Rhythm nations

​Every city in the world contains its own rhythms and each citizen within them often finds themselves marching to the same beat. These concepts were discussed at the City Rhythm Opening Conference at TU Delft on Wednesday September 7, 2016.

The conference opened with a lecture given by Dr. Marli Huijer from Erasmus University. She began by discussing the craziness one might encounter on any given day on the streets near Amsterdam Centraal and how it creates a sort of rhythm.

“If I’m in Amsterdam I can look at the rhythms of the pedestrians and the traffic lights and the buildings,” Dr. Huijer said. “There’s all kinds of rhythms. I can study them, compare them and draw general conclusions.”

On an average day, when everything is going well, Amsterdam can maintain eurhythmy, which is an ideal harmonious rhythm. But when something like a massive railway delay occurs, it can send a shockwave through the city, thus interrupting the rhythm of everything from automobile traffic to the flow of passengers through security at Schiphol Airport.

Other speakers at the conference addressed additional aspects of rhythm and how they fit into urban design. Tamas Erkelens, Programme Manager in Data Innovation for the City of Amsterdam, discussed how neighbourhood nuisance complaints and tourists taking photos can impact the rhythm of the nation’s capital. Marcel Koeleman, the Chairman of the Dutch Programme Board on Soil and Groundwater Protection, addressed how air pollution can affect daily life in Rotterdam.

Pinar Sefkatli, a Junior Researcher at TU Delft, also talked about her recent trip to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. There she observed how many of its poorest citizens living in slums have adapted to new housing projects and other developments in the quickly developing city.

“What was really inspiring for me when I visited Addis Ababa was to see how these informal settlements were shaped through the movements of people and their actions in their daily lives,” Sefkatli said. “It was very interesting to see a very live rhythm in this area.”

The conference was just the first part of a project called City Rhythm, which is a collaboration between TU Delft, Wageningen University and representatives from six cities located across the Netherlands. You can learn more about the project by clicking here.

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