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Call for Fellows 2021

Graphic design: Alex Walker

Graphic design: Alex Walker

Since its foundation in 2013, Het Nieuwe Instituut has carried out and supported research in architecture, design and digital culture. Exhibitions, lectures, archival investigations and publications have served as outputs of research, but more importantly as active platforms for its development. Het Nieuwe Instituut's Fellowship Programme has a fundamental role in these platforms. Intended as a means of supporting and learning from a variety of research initiatives and methodologies, the fellowship is ultimately an opportunity to rehearse other modes of thinking and doing.

Following the calls of recent years on the body's burn-out (2018), planetary exhaustion (2019), and 'regeneration' through new institutional practices (2020), the 2021 iteration of the Open Call for Fellows doesn't propose a theme to which applicants have to respond. Instead, it offers a channel through which to amplify the applicant's own issues of concern.

With the 2021 Open Call, Het Nieuwe Instituut turns the gaze outwards, to accommodate something that we don't yet know. In recognising the perils of institutions not having a finger on the pulse of society, as well as the many blind spots of institutions and the peoples who work in them, the 2021 call leaves the theme open, allowing applicants to decide what is relevant for them and the world today.


Het Nieuwe Instituut publicly advocates for research and design practices that exceed the notion of individual authorship and include multiple perspectives, activate multiple channels for the distribution of research outcomes, and construct a network of collaborators and other institutional contacts, both within the Netherlands and abroad. With this call, Het Nieuwe Instituut continues supporting collaborative practices within design, architecture and digital culture. The call, however, does not impose ideas on what collaboration implies, nor does it provide guidelines on the relationships that it involves.

Applicants are encouraged to submit a proposal that addresses their current investigations, explorations, and obsessions through the lens of architecture, design and digital culture. Proposals should clearly state the main focus, aims, and the socio-economic, nature-cultural, and political context in which they are based. They may incorporate a larger system of reference, schools of critical thought and transdisciplinary practices, and non-academic references, as well as different forms of engagement and co-creation. They may contain the seeds, or ruins, of what is coming nex,t or propose ways to hold space for future generations - while accounting for something that we don't yet know.

All applications will be reviewed based on their engagement with contemporary challenges, the depth of investigation, and connection to Het Nieuwe Instituut's mission. Preference will be given to proposals that demonstrate critical and forward thinking, specificity, situatedness and a distinctive research theme and methodology.

About the Research Fellowships

Het Nieuwe Instituut offers two Research Fellowship positions for six months (from October 2021 to March 2022). Each of these positions includes a maximum budget of 20,000 euros. Stipends may be subject to a withholding tax.

There is no age limit for applicants. Individuals and collectives from all places of residence are invited to apply. Neither a curriculum vitae nor letters of recommendation are requested. The fellowships are open to all degree levels in all disciplines (design, architecture and digital culture). Equal priority will be given to those without a degree or institutional affiliation who can also demonstrate a high level of creativity, critical thought and other potential in their respective fields.

Fellows are responsible for arranging their own accommodation. Fellows must be able to attend regular meetings (in Rotterdam or via video calls). The Research Fellowships will be developed through independent research and development; individual support and interaction with the Research Department team; and meetings to discuss thematic and methodological aspects of the project.

The fellows are invited to organise a public presentation in late 2021 or early 2022, as part of Het Nieuwe Instituut's Thursday Night Live! or other programmes. The research outcomes of the fellowship will also be published on an ongoing basis on Het Nieuwe Instituut's website and in its newsletter or other publications. The project may contribute to future exhibitions or events or develop independently of the public programmes at Het Nieuwe Instituut.

Fellows have daily access to the facilities of Het Nieuwe Instituut, including the library, archives, exhibitions, workspaces and presentation spaces. Other resources may be available in concert with other departments of Het Nieuwe Instituut as well as its ongoing institutional partnerships.

Previous fellows include Dele Adeyemo, Ramon Amaro, Andrea Bagnato, Daphne Bakker, Annet Dekker, Natalie Dixon, Tal Erez, Sara Frikech, Elisa Giuliano, Dan Handel, Ruben Jacobs, Chris Kabel, Christopher Lee, Roos Meerman, Christien Meindertsma, Malique Mohamud, Simone C Niquille, O grupo inteiro, Paolo Patelli, Sascha Pohflepp, Resolve Collective, Claudia Rot, Malkit Shoshan, Matthew Stadler, Noam Toran and Füsun Türetken. More information about them can be found here.

