Strandeiland is the newest artificial island in the IJburg archipelago in the IJmeer, on the east side of Amsterdam. The island is currently being constructed. With 8,000 homes, Strandeiland is one of the largest future urban districts in Amsterdam. Construction of the first homes on the southern part of Strandeiland (the Muiderbuurt) is expected to start in 2023.
Involving citizens in urban development processes
How can citizens gain more control and ownership in the development of urban areas? To make the process of shaping the development plans of Strandeiland more democratic, the DemoS project was launched in October 2018. DemoS – democratic Beach Island – is part of the Participation Plan for this area and has been running for two years.
The participation team consists of civil servants, residents and a researcher from TU Delft/AMS Institute. Together they explore – using the Living Lab method – how the development process could be organized in a way that gives (future) residents control and ownership in the development of their living environment.
Ultimately, the aim of the participation team is to form an inclusive community of future Strandeilanders.
“Experimenting with new forms of organization in urban development requires powerful local networks.”
Increasing sustainability at various levels
The focus of the DemoS project is twofold. On the one hand, the Beach Island DemoS project aims to develop new forms of organization in urban development to increase citizen involvement and ownership. These new forms are developed by experimenting.
On the other hand, the project looks at how sustainable and circular innovations can be applied in the development of the island. Therefore, the participation team will contribute to the planning around the themes of sustainability, inclusiveness, and social cohesion using experimental forms of participation and new democratic models.
By involving future residents in the development process, the team wants to enthuse them about the development of the new Strandeiland. It is the first time that this form of organization is applied to a project in the city of Amsterdam.
So far and where to go from here?
Several lessons can be drawn from the project. For instance, the demand for citizen inclusiveness was confirmed and will be continued within the development of the project. However, there is still progress to be made to truly involve everyone (from young to old) in policy processes.
In addition, the processes in which citizens have a say should be carefully considered. For example, care must be taken to ensure that citizens are not unnecessarily burdened by technical matters in which their knowledge and expertise play a lesser role. It is all about finding the balance.
Finally, a system will be introduced that assigns values other than purely financial values to Beach Island. This is to ensure inclusiveness and the participation process.
A Parliament of Place by MSc MADE
Not only did the DemoS participation team consist of civil servants, residents and a researcher: in October 2019 our MSc MADE students joined the team. During the living lab course in the second year of the master program, AMS Institute links the MADE students to their network of partners and existing Living Labs in the city of Amsterdam. In short, the goal of the living lab is to arrive at integrated solutions collaboratively.
The MSc MADE students played a significant role in the development of the project. They conducted interviews with citizens to identify the needs related to the development of IJburg. Also, they have given a practical addition by creating a public arena in which citizens can talk to each other about possible proposals and where they can also make decisions. The students set up this so-called Parliament of Place for both adults and children, which is still in use.
From student to entrepreneur
The MSc MADE students who participated in the Strandeiland DemoS project now put their gained skills and expertise into practice. Having participated in the AMS Startup Booster, they recently started their own company called 'Container Collectief'. Container Collectief is a consultancy for local sustainability challenges.
“As Container Collectief we want to contribute to the sustainable city of the future. We believe citizens can and should be key in sustainability transitions.”
Together with residents, they engage in a design process in which they develop a shared vision for urban areas of the future. This way, Container Collectief builds a bridge between urban innovations and residents. At the same time, they create support for sustainable transitions.
If you want to know more about the development of Strandeiland, please visit the website: www.hallostrandeiland.nl