IntroductionIFOU CONSULTANCY (ICON) is a design and consultancy firm that specializes in two key services:
1.) Spatial planning [design]
2.) Consultancy and policy development focused on integral spatial development.
IFOU CONSULTANCY (ICON) found its roots within the extensive expertize network of the International Forum on Urbanism (IFoU), a non-profit foundation and think tank, established in the Netherlands and operational since 2004. As a foundation the IFOU represents a platform, the material realization of collaboration between foremost Asian and European universities as leaders within the fields of urbanism, research and urban development. Years of debate within the IFOU framework, and in view of the need of knowledge exchange on spatial development within the more critical global context and non-occidental urban development has rendered visible the demand for an integral approach with regard to urbanism. In line with this, as well as in order to bridge the gap between ‘knowing’ problems [problem identification] and providing solutions, IFOU CONSULTANCY (ICON) advocates an approach that specifically seeks integral urbanism [urbanization] framework. Integral urbanism can be defined as a two-sided tool, expressed through [a] research and [b] design. At first it is necessary to utilize research and design, by introducing research-by-design and design-by-research concepts into the spatial development and the profession of urbanism.
InsightsIn view of the fast urbanization in particular in Asia and the environmental degradation worldwide, human society is now facing many critical spatial issues.
Citizen’s City, advocated by Prof. Chujoe Hsia, is neither a playground for neo-liberal experiments nor a niche for grassroots communities. It is the spatial expression of the civil society, able to bridge the demands of the local and the global, the present and the future. It is based on the participation of the active citizen, giving priority to the identity of the particular, in this way adapting as well as limiting the universal dogmas of globalization. Citizen’s City is a principle of hope for the further urbanization of Asia.
PermaCity, introduced by Prof. Jürgen Rosemann as the main theme of the 2007 IFoU Conference, stands as an integrated approach towards urban sustainability and covers all dimensions of the urban society. Environmental -, economic – and social sustainability are the basic requirements of a sustainable PermaCity. Last but not least, cultural development is a necessary condition of a sustainable society. PermaCity invites people to reflect on the developmental aspects of urbanization and to focus on the primary questions: how to steer and shape the process of urbanization without traumatizing our urban planet? With this in mind, the IFOU CONSULTANCY invites decision makers, urban planners, architects and users of the built environment, to question as well as to seek design principles capable of shaping sustainable cities and regions with an ultimate goal of how to generate the conditions necessary to secure the PermaCity ideal.
MissionIFOU CONSULTANCY (ICON) is operated as a commercial entity, the spirit remains similar to the founding reason for the IFoU, being a belief grounded in the idea that spatial design and spatial development can no longer neglect the importance of collaboration and debate between multi-disciplines, multi-expertise and multi-cultural orientation. More importantly it is our premise that realization and implementation of the spatial development is regarded equally important to the ‘theorization’ of spatial subjects. Spatial design and urban development have to be ‘distilled’ pro-actively within the layered framework of an open, coordinated, platform between various actors; decision makers, developers, designers, users interactively, integrally and dynamically. Instead of acting as a solo design firm the essential approach of IFOU CONSULTANCY is to work with alliances and partners, experts and specialists, governmental institutes and private sectors as integral mechanism on the following thematic clusters:
Regional Development and Territorial Study
Regional development is a long-term evolution, which needs to consider the overall strategic approach of political, economic, spatial and social impact. Regional development is required to cope with local demands and territorial study, to inevitably adjust global conditions to local and cultural parameters. Groundwork for regional and territorial development needs to construct mechanisms of multi-layered design approaches by inviting key experts, by using innovative design tools, and circulating design process in an open and dialectic setting. At each stage a dynamic monitoring process is to be implemented whereby short-term adjustments are made and the socio-cultural context is assessed .
Strategic Blueprint and Capacity Building
The general objectives of the urban planning capacity building and urban based strategies are to enhance the capability of different stakeholders within regional development. This can be reached through recognition of the main developing strategies in relation to the diversity of players and resources within local conditions. Each variable or participant constitutes a whole operational unit to which the different taylor-made programs can be developed or adjusted, dependant on contextual demands.