Selection process

A pre-selection of applicants will be made by members of the Research Department: Janilda Bartolomeu, Delany Boutkan, Alessandra Fudoli, Ludo Groen, Marten Kuijpers, Klaas Kuitenbrouwer, Setareh Noorani, Federica Notari, Carolina Pinto and Katía Truijen. More information about the pre-selection team can be found here.

An international jury will then select the two fellows. Jury members include Katerina Chuchalina ((Chief curator at the V-A-C Foundation, Co-founder of the Centre for Experimental Museology, and co-curator of Manifesta 13 biennial in Marseille), Simone C Niquille (Researcher, designer, lecturer and former Fellow at Het Nieuwe Instituut), Felicity D. Scott (Professor of Architecture, Director of the PhD program in Architecture (History and Theory), and Co-Director of the CCCP program at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University), Squirrel Nation: Erinma Ochu and Caroline Ward (research collective working at the intersection of design, technology and ecology) and Marina Otero Verzier (Director of Research, Het Nieuwe Instituut and Head of the Social Design Masters at Design Academy Eindhoven). More information about the jury members can be found here.

The members of the jury will have access to all applications and can add any proposal to the pre-selection list at their discretion. All applications will be reviewed on the basis of their engagement with the fellowship theme, depth of investigation, idiosyncrasy, connection to Het Nieuwe Instituut's mission and potential for exchange across disciplinary boundaries.

Submission requirements and deadline

Applications may be submitted from 24 June to 13 August, 2021.

Send your application to: Your application should include:

  • A self-introduction and an introduction of the project preferably contained in a link to a video file (maximum 3 minutes). This introduction could take other formats if the applicant is not comfortable with or not able to use video. Applicants could additionally send graphic material such as drawings, images or digital items (maximum 10)
  • A proposed calendar and a working methodology or research approach (maximum 300 words)
  • Contact information (full name, country of residence, email address, telephone number)
  • Give your file the title of your name and the research proposal, in the following format: APPLICANTNAME_PROJECTNAME.pdf
  • Applications and supplementary materials should be in English and submitted, by attachment, as a single PDF, consisting of a maximum of five A4 sheets.

We understand that English proficiencies may vary. We also recognise that English may not be the applicant's first or primary language. As such - even though proposals should be submitted in English - all proposals will be considered on the sole basis of the criteria specified above, regardless of English language skills. Proposals should, however, be as thorough and specific as possible. Unfortunately, we are not able to offer translation support at this time. Applicants with reasonable adjustments and specific needs are encouraged to contact about the availability of any support services.

There is no entry fee for the call for fellows.


Developments around Covid-19 and/or the restrictions imposed by governments will be taken into account. It may be impossible for the fellowship to take place during the period mentioned above, for instance because of travel restrictions from/to the country of residence, or the impossibility of carrying out the proposal. In case the timeline is not feasible, the fellowship may be postponed or the proposal may need to be adapted to the current conditions.

More information

If you have questions, please contact before 16 July. After this date, please see the frequently asked questions below.


  • Can individuals apply to the open call or is the open call only for collaborations?
    Individuals applying to the open call are more than welcome, however, we encourage a collaborative angle to the proposal. What this 'collaborative angle' entails, who is part of this collaboration and how 'collective work' or 'collaboration' is defined is fully dependent on the context and situatedness of the research and its research methodology.

  • The video is a preferred format in the application, however could I also send my application in the form of a written proposal?
    We sympathise with the video format not being too comfortable of a format to all applicants. If a written proposal is preferred we would kindly ask you to stay within the four A4 pages.

  • How much flexibility is there in terms of carrying out the fellowship in Rotterdam, digitally or in other locations?
    We are hoping to be able to meet the fellows in Rotterdam for a shorter or longer timeframe, however we are open to various formats of site-specific or remote research for the six months Fellowship according to the needs of the project and the Covid-regulations around that time.

  • Are applicants expected to outline the format of their research outcomes (such as publication, exhibition, etc) in their applications?
    For applicants, it is advised to focus on the framework of the research and its methodologies. However, applications are welcome to suggest possible research outcomes and formats.

  • Do research projects have to encompass architecture, design ánd digital culture?
    Project proposals do not have to include all these disciplines (design, architecture and digital culture), but can also depart from one, bridge multiple or apply to a wider system of references.

  • How are applicants expected to specify costs for the project proposal?
    As the fellowship is intended to create space and time for research; we don't require applicants to specify details of the cost for the project.

  • When is the final deadline to submit applications?
    The final deadline is August 13 at 23:59 CEST.