Juliana Giraldo and Oleksandra Tkachenko met during the UMD programme in 2016. IHS is where their friendship and fruitful collaboration started. Together, they recently successfully participated in the Jong BNSP Schalkwijk Midden prijsvraag competition in Harleem, The Netherlands, on the input of their classmate, Max Van Gils.

Haarlem Municipality organised the competition looking for inspirational designs to transform of Schalkwijk Midden district. Juliana and Oleksandra’s proposal, a framework based on trading and mutual trust, put people first. To reach such a people-based project, Juliana and Oleksandra had to admit that urban professionals should not be omniscient in the building of a city or an area. Indeed, ghost cities, abandoned areas and buildings emerge because urban professionals only focus on functions, forms, and numbers. A detailed master plan does not solve every stage of city development: it is the citizens that make urban settlements special and livable. What Schalkwijk needed was not buildings, but rather people cooperating towards a common goal.

Our UMD alumni were especially inspired by their professor Carlos Morales, thanks to his energetic and dynamic ways of teaching. He helped them understand the concepts surrounding the development of rights and responsibilities which they used in their proposal. Their project encourages co-creation and trust, as including citizens into the building of the community easily reduces the number of resources needed by local authorities for allocation and development. It truly is a win-win situation.

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Cities make people’s dreams happen. They live in and share a community where they can fairly trade dreams and expectations. Juliana and Oleksandra’s proposal urges people to share ideas and enjoy each other’s company. This would all lead to the formation of a place where diverse ways of doing and thinking are integrated, and can lead to improved safety and less infrastructure load. These places become then less dependent, more resilient and all the more attractive to live in.

Their top-5 placement in the competition definitely opened doors for Juliana and Oleksandra. They had the opportunity to meet professionals with the same mindset, ready to listen and develop the innovative ideas of young graduates. Their success was a boost of confidence for both women, whom now believe in themselves just as much as IHS do. Way to go alumni!


About the authors

Juliana Giraldo from Colombia and Oleksandra Tkachenko from Ukraine are both IHS alumni from the Urban Management and Development master programme 2016. They recently graduated and decided to stay in the Netherlands to pursue their urban dreams and work projects.

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