The course aims to enhance the effectiveness of urban design in relation to the new challenges brought by the actual complexity of a ‘global’ urban dynamic, and in its wake the specific conditions of globalization. Main scientific themes under this approach include; sustainable mobility, urban landscapes, transformation and regeneration of the global metropolis.
Consultancy of Policy Making and Planning Strategy
Based on the IFoU network, IFOU CONSULTANCY brings together expertize from Europe and Asia. Special attention is given to the contextual aspects of individual countries and their associated planning cultures. We provide consultancy on policy making and planning strategy, supported by a research-by-design approach. Ultimately the services include actual planning schemes and design guidelines while the capacity building and training courses are meant to facilitate introduction and integration of the process within local capacity and its levels of implementation.
Sustainable Urban Planet
Sustainability remains a key concern of our time. The limited energy resources, greenhouse effects, rising sea levels, flooding caused by melting glaciers and the bareness caused by shifting climate zones are subjects of many international debates between politicians, scientists and professionals. Vast opportunity exists to improve the ecological conditions of cities by planning and designing the type and specificity of interventions. However, what is less recognized is how to combat social contradictions within the city and its extensive regions, especially regions caught between what is deemed as ‘rural’ and what is ‘urban’. For example, a key question remains the development of new and attractive housing types and whilst how to generate appropriate spatial conditions for social integration. For all these demands, it is crucial to cross the borders of disciplinary limitations and expert knowledge. To enable disciplinary collaboration, IFOU CONSULTANCY acts as a mediator who invites experts, and their multiple angles of expertise, to unify various knowledge sets, actors and design positions into the material and actual projects for the sustainable urban planet.
Urban Design and Master Planning
With regard to rapid urbanization, in particular in Asia and other developing countries, urban design and urban planning can be useful tools to mediate urban development. In reality, planning approaches were becoming more incoherent and fragmented as aspects of planning were increasingly defined by wider and highly complex range of issues. This inevitably led to the inability of translating classic modes of planning and their spatial models and system into a definable ‘blueprint’. The promotion of integral urbanism- including urban design and master planning, advocates a less object-oriental and more process-oriented understanding of the condition of urban space. In addition, planning approaches has to be able to adapt and absorb the ever-changing public sphere. Planning approaches should be a situation-specific mechanism in which planning seeks to find a diversity of solutions at different levels of scale.
Urban Renewal and Regeneration
Under the circumstances of rapid urban development, urban degradation should be one of the main concerns for Asian cities. Apart from the physical improvement and conservation, the socio-economic revitalization is an indispensable aspect within any strategy of urban regeneration. The European tradition of urban regeneration saw the development of local economy and job opportunities as part and parcel of early attempts to regenerate urban landscapes. Local business where directly involved in regenerative planning shifting the residential only focus to that of space of opportunity and business creation, bringing to bare the importance of both physical and non-physical measures and variables as part of urban regeneration strategies.
About usIFOU CONSULTANCY (ICON) is currently led by Dr. Chiu-Yuan [Vivienne] Wang. She is supported by renowned scholars, designers and planners in the field of urbanism and spatial development in both Asia and Europe.
Dr Wang received her education as architect and urban planner in Taiwan and the Netherlands. She obtained her doctoral degree [specialization in Urbanism] from the Faculty of Architecture, Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands. Between 2004 and 2013 Dr. Wang held the position of researcher and teacher at the Department of Urbanism, Delft University of Technology. In 2004, she initiated the collaboration between European and Asian universities in the field of urbanism, establishing the International Forum on Urbanism (IFoU), which currently is a network of 17 leading universities and knowledge institutes.
Her main field of research focuses on changing planning cultures under the influence of societal and economic transformations, urban management and strategies for spatial planning. Her research “Between Flexibility and Reliability- Changing Planning Culture in China”  provides special insight on urban transformation and the transformation of planning culture of contemporary China. Beside her scientific work she also promotes integral urbanism as professional mechanism for urban development and spatial design.
