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CREATING URBAN IDENTITY A Guide to a Visual Platform Enabling Citizen Participation in Urban Development

KIRA VAN DEN ENDE Bachelor project | KEA 2014


To Nele Van den Ende, Helene Lejeune, Koen Hendrix, AndrĂŠs Jara, Jaime Ortiz, Amanda Adams, Gido Van den Ende, Elke Van den Ende, Eric Corijn, Floris De Smet, Jan Vanderhoeven, Niels Coppens, Burak Pak, Camilla Errendal and Danielle Bodart: Thank you. Cover photo credit: Elke Van den Ende.


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

KEA DESIGN & BUSINESS | SUSTAINABLE COMMUNICATION | BACHELOR EXAM PRJOECT 2014 KIRA VAN DEN ENDE


The city of Brussels, 2013. 19 municipalities, 118 neighborhoods. Capital of Belgium, but more prominently known as capital of Europe. Magnet of immigration, an immigration so dual that is rapidly dividing the city in those that are expats and those that are immigrants. Expats come to work in the city’s international institutions and multinational corporations. Immigrants come to work too, but soon find themselves undereducated and unemployed. The lives of the expats and immigrants hardly intertwine, as over time they have inhabited different parts of the city, and thereby geographically divided it in areas of privilege and impoverishment.

through collaboration between residents and artists, to ensure the visual result resonates with the community. The project doesn’t end with projecting the result on the afore mentioned wall. It continues by urging the residents to give their feedback en mass. The result is readjusted based on that extensive feedback. The desired end result would be something the majority of the residents agree on, something allowing the municipality’s administration to plan the neighborhood’s development such that it integrates the residents’ needs and alleviates the social dislocation.

The less privileged areas located close to Brussels’ Canal Zone are at a risk of gentrification. The economic heart of the city is expanding itself to this zone, causing profound changes in its composition. More economic activity, more cultural activity, more luxurious building projects, more middle and upper class people will be settling there. The risk the city runs with the area becoming more attractive is a steep increase in rental, causing the people the current inhabitants to move elsewhere. In this scenario, the area would flourish, but the issues of unemployment and lack of academic education amongst its current residents would not be solved, they would simply move to different neighborhoods.

That is what this project boils down to: the creation of a visual platform that enables citizen participation in urban development planning.

The alternative scenario proposed in this bachelor project report is that the current residents become involved in the area’s changes, so that they can take part in its economic uplift. This scenario has been worked out with a focus on the neighborhood of West Station, a neighborhood located in between the Canal Zone and West Station, one of Brussels’ four large transportation junctions.

This platform is meant to function as a mediator between residents and administration. In order for it to be feasible, a minimum of willingness to participate from the residents and preparedness to listen from the administration is required. It requires, in other words, a more active interpretation of democracy. This may make the idea of the project seem rather idealistic, but the reality is that the social issues in the area are too deeply rooted to let its further development be arbitrary, or be planned without careful consideration of the residents’ needs. The neighborhood of West Station and many neighborhoods in Brussels alike are standing on the brink of change; now is an excellent time to grasp that changing environment and turn it into an opportunity for sustainable growth.

Imagine. A very long wall on which digital images of the ideal future identity of the neighborhood are projected. This ideal future identity has been constructed through collaboration between the residents and urban development experts. The visualization of this identity has been executed

CREATING URBAN IDENTITY: A GUIDE TO A VISUAL PLATFORM ENABLING CITIZEN PARTICIPATION IN URBAN DEVELOPMENT


KEA DESIGN & BUSINESS | SUSTAINABLE COMMUNICATION | BACHELOR EXAM PRJOECT 2014 KIRA VAN DEN ENDE


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TABLE OF CONTENTS INTRODUCTION ORIGIN OF THE IDEA

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FOCUS

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WHAT TO EXPECT

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WHAT NOT TO EXPECT

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CHAPTER 1: A DEFINITION OF URBAN IDENTITY CHAPTER 2: THE EFFECTS OF COMMUNICATING URBAN IDENTITY INTERIM CONCLUSION

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CHAPTER 3: DEFINING THE COMMUNICATIVE CONTENT

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THE WEST STATION NEIGHBORHOOD IN ITS SOCIAL AND HISTORICAL CONTEXT 16

HISTORIC OVERVIEW OF EXTERNAL INFLUENCES ON WEST STATION 16 WEST STATION NOW: INFRASTRUCTURE AND SOCIETY 16

WEST STATION IN THE NEAR FUTURE: MOVING TOWARDS GENTRIFICATION 17

ANALYSIS OF RESIDENTS’ PERCEPTION AND WISHES 18

OBJECTIVE 18 PARTICIPANTS 18 METHOD  19 RESULTS 19

DISCUSSION

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THE DESIRED FUTURE IDENTITY  22 CHAPTER 4: VISUALIZING THE IDENTITY 24

