Studio René Boer

René Boer (1986, he/him) works as a critic, curator and organizer in and beyond the fields of architecture, art, design and heritage. He is based between Amsterdam and Cairo and is a driving force behind the Failed Architecture platform. In recent years he developed a wide array of exhibitions, public programmes and research projects, often with a focus on spatial justice, urban imaginations and queer tactics. His current projects include Contemporary Commoning, an experimental exploration of the relation between art and (urban) commons; Terraforming Indonesia, a programme investigating and reimaginging large-scale land reclamations in collaboration with the ruangruapa collective; and Smooth City, a forthcoming publication on the obsession with perfection in cities worldwide.

selected projects
Architecture of Appropriation
Contemporary Commoning
Failed Architecture
Grounded Urban Practices
Post-Fossil City
Reimagining Cairo
Smooth City
Terraforming Indonesia
The Right to Build
Useful Life

Grounded Urban Practices

Grounded Urban Practices (GUPs) is an ongoing research and international network developed in collaboration with the Cairo-based CLUSTER studio. The project examines the rise of a new kind of urban practice in cities worldwide, and stimulates their interaction. After having started in Cairo, Tunis, Rotterdam and Amsterdam, the project is currently expanding to Berlin.

CLUSTER's Kodak Passage, Cairo.

GUPs are projects, initiatives or collectives which seek to challenge the status quo by using space as a key agent of change. While doing so, they firmly root themselves in communities, social movements or local areas, and experiment with new legal, financial and organizational models by applying new strategies and methods.

Stad in de Maak, Rotterdam.

This project started with the observation that a wave of GUPs has emerged in Cairo and Tunis after the 2011 revolution and in Amsterdam and Rotterdam during the 2008-2012 financial crisis. After almost a decade of interventions challenging business-as-usual spatial production, many GUPs in both contexts face several difficulties today. In Egypt, the regime has managed to restore order, while in the Netherlands the economic upturn has ended some of the opportunities created by the crisis.

Haus der Statistik, Berlin.

The first publications contain an in-depth investigation of the work of GUPs in these cities, based on an extensive research and several meet-ups with the selected GUPs. Currently, in collaboration with the Zentrum für Kunst und Urbanistik (ZK/U) the research and the network are being expanded to Berlin, a city with a large scene of grounded urbanists. Plans to add other cities are currently in the making.