City-zen crossed interviews – TU Delft and Queen’s University Belfast

TU Delft

Craig Martin

Queen’s University Belfast

Greg Keeffe


Why are you part of the project ?

Craig Martin : My role is to coordinate the ‘Roadshow’, together with its student-focused precursor, the ‘SWAT Studio’. I define the Roadshow method by which the team approaches each hosting city. The aim is to actively engage key city decision makers and stakeholders with an international recognized specialist team of sustainability experts. The final aim is to jointly propose a future sustainable ‘City Vision’.

The SWAT Studio visits each hosting city before the start of the Roadshow. Here, building technology Master’s students from the Delft University of Technology collaborate with architecture and urban design students from the hosting city to propose creative urban interventions on the identical Roadshow project site. The SWAT Studio builds in advance of the Roadshow lasting and effective relationships with the city that continue into the Roadshow and beyond.

Greg Keeffe : I want to change the world. The team thought this was the best way we could have a big impact.


Can you talk to us more about the Roadshow ?


G.K. : The roadshow was originally my idea !  I thought it would be a good idea to take the power of design and imagination that the team had with respect to urban sustainability and place it directly in neighbourhoods that most needed it.

So that’s what we do. We go off to a city, engage with city government, citizens and academics and in a short space of time (1 week) deliver a future vision for them that takes new technologies and lifestyles and binds them together in a strategy plan for carbon descent.

To do all that in 5 days is a challenge but we have a brilliant interdisciplinary team who really work well together.
Also the way the city engages with us in such a short timescale is so different that it allows them to be more imaginative and free thinking. Which is liberating for them.

C.M. : To arrive in a city with specialist knowledge is not enough. To offer a city a list of solutions without coherently and openly defining the city challenges is fruitless. To leave a city with a future blueprint exclusively conceived by the visitor will fail in the long-term. This is the Roadshow view.

The Roadshow is a unique event; its solutions are vital, hard earned, candid and realizable. It aims to bring together people with many differing interests and specialisms, but also many varied aspirations of what the city offers now, and what it should perhaps offer in the future. To ensure that outcomes of this collaboration are from the city, and by the city, the Roadshow and SWAT Studio actively seeks the participation of the motivated, the informed and the open-minded.


The roadshow team at Izmir (Turkey) – April 2016

What are the expected impacts on cities and on citizens ?

C.M. : The Roadshow, and accompanying SWAT Studio has now visited Belfast (United Kingdom) and Izmir(Turkey). Both were successful in defining neighborhood challenges and proposing potential energy strategies and urban spatial interventions to help meet them.

Belfast has, and continues to face many societal and political challenges. This in turn has dramatically influenced its urban form, and with it, its intermittent relationship with energy and environment. In Izmir, obviously with a completely different urban pattern and climate than in Northern Ireland, has a similar dependency on car use. These and many other lifestyle dynamics and choices, voluntarily and forced, would be taken into account during the 5-Day Roadshow.

G.K. : We want to produce a blueprint for rapid change. We not only describe the problems but suggest interventions at different scales and timescales that can make a massive change in a short time.

What are the results ?


G.K. : The results are firstly a positive way of engaging with the complexities of the future. Secondly we give a range of appropriate technologies that can be utilised. And finally we try to unlock latent place based potentials that can empower citizens.

C.M. : The results are both quantitative and qualitative. They relate to specifically to a series of ‘energy scenarios’ and potentials for one particular neighborhood, and to social and spatial design interventions at various scales within that neighborhood. More detailed information of the outcome of each Roadshow can be seen in the City-zen sharepoint.

Two significant results of the Belfast and Izmir Roadshow’s, other than the proposals themselves, is the continued development of the methodology itself, and the passionate discussions that take place between the city stakeholders and citizens following the final presentation on the last day (Day 5). Here, the ideas begin to have a realizable life beyond the Roadshow. The next Roadshow will take place in Dubrovnik (Croatia) from 31st Nov to 4th Nov 2016.

What does “new urban energy” mean to you ?

C.M. : People, Communication, Creativity & Energy….

G.K. : New urban energy is no longer purely physics. Energy is a community focus, maybe a business. It’s also the way we change our relationship with the planet, which is essential. And finally its interdisciplinary: food is energy, mobility is energy so is water. New urban energy considers all these things.

  • The Project

    A city operating entirely on clean energy. In theory, it's possible. But in real life? How to integrate new solutions in existing buildings, systems and people's lives? What are the technical, economic or social barriers? And how to overcome these? That's what we've learned by doing in 20 projects in Grenoble and Amsterdam.

  • Our Activities

  • Achieved Impacts

    • 20 innovations in Grenoble & Amsterdam
    • 35,000 tonnes CO2 saved per year
    • 76,000 m² renovated residential buildings
    • 10,000 dwellings connected to a Smart Grid