issues of the municipality of Rotterdam form the backdrop for this exercises. The municipality is a committed partner that will participate during the course.
  • The result will consist of a research dossier and a sum of creative observations that can bring a lasting insight into contemporary city economy and its influence on citizens.

For Whom:

  • Students at University or University of Applied Sciences level in the field of Art, Design and Culture
  • Orientation and preparation-course for the transition from Bachelors to Masters
  • Active in related cultural areas, cultural and communication studies

Learning Outcomes:

  • What are the skills you need in the 21st century and how do you identify your own professional engagement? What type of artist or designer are you actually?
  • What are your ambitions and qualities and how do you find out? By following the Summer school of WdKA and you will get to know the inclusive process, the whole story. Within the working field of designers, artists and everything in between, this Summer school reconstructs the 'act' and 'interaction' of the processes within the various visual disciplines.
  • Are you a sculptor, conceptual thinker, a creator, an organizational talent, do you thinking in new business models, are you a linguist, a craftsman, a researcher, a strategist, an individualist or team worker, pro or reactive, do you want to be in lead yourself? Who are your clients, or are you your own client?
  • If you do not choose, someone else will choose for you!

Learn to:

  • Identify three different approaches to societal issues, autonomy, social engagement and future scenario’s
  • Work and act within a multiform and diverse society
  • Improve your visual and textual qualities
  • Rapid prototype interventions
  • Have self-confidence in your own view and ambition
  • Building a professional network
  • Re-design and enjoy your professional career

Introductions on Rotterdam by:

  • Ruud Breteler, Chief Officer Art and Culture, City of Rotterdam
  • Urban planners, historians, visionaries and enforcement officers of the local police will give the flash lectures (work in progress):

on Exactitudes or Dress codes in Public Space

on The Ethnical Visual Coding in Streetwear of Young People

on Design as Politics

on Speaking The City with slam poets

on Sculpting The City with artists

on The City as a Movie with filmmakers

on Police Visibility and identity with designers

on Sex and the City with writers and performances

on doing Business with Start-ups and chamber of commerce

on Architecture and urban planning with visionaries and urban planners

A team of outside Crits and Troublemakers will join us along the course.


  • Language:  English
  • Entry level: Bachelor’s degree or comparable level
  • Organised by:  Willem de Kooning Academy Rotterdam, University of Applied Sciences
  • Guided by:  Edith Gruson, Gerard Hadders and experts from the Commercial, Social and Autonomous Practices
  • Course date: July 18th up until – July 25th, 2018
  • Course credits: 2 ECTS, with a certificate
  • Tuition fee: Euro € 1750,00. Including the summer school course, course materials and accommodation in ‘the student hotel’. Not including, other living expenses, local travel costs etc.
  • Deadline:  Application deadline is May 31, 2018