With more then 10 years working experience in Asian and Europe, she established the IFOU CONSULTANCY (ICON), in addition to International Forum on Urbanism (IFOU).
Mr. Atem Ramsundersingh is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Member of the Board of Directors of WEnergy Global [alliance and partner of IFOU CONSULTANCY (ICON)]. He holds a Masters Degree in Infrastructure Engineering from Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands, whilst also receiving training at the Harvard Business School (USA) and Cambridge University (UK).
Mr Ramsundersingh was the former CEO and Member of the Board of Directors of Turiya Technologies, Pte Ltd, a Singapore based company. He brings in over 25 years of international experience and knowledge related to business and project development within emerging economies, complex decision-making and financing environments. Mr Ramsundersingh currently is the Chairman of the Asia-Europe Foundation for Dialogue and Exchange for Sustainable Development. He’s vast network reach across 65 countries, including numerous multilateral agencies. Other work experience includes The World Bank Group (Washington DC, USA) and UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water and Environment (Delft, The Netherlands).
Mr. Feng has 14 years experience in masterplanning and architecture. His portfolio combines a rich mix of commercial, residential, hospitality, retail and entertainment projects in China, South East Asia and Middle East. His signature projects include; The “Shanghai Xintiandi” in China, The Orchid Garden in Beijing developed by Singapore Capital Land, China 1st Pullman Resort in Sanya Yalongbay, 600 keys Hilton Resort in Wenchang, Hainan, China, Khalifa University Conceptual Masterplan in Abu Dhabi and Singapore One-North Eco Park Urban Transformation Research.
He has worked with a variety of International firms, which include Nikken Sekkei. He is currently the director of OLSA Design International Group, Shanghai, an alliance organization to IFOU CONSULTANCY.
Mr. Tony Lai received his education as architect and urban designer in Taiwan. He is an experienced practitioner who has more than 10 years experience in spatial design in Taiwan, China and South East Asia. In addition, he is familiar with real estate development and investment. Mr Lai previously held the position of chief designer of Durban, Taiwan.
Mr. Jiang has many years of experience in urban planning and design. He holds a B.Sc. in urban planning from Polytechnic of Milan in Italy (POLIMI), a M.Sc. in urban design from National University of Singapore (NUS). He has worked in laboratory of simulation in Polytechnic of Milan as an urban designer, work in Shanghai Tongji Urban Planning & Design Institute (TJUPDI) as an urban planner. His portfolio combines a rich mix of urban development, general master plan, and public space, concept plan projects in China, South East Asia and European. At the same time, he also participated in planning research activities, to promote the theory and technology of Chinese and foreign urban planning. He is currently the standing vice manager and project director of OLSA Design-Shanghai in China, an alliance organization to IFOU CONSULTANCY.
ExpertiseIFOU CONSULTANCY (ICON) retains a number of international professionals as knowledgeable experts and based on their specialist approaches. On the one hand, the collection of experts converge experiences that reflect their professional involvements in practice throughout Europe, South-America and Asia. On the other, their academic backgrounds and trainings distinguish them in processing strategic visioning of future development, policymaking and roadmaps for solutions.
Prof. Henco Bekkering is a Dutch urban designer and the former head of the Urbanism Department, Faculty of Architecture, Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands.
He has been a designer in practice and partner of HKB Stedenbouwkundigen of the Netherlands for more than twenty years. Well-known projects under his leadership include the Hanzeland area, Zwolle Station and the new Alphen aan den Rijn city center, both in the Netherlands.
He concentrates on urban projects, the relationship between urban design and architecture and the layout of urban spaces, emphasizing great importance on the historical stratification of the urban localities.
Prof. Joaquín Sabaté Bel is the founder of the International Laboratory of Cultural Landscapes and director of the journal ‘Identities’. Presently Prof Sabaté Bel is Chair of Town Planning and coordinator of the PhD, Master in Urbanism and Regional Design Programs at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, Spain.
