Public Program

  • Popular School of Urbanism
    Marije van Lidth de Jeude & Oliver Schütte

For many years, we have focused on participatory design and bottom-up approaches for urban development at different scales; this image is taken from a workshop in Monteverde, Costa Rica, 2010. Courtesy of A-01.

The vicious circle of spatial fragmentation and social segregation in Costa Rica's Greater Metropolitan Area (GAM) has led to a rejection of public spaces, by citizens who withdraw into their own, privately controlled, urban life-worlds. In this context, the Popular School of Urbanism (PSU) offers participatory workshops, for citizens to acquire the necessary analysis, planning, and design skills regarding issues that affect their neighborhoods, so they can interact with and develop tools to solve these issues in a bottom-up manner. Each workshop module will consist of four components: theory and best practices; local DNA analysis; solutions and design development; and practical implementation, to be cofinanced by the community, municipality, and private sector. All modules and implementations will be published in an open-source manual for learning purposes and future applications. Through citizen empowerment and appropriation of the coauthored projects, the PSU is aiming at long-term recovery of an urban public space in denial.

Marije van Lidth de Jeude earned her bachelor’s degree in commercial economy and her master’s degree in cultural anthropology from the University of Utrecht. She has worked for various development agencies, such as Oxfam Novib, City Links Nicaragua–Netherlands, and the Dutch Ministry of Development Cooperation. Since 2002, she has worked in Latin America as a project manager for socioeconomic development. She specializes in participatory methods, as they apply to topics like urban planning and design, rural development, gender equity, migration, socioeconomic vulnerability, and support to community-based organizations. Between 2002 and 2005, she worked for the UN-based organization IFAD in Costa Rica. After cofounding A-01,  van Lidth de Jeude has led many multidisciplinary and intercultural teams in various projects, including research on urban culture for a metropolitan planning program by the Costa Rican government, cofinanced by the European Union. In 2014, she cocurated the Costa Rica Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale.

Oliver Schütte graduated as an architect–urbanist in Aachen, Germany. After working with Eisenman Architects and sculptor Richard Serra in New York (1997–98), he joined Rem Koolhaas at OMA/AMO for a six-year period in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. His projects include the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and the New Dutch Embassy in Berlin, which won the Mies van der Rohe Price in 2005. In addition, he has worked on the McCormick Tribune Campus Center at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, the Bordeaux House, the masterplan for the City of Breda ( The Netherlands), and the preservation plan for Beijing, among others. In 2005, he founded the multidisciplinary office A-01 (A Company/A Foundation) with Dutch anthropologist–economist Marije van Lidth de Jeude, which promotes integrally sustainable development. Schütte specializes in climate-dependent architecture and urban design. In 2014, he was commissioner and head curator of the first-ever Costa Rica Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale.