“The Werken in Wijken initiative has unleashed a special kind of energy in Rotterdam.”
STIPO advises the Municipality of Rotterdam in creating and maintaining affordable workspaces in the city. As a result of the increased popularity of Rotterdam as a business location, affordable work and retail space has become scarcer in recent years for Rotterdam’s SME sector. This is becoming increasingly apparent in several areas of Rotterdam, and something needs to be done about it. The city of Rotterdam has taken the initiative to draw up a ‘Werken in Wijken’ (Working in Districts) action plan and has asked STIPO to set up a procedure for this purpose.
Citymakers, entrepreneurs, civil servants and property owners entered into a dialogue with each other during many sessions in the autumn of 2019 and spring of 2020. These sessions looked at which parties play a role in this process and how they can work together. They also analysed which instruments can be used and which knowledge and insights are relevant to develop an effective approach for the preservation and creation of (more) affordable work and retail space.
Experimental areas for affordable workspaces
Subsequently, nine comprehensive sessions, a working visit to The Hague and various one-on-one discussions were held. Many Rotterdam parties participated, including SME entrepreneurs, private owners, developers, citymakers, managers of business centres, housing associations and the municipality. Various research reports and policy documents were also studied to see if they were relevant given the framework of the assignment. All of this generated important insights into everyone’s perspectives and interests, and how they subsequently view the task of creating suitable and affordable office and retail spaces for SMEs.
The analysis provided the basis for the selection of three experimental areas, and various instruments will be used to look at how we can create more affordable workspaces and how we can retain the suitable space that’s already there. These areas were selected because they differ in terms of the task, instruments and parties involved.