BK Public Programs: an interview

A gathering of hidden ideas and reflections from the inside out

Behind the walls of the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment there are many hidden gems of knowledge. “All that knowledge we have and want to share with each other. But we don’t have the time to do so.” Javier Arpa Fernández, curator of the BK Public Programs, tries to bring all that knowledge and people together into a program which brings the challenges and urgencies of our time to the table. BK Public Programs is accessible to anyone, inside and outside BK City.

The BK Public Programs include the BK Talks and the Berlage Keynotes (organized and hosted by the Berlage), as well as exhibitions, workshops, seminars and colloquia. Held every Thursday evening throughout the academic year, the BK Talks and the Berlage Keynotes are the place where ideas about the understanding, conception and production of the built environment are shared, discussed, and disseminated to a broad audience. Both the BK Talks and the Berlage Keynotes are broadcasted live and stored in the Faculty’s Youtube channel.

From the inside out

Dean of the faculty, Dick van Gameren, introduced BK Public Programs shortly after his appointment as Dean. “The main goal of BK Public Programs is to bring valuable knowledge from the inside out and from different perspectives. There are many opinions and views amongst all the members of our community (faculty, staff, students). Their ideas need to be more visible. It would be a shame to leave all this knowledge invisible and unknown. That's why I asked Javier Arpa Fernández to become curator for the program”, says Dick van Gameren.

Making connections

Javier: “The BK Public Programs are an invitation to reflect on the world outside the walls of our faculty. We want to bring together as many members of the faculty as possible (teachers, students and staff), offer them a platform to share ideas and solutions for issues that concern us all, and put them in contact with a broader audience outside the university campus. As a faculty, we produce a great deal of knowledge that often remains inside the walls of our building. Even more: some of this knowledge remains literally in our drawers. We want to change that.

The BK Public Programs have a public vocation. I would like to see all sort of stakeholders sitting in the Oostserre one day (from professionals and students to politicians and neighbors). We aspire to connect academia with everyone interested in the fabrication of the city. After all, the city cannot exist without the citizens.” 

Many talents, many beliefs

Javier: “I started the BK Public Programs by meeting with as many members of our community as possible, so as to learn how to stablish connections between departments, teachers, students... I realized we share many concerns, and this is how the programming of the BK Public Programs in general and of the BK Talks in particular started. Having our faculty members and students sitting around the same (virtual) table is one of our main goals. We are surrounded by many talents and amazing professors, but they don’t meet so often. By putting the BK Public Programs into motion, we hope we can make some things change.

Dick: “There are so many opinions and beliefs among everyone who is involved in the faculty in any way. We try to bring together all the topics that live here and create a coordinated program around them. At first the emphasis was on storytelling, but in the second series Javier has incorporated more discussions and debates into it. The next step would be how we link this to other activities such as exhibitions.” 

Looking forward

Dick: “A lot of fantastic people come to the faculty. There is often a lot of programming on Thursday evenings. The content is getting better, but the program must be looked at even more closely. Now it can be followed online, but hopefully the Public Programs will grow even more after Corona. The program evokes all kinds of reactions. Which is good. We must therefore prevent it from remaining in the corners of the building.”

Javier: “The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to make many last minute changes, including live online broadcasting from an empty room. We have thus learned to improvise a lot. But I am optimistic: the crisis we are in will pass, and we will let the general public enter our faculty every Thursday evening”.  

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