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Regeneration: Open Call for New Institutions

Het Nieuwe Instituut has instigated research in architecture, design and digital culture since its foundation in 2013, fostering programmes, exhibitions, lectures, archival investigations and publications in the Netherlands and internationally. Through its annual Fellowship programme, Het Nieuwe Instituut's Research Department acknowledges and gives visibility to research projects offering departures from established modes of thinking. For this iteration, the Open Call for Fellows focuses on the theme _'_Regeneration. New Institutional Practices.' Following last years' calls on the body's burn-out (2018) and planetary exhaustion (2019), the 2020 programme invites collectives to take current conditions of burn-out and exhaustion as a point of departure to generate forms of collective organization and action.

Graphic design by Jannete Mark.

Graphic design by Jannete Mark.

As an institution conceived to persistently reinvent, challenge and disrupt itself to stay 'anew', Het Nieuwe Instituut aims to reflect on and question institutional practices, the structures of social interaction they entail, and the networks they operate in and with, including its own.

New Institutional Practices

Institutions constitute a shared value system transcending individuals and individual intentions. They dictate the ways in which bodies organise and assemble; they host relations and stratify access; they normalise gender and racial subjectivities; they promote protocols to interact and communicate - all of which provide possibilities for political transformation. Regeneration. New Institutional Practices emphasises the need for generative, collective and practice-based endeavours to test and rehearse new notions of the institution and 'instituting'.

The call is an appeal to reimagine the protocols, collective decision-making processes, forms of care, working ethos and financial structures of institutions. It welcomes initiatives that make explicit the unacknowledged logic and consent mechanisms, as well as the often abstract and invisible forces and relations that traverse the social spaces of institutions.

Envisioning, bringing into practice and sustaining new institutions demands a reconsideration of established daily organisational structures, methodologies and dynamics. Therefore applicants are also invited to recognise the intimate connection between established and 'new' institutions, by reflecting upon the adaptability of existing systems and their ability to transform. How to relate to the past critically yet hopefully in conceiving new modes of living together? Could existing structures be reshaped as non-exploitative spaces for public good? How to set free the already existing potential in the world around us? How can design, architecture and digital culture contribute to, imagine and put in motion anti-racist, feminist, decolonial modes of institutional practice?

Collective Applications

Moving on from Het Nieuwe Instituut's previous calls for fellows - which were open to both individual and group applications - this year's call specifically invites collectives to apply. With this call, Het Nieuwe Instituut aims to support collaborative practices within design, architecture and digital culture, extending beyond the notion of individual authorship. No institution exists without all its constituent members, and organisational processes are as vital as imagination for the existence of any institution.

The call does not impose ideas on what collectiveness implies, nor does it provide guidelines on the number of members or the different relationships that should exist between them. From design networks to worker cooperatives, from collective households to biosystems, applicants are encouraged to reflect on - and reinterpret - their definition of a collective practice, and explain who counts as a collective: for instance, are multispecies and more-than-human collaborations emerging along human alliances?

Applying collectives are encouraged to submit a critical and forward-thinking research proposal that addresses the 2020-2021 core theme, and that aims to collectively disrupt, rethink, experiment, generate and gather new methodologies and forms of institutional practice in order to foster structures of support and care.

The proposal may depart from an existing institution, as well as propose the formation of a new or becoming institution, and may incorporate a larger system of references, schools of critical thought and transdisciplinary practices, as well as different forms of engagement. Ultimately, applicants should consider how their proposal might impact other institutional practices and methodologies, how they combine outward and inward thinking, how they engage with notions of scalar organisation or with more-than-human species, and how they operate beyond borders.

Along with their mission statement, proposals should also delve into the internal organisation and distribution of responsibilities and agency; the different forms in which work is understood and handled within the collective, not forgetting the immense labour of care; the shared values, expected behaviour and other guidelines either documented or left unspoken; and the protocols to credit and make public the involvement of each member.

Public Programme

Regeneration finds inspiration in existing initiatives such as:

  • Networks of self-initiated mutual aid groups
  • Self-organised, alternative approaches to social reproduction and the 'commoning' of tools, technologies and knowledge
  • Decolonial eco-feminist alliances and feminist economies
  • Cooperatives of humans and collective bodies of non-humans that support ecological regeneration
  • Indigenous and situated knowledge systems
  • Assemblies for climate and ecological justice
  • Socio-economic ecosystems that support commons-based, peer-to-peer care communities
  • Community-based forms of recovery, collection and preservation of memories, histories and stories of marginalised communities
  • Local systems of self-governance, gender equality and communal economy
  • Collective infrastructures based on free, open-source software ethics and alternative economies
  • Self-hosted, low-energy consumption, off-grid socio-political platforms.

A series of conversations and interviews with existing collectives will be published on Het Nieuwe Instituut's website, after the application process.

About the Research Fellowships

Het Nieuwe Instituut offers two Research Fellowship positions for six months (from October 2020 to March 2021). Each of these two positions includes a total budget of 20,000 euros. Stipends may be subject to a withholding tax.

There is no age limit for applicants. 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 monthly meetings to discuss thematic and methodological aspects of the project.

The selected collective is invited to organise a public presentation in late 2020 or early 2021, 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, 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 Niquille, Paolo Patelli, Sascha Pohflepp, 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 the Research Department:

Delany Boutkan, Marten Kuijpers (Landscape and Interior), Ludo Groen (Landscape and Interior), Anastasia Kubrak (Things and Materials), Klaas Kuitenbrouwer (Digital Culture), Setareh Noorani, Katía Truijen (Digital Culture). More information about the pre-selection team can be found here.

An international jury will select the two collectives. Jury members include Susana Caló and Godofredo Pereira (research collective whose work focuses on ecology, institutional analysis and social movements), Jeanne Van Heeswijk (artist), Jaromil (software artisan, digital social innovation expert, co-founder of, Malique Mohamud (former fellow and current advisor at Het Nieuwe Instituut, designer, Hiphop Futurist and founding member of Concrete Blossom), The Nest Collective (multidisciplinary arts collective creating applied-research methodologies in film, fashion, literature and other media), Marina Otero Verzier (Director of Research, Het Nieuwe Instituut), Elizabeth A. Povinelli (Franz Boas Professor Anthropology and Gender Studies, Columbia University / Founding Member of Karrabing Film Collective) and Cassie Thornton (artist and feminist economist, founder Feminist Economics Department). The jury meeting will be chaired by Guus Beumer (General and Artistic Director, Het Nieuwe Instituut). 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

Update: The application deadline for the Call for Fellows has been extended to Monday 27 July 2020 midnight.

Applications may be submitted from 16 June to 24 July 2020.

Send application to: Your application should include:

  • A link to a video file including a self-introduction and an introduction of the project (maximum 3 minutes)
  • Graphic material such as drawings, images or digital engagements (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: COLLECTIVENAME_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

FAQs about the 2020-2021 open call application will be published on this page.

In-depth reports on the results of the previous open calls: 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019.
Call for fellows application reports: 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019.