- A new research approach to detect the creative potentials of Rotterdam    click here to open paper content461 kb
by    van Teeffelen, Jan | j.vanteeffelen@dsv.rotterdam.nl   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
Subtitle: mapping as a contribution to a changing planning profession and a tool for policy development.
No longer the functional survey method can help us to understand the dynamics of the city. We need a different approach to understand how people use the city and give meaning to public places.
Rotterdam is well known across the world because of its harbour. Until recently it has been the world’s number one port and it still is the main gateway to Europe. The city developed on the fast growing, large-scale harbour- and industrial complex, which provided a lot of jobs until the 1970’s. Once the main employer for blue-collar work, the harbour became a logistic, labour extensive hub for containers, oil and raw materials. The city nowadays has to adapt itself to the standards and demands of new economies. Unemployment, low education levels, lack of specific and attractive living areas for the mid- and higher segment of society are the threats to deal with.

The creative people and their businesses provide new chances for the development of the city. Though the city already proves to be outstanding within the architectural and design cluster driven by names as Rem Koolhaas, the basis still is too small. These knowledge and talent based activities need specific places and spatial conditions to flourish. It’s a world of crossovers, of exchanging new ideas, innovations and experiments. The city is an essential habitat for these kind of activities. From there they can develop to transactions and new economic assets. But how can we better look at the city as a dynamic system of people and places rather than seeing the city as a concept and object of (top down) planning?

For this change in attitude and planning Rotterdam has developed a new type of research called “Sense of Place”. It offers a new scope on the city. It reveals the dynamics and forces behind developments and the way people and businesses use the city. The method “Sense of Place” also gives specific meaning to places and public domain. By doing so the city can be analysed in different ways than we used to: the old methods of functional planning supported by surveys on separated themes such as housing, working, recreation, traffic. Maps are used as a new instrument for communication. Rotterdam is now working on a broadening and more in depth approach of the “Sense of Place” method. By doing so Rotterdam tries to improve the city policy and make it more accurate, especially on the subject of creative industries in Rotterdam.

In the final paper and during the congress we will show the latest results. And discuss the question how this approach has impact on city policy and projects.

28 april 2005
Jan van Teeffelen (senior planning officer); City of Rotterdam, dS+V, Department of Urban Planning, Housing and Traffic
research, maps, bottum up planning,sense of place
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