Designing for Energy Transitions - landscape as a backdrop, a landing field or an actor

Last changed: 04 April 2022

Dirk Sijmons, founder of the H+N+S office, author of the Dutch climate adaptation programme Room for the River, and former State Landscape Architect of the Netherlands. The seminar examined the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy from a spatial design perspective.

With the Paris Agreement of 2015 the EU and its member states solemnly committed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by an ambitious 90-100% by 2050 in order to keep the rise of global temperatures ‘well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels’. The most important instrument to do so will be the transition to renewable energy sources. This energy transition will not be without complications and battles, as it will be felt in all facets of our society. In this lecture Dirk Sijmons will sketch out the spatial and landscape effects that will emerge at different scales – from pan-European to the individual household – should we take these goals seriously. Sijmons will show that it is essential to link the transition process to multiple societal goals and avoid devising isolated, or siloed, technical solutions. Landscape is not a static backdrop of a new energy infrastructure but an actor of energy transition in its own right. Sijmons considers spatial thinking offered by planners, landscape architects and architects as crucial and recommends research by design to make a strong political impact, as shown in the Netherlands, where spatial expertise has come to sit at the table of the Dutch energy transition policymaking.

Dirk Sijmons worked at several Ministries and the State Forestry Service in the Netherlands (1977-1989). In 1990 he was one of the founders of H+N+S Landscape Architects, Amersfoort, where he focused on designing regional plans and research projects. Sijmons was appointed the first State Landscape Architect of the Netherlands (2004-2008). He held the chair of Environmental Design (2008-2011) and that of Landscape Architecture (2011-2015) at the Technical University of Delft. In 2007 Sijmons received the Edgar Doncker Prize for his contribution to Dutch Culture. In 2017 the International Federation of Landscape Architects awarded to him the prestigious Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe Award. In 2014 Dirk Sijmons was the curator of the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam under the theme of Urban by Nature. Sijmons has published several books in English: = Landscape, Greetings from Europe, Landscape and Energy, Moved Movement and Room for the River.

Panel discussion


Date: 17 January 2019

Keynote speaker: Dirk Sijmons, Professor em. of Landscape Architecture, Delft University

Sandra Johanne Selander, Climate- and Energy strategist, Länsstyrelsen Skåne
Andrea Kahn, professor of Site Thinking in Practice and Theory, SLU

Moderator: Lisa Diedrich, SLU Urban Futures

VenueSTUDIO, Malmö

Host: Altitude Meetings

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