Mixed Classroom: the Neighborhood of the Future

The Netherlands has a strong tradition of planning for the long term. However, at the moment academics, professionals, and policymakers alike are struggling to imagine how we will live in the future. We are well aware of what we don’t want: fossil fuels, social segregation, unemployment, and so on. But what is it that we do want in the future? Wat will houses look like? Where do people buy their groceries? How do you go from A to B? Do you still talk to your neighbours? A topic more relevant than ever, as the Netherlands is in need of one million new homes before 2040. Over the course of two months, participating students and policymakers will explore the neighbourhood of the future. The course combines experimentation with design, art and science to accelerate the much-needed transition. Each group is coupled with a neighbourhood in Utrecht, Rotterdam or the Hague, and designs an object meant as a conversation starters. During the last week, the classroom will travel to each individual neighbourhood to present and test their work.

Innovative form of education

Starting November 2017 the Urban Futures Studio offers a ‘mixed classroom course’, an exciting new form of academic education for ambitious master students. In this course we study techniques available for imagining and designing cities in view of the planetary crisis of the 21th century. Students will do so together with policymakers, scientists and business representatives. The mixed classroom is both an elective Master course (5 ECTS/7.5 ECTS) for students and an interactive lecture series for policymakers.

To get a sense of what to expect in this unique educational format, have a look at the "Uninvited Futuring" exhibition made by students of the first Mixed Classroom, and read this interview (Dutch) with the course's instructors Dr. Jesse Hoffman (course coordinator) and Dr. Peter Pelzer.


Aim of the course

The aim of this course is to give participants a better understanding of the available techniques to deal with inherently uncertain futures by imagining what cities of the future may look like, and how they will be experienced by their future inhabitants.


Techniques of futuring

During the course students develop a conceptual and practical understanding of the available techniques for imagining the future. Such as: design thinking, scenario’s, creative writing, and the staging of public participation. 


Mixed classroom format       

The course offers a mix of (guest) lectures, interviews, case exercises and discussions. Using the mixed classroom format, students learn to apply the acquired theoretical knowledge in case studies on future cities. Participation in this course offers you the possibility to gain hands-on experience in connecting ideas to action in collaboration with policymakers, on topics that are both scientifically innovative and societally urgent. In addition, you get taught innovative forms for doing research and presenting research.