Four development scenarios on how youth culture could improve the dynamic in the central city of Rotterdam.
The Rotterdam Institute for Art and Culture, dKC, worked on advice for the strong cultural structure for central city. David Dooghe was asked to give input on how the central city can become more culturally attractive for the youth of Rotterdam.
Four development scenarios were made, each starting from a different group of young users of the central city: the youngsters growing up, the students, the starting creative class and the second/third generation allochthonous.
By creating cultural research and development facilities with spaces to interact with the public, by using the public space as podium and by connecting education and business, more possibilities are anticipated for the youngsters to develop and express their own youth culture in the central city, creating a breading ground for new art.
Culture is becoming more and more a part of identity of youngsters; it is a way to express and to identify themselves. Therefore they should always be seen as the ambassadors of their culture.
The advice (only available in Dutch) can be requested by emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org
2oo9, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
In Europe the groups single adults without children and couples without children are the largest groups of private households by household composition and these groups are increasing. Therefore the question; how to create housing that supports their needs is significant.
Looking more specific to the group of young people starting on the real estate market, it is important to understand that for them the identity of the district, the building and the interior is important. Furthermore the private, collective and public space needs to allow opportunities for social interaction with friends, neighbours and people who share interests. Lastly, its importance to create choice, in the type of house, the surrounding amenities and the mobility.
Currently, due to the high prices at the real estate market and the insufficient regulations concerning alternative ways of living, the cities of Flanders are not attractive for a big part of the groups: single adults without children and couples without children. This is a dangerous situation for these cities because the households with children already have the tendency to move out of the city, unless they have a very positive relation with the city.
Youngsters between the age of 15 and 20 are a larger part of the Rotterdam population than they are in any other larger Dutch city. However, youngsters between the age of 20 and 30 are a larger part of the Amsterdam and Utrecht population than they are in Rotterdam. Therefore the Rotterdam municipality, together with housing corporations and developers, are setting up different projects to attract young people to the city.1. Top Students.
Rotterdam universities select their best graduates to participate in a contest organised by the municipality, different housing corporations and developers. The winner of the contest can rent an apartment with a discount for the first 2 years. From the 3 year on, (s)he needs to pay the full rent. These apartments are in iconic buildings in the centre of the city, near amenities and public transport.
The other selected, but not winning students also get an interesting offer from the organisation.
2. Starters on the real estate market.
Some years ago, a Rotterdam housing corporation started with a new format to attract starters to live in the inner city of Rotterdam near amenities and public transport.
The principle of the format is that the corporation sells their former rental houses at a price between 80 000 and 120 000 euros, they keep taking care of the external facades, roof and collective spaces, they offer a cheaper insurance for the house and guarantee they will buy the house if the starter would like to sell it again.
If the starter sells the house after 1 year then 50 percent of the added value is for the starter. Every year he stays longer, 10 percent is added until after 6 years, the whole added value is for the starter.
One eighth of the former property of the corporation is sold using this format. With the money received from selling these houses (approximately 50 000 euro a house), the housing corporation reinvests in their property.
3. Young Couples
Succeeding a popular TV Show ‘The Block’ in which several young couples are renovating an apartment in a building block, the Rotterdam municipality together with housing corporation, offered cheap houses in more deprived areas of Rotterdam to be renovated by private initiative. Young individuals or couples have to register at an office who first checks if they meet the requirements and during the renovation process coaches them. After one year the house has to suffice minimal renovation requirements and the new owners have to live there at least 3 years before they can sell the house.
These initiatives are successful and support the strategy to attract young people to live in Rotterdam. However, at the moment these initiatives are still separately organised, isn’t there more to gain with a long-term strategy (supply, financing and regulation)?
The stencil graffiti is perfectly positioned in its surrounding:
- Venus is in the middle of the canvas and the stencel graffiti is place perfectly in the middle of the concrete column, at eyesight when you walk by.
- Notice that the stencil graffiti is mirrored for a specific reason. Moustly, there is wind blowing down the stairs (mainly diagonal lines) and the tunnel (mainly vertical lines) is ready to embrace her.
Train station, Aalter, Belgium 2o11, artist: unkown
The last couple of years Rotterdam invested in the public space of its inner city, with the goal to create a ‘City lounge’, a space where people meet, stay, repose.
“Youngsters are the main users of Rotterdam inner city’s streets to meet and stay”, stated David, “Being the city with growing percentage of youngsters, this could have a good effect on the goal of Rotterdam, to create a city lounge in the inner city.”
But while Rotterdam invests to create a public space to meet, the use of the public space is more and more regulated. In some places meetings of a group larger than three persons in the public space is prohibited. The security concerning festivals gets stronger regulated, making festivals impossible to happen.
In the debate quickly the Friday evening ‘problem’ on the Lijnbaan, the main shopping street of Rotterdam and the place and time were youngsters meet, became the main case. The presence of the youngsters creates fear, a passive aggressive atmosphere like somebody in the public stated, among the other users of the shopping street.
“Isn’t this fear more of a generation conflict than a real threat?” David asked the other participants and public, “Knowing that ‘staging’, defining your personality by ‘taking the stage” at every possible moment, is an important part of the youth culture. They aren’t really threatening the others, but they will make sure the others have seen them. What better place in Rotterdam than the Lijnbaan to do this?”
For the politician present, the world works in a way that once something is a problem, it stays a problem. Therefor the rest of the debate got lost in convincing the others of the urge of the problem.
A pity, an out of the box brainstorm with all these interesting participants of the debate could have created new insights.
In this advice the four tasks for the future are: consolidate, concentrate, present and generate.
Some of these tasks are specifically concerning youngsters. Rotterdam should consolidate the starting creative class by creating a policy for breading grounds and creative working places. Rotterdam should generate more by investing in talent development of youngsters. In the new culture plan talent development should be more stimulated. Rotterdam should also attract more students in the city centre, by keeping the higher (cultural) education in the city centre and by creating student housing.
The definition of youngsters in the advice is very general and therefore the specific projects concerning youngsters do not show any big surprises or innovation.
The advice gives a good survey of long term investments in cultural infrastructure that have to be done. What is missed is a good survey of strict regulations that now make cultural expressions in the public space difficult. These regulations bring a lot of initiatives of youngsters to a halt today.
After the presentation of the analysis there was a panel discussion with Corry Prinsen (O.T.Theater), Siebe Thissen (CBK Rotterdam) and Marianne van de Velde (jong RRKC). They recognized the conclusions of the research. They were also happy with the practical recommendations on how to reach youngsters. It is a combination of offer, organisation of the offer and communication. Siebe Thissen had a critical note about the recommendations: ‘The city should not pamper the youngster too much either, you working hard is part of the development process.’ A girl responded that she is willing to work hard to develop her talent, but now she has to put all her energy in arranging possibilities to develop her talent and therefore not focussed on what she should be doing to become a talented dancer.