He is an active urbanist and designer of CCRS, a company established at the beginning of the 80’s by a group of architects and professors from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia’s (UPC) Town Planning Department. He is responsible for urban and regional plans in different European and South American countries. He is the three times recipient of the Spanish National Prize of Urbanism, Catalonian Prize of Urbanism and Special Prize for Heritage Plans.
In addition he is the author of more than hundred books and book chapters, more than a hundred articles in specialised journals, and promoter of 30 PhD dissertations.
Prof Sabaté Bel acts as Advisor of the Research Commissions in Cataluña, Spain, Italy, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay.
Prof. Yu has been teaching and doing research for more than 40 years in both the Civil and Environmental Engineering Departments of the National Taiwan University. He is now the Emeritus professor of NTU as well as a board certified member of the American Academy of Environmental Engineers since 2011.
Prof. Yu’s expertise is in the field of water and waste water treatment research and practice. He also majors in Environmental Planning and Management.
Mr. Rob Docter is the former General Director of the Berlage Institute, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
He consults worldwide on various subjects related to the larger cultural position of architecture, including education policies and the integration, conservation, and development of urban heritage. As of September 2012 mr Docter has established himself as an independent policy consultant and interim manager in the field of architecture, urban development and the preservation of historic monuments.
Dr. Yu received his master and doctoral degree in urban planning from Inha University, Korea.
He is the legal representative of the Beijing Hua Jingwei Planning & Design, the senior engineer of the department of data center, Changping Branch Bureau of Beijing and a member of the Municipal Commission of Urban Planning. In addition, he is the senior advisor of the Incheon Development Institute of Korea and the serves as a planning consultant of Yanji City, Jilin
IN addition to his work in practice dr Yu is an academic lecturer and researcher at the College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Beijing University of Technology.
Dr. ir. Gerhard Bruyns is a South African born architect and urbanist. He presently holds the position of Assistant Professor of Environment and Interior Design, School of Design at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong.
Previously Dr. Bruyns held tenure as faculty member of the Delft School of Design, Faculty of Architecture, Delft University of Technology [TU Delft], the Netherlands. In 2008 he was invited to join the Delft School of Design [TU Delft], an advanced research unit focused on combining critical theory, philosophy and design [architecture and urbanism] into a coherent MSc and PhD design program.
Dr Bruyns has lectured at a number of universities globally, and acted as invited jury member to architecture schools in South Africa, Asia, South America, the US and Europe. Areas of expertize include; Geopolitical conditions related to spatial entities and the contemporary city; formal and spatial questions related to rapid forms of urbanization / spatial militarization, morphological expression as part of geopolitical and neoliberal forms of development, Post-segregated spatial landscapes.
Associate architects and planers
Dr. HUI is a lecturer and researcher at Beijing University of Technology, Beijing, China. His previous work experience includes being a consultant on large-scale urban planning in Shenzhen, Shijiazhuang and further afield in China.
With many years of practice in both architectural design and urban planning, Dr. Hui contributes his expertize in advanced international concepts and domestic projects. He is committed to the combination of innovation and practicality in architectural design and urban planning.
Mr. Liu is a national class 1st registered architect with years of experience in architecture, planning and interior design with special emphasis of “expression of independent design thinking” concept.
Presently Mr Liu is employed at the Fadizhongtian-Beijing Institute of Architectural Design whilst running an independent practice. He has led design teams on a number of central engineering services for the central system and restoration projects of historic buildings. He is recipient of the 1st price in the Fifth Outstanding Survey and Design by Capital Planning Commission, for his Central Guard Bureau 305 Hotel, Beijing.
Masatoshi Oka is a multi field Architect who designs from graphic + web to architecture + Urban Planning.
After graduation from TU Delft, he worked for world leading architectural offices in Denmark, Spain and Japan. He designs not only actual space but also communication in space. He believes that space is not consist of elements but communication of elements, emotion, sound, information and etc and he uses graphical and interactive designs as one of the key tools to construct flexible and desirable flows of infomation and communication in (and of) spaces.
The launch of IFOU CONSULTANCY (ICON) website.
305 Alexandra Road,