Designing Cities For All: RE-generation started off 2023 with a new Fellow: Singapore-based urbanist, strategist, curator, writer, and educator Sarah Ichioka. Together, we created five thought-provoking programmes about Regenerative Design at Pakhuis de Zwijger. DCFA dipped into the thematics of Flourish, Sarah and co-author Michael Pawlyn’s book, which puts forward an alternative perspective on designing social systems that restore planetary health.

The Fellowship explored Regenerative Design by connecting the broader goal of regenerative system creation with a local context, inviting changemakers from many places and disciplines. Together with academics, artists, entrepreneurs, activists, architects, designers and other wisdom keepers, we explored different knowledge systems, collective action approaches and the overall role of design in shaping the future.

To start off, Sarah set the tone in The Bigger Picture by pointing out the faulty narrative of existing systems. Instead of continuing to sacrifice people, places and the planet, there is urgency to repair and heal to come home to Earth. With Jayati Ghosh, Robert Gilman, Yukiko Nezu, Thieu Besselink & Lisa Best.

As one method of moving away from an anthropocentric worldview and towards a more ecocentric perspective, We Are All Stewards explored the concept of stewardship. This position elevates the natural world as something worth protecting and allows for humans to accept their responsibility in the restoration of the planet. Indigenous knowledge has always incorporated this nature-centred way of thinking. With Lyla June, Willem Koning, Juliana Perrone Celotti, Hakim El Amrani, and Teresa van Twuijver

To further challenge the Western perception, Design For Time attempted to rethink the linear standardisation of time. The programme explored an alternative clock that syncs up the hours of daylight with bodily rhythms. Healing needs time, and questioning our perception of it is the first step. With Jeroen Timmer, Jessica Wawoe, Ella Saltmarshe, and Tatsuyoshi Saijo.

In Regenerate & Activate, we discussed more in-depth how to activate one’s own potential to participate in the transition to regenerative systems. Sarah showed how individuals use their design background to support climate action. Merging private with professional skills and interests and finding strength in your own intersections can lead to powerful actions. With Angelina Kumar, Victoria McKenzie, Marc O’Brien, Tara Gbolade, and Maaike Boumans.

Finally, A Plan for the Planet featured Sarah in person at Pakhuis de Zwijger in Amsterdam! The epsiode focused on letting go of competition thinking and instead learning to live in symbiosis with nature and each other — which actually means: to listen to the planet and realise it already has a plan. It just needs to be given a voice. With Quint Verschuren, Marian Stuiver, Selçuk Balamir & Juneal Holder.

As the speakers have shown, there are many initiatives around the world – including in the Netherlands – that are making change happen. Biophilic architects like Hakim El Amrani that borrow from organic forms to reconnect humans with nature, researchers investigating soil history pre-design, using ‘waste’ from canals in soil-restoring tiles, or discovering your own indigeneity through fashion design like Teresa van Twuijver: we all have a role to play in regenerating our surroundings.

Design, in our broad approach of it at DCFA, plays a crucial role in exploring alternative mindsets and shaping our systems in a way that allows for the planet and all living beings to heal. The DCFA Fellowship with Sarah Ichioka has helped debunk degenerative perspectives and invite a regenerative way of thinking about design.

Up next, Designing Cities for All: RE-generation will dip into the practice of commoning in the transition to a more just, social and sustainable future, together with our next DCFA Fellow: spatial planner and researcher Roberto Rocco. Hope to meet you on May 1st for the first episode of In Common!

Involved DCFA Advocates:
Sarah Ichioka
Urbanist, Co-author 'Flourish', & Founding Director 'Desire Lines'
Jayati Ghosh
Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts & Co-author 'Earth for All'
Robert Gilman
Astrophysicist & President Context Institute
Thieu Besselink
Lecturer Regenerative Cities Programme at Utrecht University & Co-founding Director Townmaking Institute
Lisa Best
PhD Candidate Wageningen University & Research
Yukiko Nezu
Architect & Founder of Urbanberry Design
Nick Demeris
Singer & Facilitator of community building through music
Lyla June
Indigenous musician, scholar, and community organizer of Diné (Navajo), Tsétsêhéstâhese (Cheyenne) and European lineages
Willem Koning
Schrijver, kunstenaar en mede-oprichter Stichting K’makah
Juliana Perrone Celotti
Architect & researcher 'United Indigenous Nation' project
Hakim El Amrani
Biophilic spatial designer, Studio NousNous
Teresa van Twuijver
Designer, artist, journalist, researcher, storyteller & founder 'Indigenous Dutch'
Tatsuyoshi Saijo
Head, Research Institute for Future Design at Kochi University of Technology
Ella Saltmarshe
Co-founder of The Long Time Project
Jeroen Timmer
Jessica Wawoe
Founder of the Tribal Wisdom Foundation
Tara Gbolade
Director at Gbolade Design Studio
Marc O’Brien
Climate Designer, Strategist & Design Educator
Angelina Kumar
Collaborative Artist, Founder & Social Entrepreneur
Victoria McKenzie
Academic-activist & Founder Radical Research & Re-storying Agency (RRA)
Maaike Boumans
Host, Trainer & Poet
Quint Verschuren
Marian Stuiver
Head of Programme Green Cities at Wageningen University and Research & Author of 'The Symbiotic City'
Selçuk Balamir
Just transition researcher & Eco-social design educator
Juneal Holder
Artist and Energy Transmuter
Compiled by
Leonie Lemor
Stagiair Designing Cities For All