Co-Creating a prototype for multimedia storytelling in a former industrial site in Utrecht!

The 7th June saw the first session of a Co-Create workshop aiming at developing a concept and a prototype for an interactive tour to support the transformation of the former industrial Werkspoor area in Utrecht. The session counted on the participation of both creative professionals (artists and designers) and a group of key stakeholders/experts who can provide information and give feedback on the prototype – a very diverse group including community members and representatives of the city. Co-Creation session was hosted by Gabrielle Muris (Urban Impact) and Bianca Ernst (Hof van Cartesius, a circular building which houses a cooperation of creative entrepreneurs). A second session will be held on the 19th June.

Werkspoorkwartier is a formal inner city industrial site in Utrecht. After the bankruptcy of the Werkspoor factory in the seventies of the last century, the area changed to a lighter industrial zone with a lot of commercial functions and a lot of the industrial heritage was demolished. After 2000 the area faced decline of activities and became an unattractive and unsafe environment. In 2012 the municipality of Utrecht formulated a new vision for the area which focused on the regeneration of the area as a mixed zone for small SMEs and the creative industries. Because of the crisis at that time the municipality had no means to implement the vision and only could support bottom up initiatives. In 2014 a local private developer bought one of the remaining halls from the Werkspoor factory and transformed it into a location with working units for the creative industry and a huge events space which is named the Werkspoorkathedraal. Since the restoration in 2016 the transformation of the area is gaining momentum.

New collectives of creative entrepreneurs are touching base in the area and formerly closed spaces are now open for the public. As there is no central steering on the redevelopment of the area, because of fragmented property relations and the absence of a guiding role by the municipality, soft interventions are needed to support the transformation strategy. One example of a soft intervention is the cooperation between the Werkspoorkathedraal, the creative cooperation Hof van Cartesius and companies and knowledge institutions on the topic of circular development and place-making in the area.

In terms of place-making it is needed to follow an inclusive strategy which opens the area to the public and the surrounding neighborhoods, on the one hand, and which strengthens the relations within the area, on the other hand. Creative entrepreneurs in the area as well as members of the surrounding community expect that visualizing the past and the future by storytelling and multimedia production might support the transformation process. This Co-Create workshop aims to collect the ideas and to find an appropriate way to tell and distribute the stories to attract visitors and new entrepreneurs to the area. The sessions must lead to a concept and a prototype of a multimedia product which is feasible in terms of funding and realization.

The first day of the workshop, after a participants’ introduction, was devoted to collecting inputs from experts and community members, understanding the goals of the product, sketching, deciding and generating some inputs for storyboard.

This training is part of the Erasmus + project / key action 2 − “CO.CREATE − CO.Design education and training for creative professionals”.

A workshop on Social Design was already held in Ljubljana (Academy of Fine Arts and Design, ALUO, University of Ljubljana), and more workshops are coming in June and July, working on separate design field challenges: on Co-design of the Territorial Design Ecosystem (hosted by Deusto University, Spain); on Service Design (CIKE, Slovakia), and on Inclusive Design (CREARE, Austria).

In this series of national workshops, trainers are asked to implement, use, test and evaluate in their own environment what they gained and learned at the “Train the Trainer” workshop held in Linz, Austria, on the 12-14 February 2018.

Photos credit: Gabrielle Muris and Bianca Ernst.