Learning from Venice - On-site Explorations

Learning from Venice -
On-site Explorations
“On-site Explorations as a playground, during which experience became a position for the design.”

Learning from Venice was at the same time also learning from Rotterdam. One big part of this learning process was being at the site for a whole weekend. The aim of the workshop on Noordereiland was to apply the tool of ‘On-site Explorations’ (developed by rotative studio), which meant getting in touch with the site, its infrastructure, the water, the residents and by use of (experimental, physical) interventions making the future prospective transformations visible and experienceable in the present context. 
During this process, topics and places of interest came forward for each student, that were the base for development throughout the course. These places became the exploration contexts during the weekend.

Ramon Landolt, a composer and musican from Zürich, was invited to kick off the weekend, with a lecture about his ongoing project ‘Iced Sound’, for which he composed “music by and for glaciers”. Suze Milius, a theater maker from Brussels, was invited to give a lecture on-site, in which she showed in what way a theatre script can be translated into a stage set. Often she only used a couple of materials that would reflect the script abstractly. She stayed the whole day to brainstorm about the different interventions, together with Alexandra and Caterina. 

By the end of the first day seven different interventions came to life.


Daan and Wessel developed a tool that relates to time, the human scale, and the rising water level. While using the object the consequences of a rising sea level becomes evident. Not only visible but also physically - as a result of having to set the object in place by oneself.

Milou was intrigued by the bridges that connect the boats along the quay to the land. She captured the movement of these bridges in a metal plate by using a nail connected to the walkway a well as on a paper connecting a brush to the walkway: tracing and recording the ever-changing choreography of water.

Ronja investigated the dialogue between the city and the island, by doing a 360 degree exploration. It shed a light on all angles the Noordereiland can be experienced in the city‘s context.

Justus explored the perception and changeability of the shore, creating an extra layer of the quay by redrawing and wrapping the infrastructure and boats that are present. The public domain that lies within the layers of the shoreline, but now is an unrecognized space came forward as a space of interest. The line became a space.

Esmee accentuated the water level on the facades by creating an extra line around the housing blocks, marking, and displaying the rising of the water. This line not only follows the outline of the block but at the same time goes through all the elements of a facade, focussing on the detail an the differences between the facades.

Arianne engaged with the relation of quay and water as a physical act: pulling the water on the quay. Creating a strip on the land as a gesture to emphasize and display the scale of a rising sea level, while physically experiencing the scale. The strip was created with black foil that due to its materiality moved in the wind and created ripples reflecting the light comparable to water.

Quirine explored the different vegetation and species that as a result of fluctuation of the water grow and flourish within the public space. She was fascinated by the algae found on the wooden poles from which the height of the water can be read. By taking these traces and marking the poles found in the public space she showed the consequences of a scenario in which flooding appears more frequently. 

Text by student Arianne Fleege


Semester studio
Research, communication and design

Proposed by rotative studio
Research methods: individual and collective research, on-site explorations, dialogues  
Conversation series
Final exhibition with individual and collective work


Academic Year
2021 - 2022 

rotative studio

Alexandra Sonnemans, Caterina Viguera

Conversation Series Guests
Meteorologist, weather forecaster Estel Figueras 
Musician, composer Ramon Landolt
Theater director Suze Milius 
Architect Alberto Pottenghi, Monoatelier 
Architect Pavle Stamenovic 
Architect Daniel Fuchs  

Arianne Fleege, Wessel Geysels, Justus Schäfer, Ronja Dmoch, Milou van Zomeren, Quirine Hoek, Daan de Jong, Esmee van Beekzuizen