Exploration by Rotterdam University and University of Amsterdam
The future of inner cities in the Netherlands is in the spotlight. The Ministry of Economic Affairs recently announced an investment of €100 million to promote vital inner cities and future-proof shopping areas. Transformations are necessary and inevitable, in view of the changes in the role of retail and culture in urban areas, but also due to the evolution towards places to be. In this, the quality and value of stay, perception and experience provided by different inner-city sectors and actors plays a crucial role.
This challenge has inspired the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences and Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences to conduct an exploratory study on the added value of retail and culture collaboration for the quality of urban areas and for each other. Various stakeholders from both sectors, including Platform De Nieuwe Winkelstraat and Cultuurconnectie, are participating in this year-long exploration. One of the intended outcomes of the exploration is the design of a long-term project combining research, development and implementation.
Promise of cooperation
The promise of collaboration between culture and retail for urban cores is still relatively unexplored. Whether it brings utility to cities depends on the quality and value that different businesses, organisations and groups of citizens can add. This is true regardless of their origins in retail or culture, or in another domain such as hospitality. The project Designing the place to be together addresses questions such as: How can culture and retail help address urban challenges? Who are the main stakeholders and what are their aims? What are the suitable cooperation models and opportunities? What is the value they can and want to add? In what way can both sectors reap benefits from cooperation?
Several themes on which retail and culture can strengthen each other and urban cores are addressed in the project. For instance, the contribution of retail and culture to the inclusiveness of the city and to the quality of public spaces is important. Also relevant is how both sectors can jointly strengthen social interaction and inner-city identity, and in what way digitalisation affects this. In addition, how the range of products and services available in the city can be converted into economic value is important. The desired role of local authorities, financiers and property owners and managers is also an important topic. Several service design agencies and city makers, together with researchers from the colleges, are looking into designing ways to shape stakeholder cooperation.