The Sandbox and Architecture - a podcast

The Sandbox and Architecture – a podcast

“The Sandbox and Architecture” is a podcast consisting of the recording of a conversation that took place in a sandbox in the Design and Dialogue Lab of the NEWROPE Chair of Architecture and Urban Transformation in the ONA building Zürich-Oerlikon on November 27, 2019.

The conversation took place in the context of the Schaerbeek (Trans-)Formation design studio between NEWROPE team members Falma Fshazi and Freek Persyn and Angelus Eisinger, historian and director of RZU (Planungsdachverband Region Zürich und Umgebung) and Kristiaan Borret, government architect (BMA) of the Brussels-Capital Region.

The 6x3m sand square was introduced in the context of the design studio as an open stage for the development and presentation of student projects. It turned out to be a meaningful testing ground to bring together two urban transformation experts in a spatial quality that Hannah Arendt would describe as “a space of appearance”:

“Unlike the spaces which are the work of our hands, it does not survive the actuality of the movement which brought it into being, but disappears not only with the dispersal of men — as in the case of great catastrophes when the body politic of a people is destroyed — but with the disappearance or arrest of the activities themselves. Wherever people gather together, it is potentially there, but only potentially, not necessarily and not forever” (HC, 199).

We live in times of social and political upheavals and sudden ruptures. Hannah Arendt, considered ruptures in her 1961 book ‘Between Past and Present’, as times of historical dislocation and displacement that enables fundamental opportunities: the possibility to reconsider tradition, identities, categories, and space. The spatial quality she refers to is a quality of public sphere and of citizenship engagement. With the Newrope Chair of Architecture and Urban Transformation we want architecture to (re)claim these values.

The conversation between barefoot speakers in a sandbox that started by quoting Hannah Arendt, revolved around personal and universal moments, the local and the metropolis, and the small urban stories that become a compass for rethinking the city.

These stories and experiences are situated in Tokyo, Barcelona, Antwerp, Venice as well as in Zürich, and are connected to each other through various forms of ephemeral and civic architecture. The conversation covered a wide range of topics, from more abstract notions, such as identity, scale, cityscape, the environment, transformation and planning to the use of mapping, photography and other forms of representation.

“The Sanbox and Architecture” is the second in a series of podcasts dealing with soft transformation.

Conversation between Angelus Eisinger, Kristiaan Borret, Falma Fshazi and Freek Persyn inside the sandbox in the Design in Dialogue in Zürich


Moderation: Falma Fshazi and Freek Persyn (Newrope team)
Recording by: ETHZ ID-Multimedia Services

Angelus Eisinger, is an urban design and planning historian and has been Director of Regionalplanung Zürich und Umgebung (RZU) since 2013 ( From 2008 until 2013, he was Professor of Metropolitan History and Culture at HafenCity University in Hamburg. His research focuses on the historical analysis of architectural, urban and spatial development.

Kritiaan Borret, is an architect and has been bouwmeester of the Brussels-Capital Region since 2015 ( From 2006 to 2014, he was bouwmeester of the City of Antwerp. He has also been a visiting professor of urban projects at the University of Ghent since 2005. He is Supervisor of Oostenburg for the City of Amsterdam (Netherlands). In 2013, he was awarded the Flemish Community’s Biennial Prize for Architecture.

With the contribution of: Ben Pohl - Urban Designer at denkstatt, former Newrope team member and Ben Dirixck - Architect - Team bouwmeester maître architecte.

Bruno Latour, Où atterrir ? Comment s'orienter en politique, La Découverte, 2017.
Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition, Second Edition, Chicago University Press, 1998.
Hannah Arendt, Between Past and Future, The Viking Press Publishers New York.
Richard Sennett, The Foreigner, Two Essays on Exile, Notting Hill Editions, 2011.