OBJECTIVE 25

ORGANIZER/SENDER

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SUCCESS CRITERIA

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PARTICIPANTS

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THE WORKSHOP

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GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR THE WORKSHOP 28

ANALYSIS AND VISUALIZATION 29

FEEDBACK

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CONCLUSION DISCUSSION BIBLIOGRAPHY

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BOOKS

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PRINT JOURNAL ARTICLES

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PUBLICATIONS AVAILABLE ON WEBSITES 41

DATA SOURCES

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APPENDIX I: PHOTO MATERIAL WORKSHOP EXERCISE ONE  44 APPENDIX II: SUCCES CRITERIA  49 APPENDIX III: PRACTICAL IMPLEMENTATION OF THE FEEDBACK QUESTIONNAIRE 51 CREATING URBAN IDENTITY: A GUIDE TO A VISUAL PLATFORM ENABLING CITIZEN PARTICIPATION IN URBAN DEVELOPMENT


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INTRODUCTION CREATING URBAN IDENTITY: A GUIDE TO A VISUAL PLATFORM ENABLING CITIZEN PARTICIPATION IN URBAN DEVELOPMENT


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INTRODUCTION ORIGIN OF THE IDEA

The grand start of this project was a deep-seated curiosity for the city I grew up in: Brussels. While travelling, talking to tourists visiting the city or even while talking to Belgian people that live outside the capital, I have always sensed a difficulty to explain ‘Brussels’. My Parisian and New Yorker friends never seem to encounter this issue; when they announce their home city, their interlocutors always seem to have an idea ready about what these cities are like, even if they have never been there. Granted, Paris and New York are significantly bigger than Brussels, but Brussels is home to the NATO head quarter and most important European Union institutions, making it a city of considerable international importance. Why is it then that people have such an unclear image of what Brussels is like? Why is that I myself, having lived in close interaction with the city for so many years, struggle to answer questions about the city’s nature? These questions were the start of a quest to discover the identity of Brussels. This report won’t deliver a clear-cut definition of the identity of Brussels, nor an answer to the question of whether there is such a thing as one identity of Brussels. It is, however, a very interesting step in that direction. When I started looking for cohesion within my city, my eye fell on an unused piece of land within its borders. Situated in a municipality called Molenbeek, the land is one kilometer long and about 150 meters wide, entirely inaccessible for the public. From my own experience and from my direct social environment I knew that it is a place that is avoided whenever possible, with a reputation of being scrubby and unsafe. Amongst local politician lives a dream of turning this land into a park, but there is an issue: a railway runs straight through the length of it.

Building a bridge or a tunnel to redirect this railway, and make the land safe for public use, would be unreasonably expensive. Contemplating ideas about how to deal with this railway, I thought of a solution that could be installed quickly and relatively cheap: a soundproof wall running along distance of the entire railway. This makes the largest piece of land (80m x 1km) accessible for public use, and it creates a double-sided canvas of one kilometer long times and four meters high times in the midst of the city, which can be used to visually and artistically express the identity of Brussels. This hypothetical wall, this urban canvas, is the concrete start of this project. A wall this size offers a unique opportunity for large scale urban communication. It also comes with great responsibility to use this visual space well, because merely building a wall with no further contextual explanation might send signs of forced boundaries and separation. Whichever images are shown on that wall will send messages to the people either using the park or taking the train. The first draft of this projects’ problem statement thus became: how to optimally use the wall to create and communicate the identity of Brussels. While the researched progressed this statement was narrowed down various times.

FOCUS

Once the project idea was set, the next step was to define a problem statement which would deliver a precise, workable focus. Therefore several design boundaries where put in place. The first of these boundaries was to drop the idea of researching the identity of the entire city of Brussels. As the wall would be one kilometer long, it would be spatially possible to express the identities of the different neighborhoods of Brussels separately, and let the whole of them combine to the identity of Brussels. Following

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this trail of thought made methodological sense: it is more feasible to research the identity of separate neighborhoods and to combine the results of that research to a larger whole, than to try to grasp the entire city all at once. The wall would be located in a neighborhood known as West Station, after the large public transport stop that borders it. To keep this report feasible within its given time frame, the focus will move from the entire Capital Region of Brussels to the West Station neighborhood. Another physical aspect of the wall is that it would consist of two sides. One side would be visible for train passengers, the other side for the West Station residents. Both sides would make interesting platforms for communication, but to enable the necessary in-depth research within the given time constraints, I chose to focus on the side of the wall visible for the residents. Hence, the target group for this project are West Station residents and frequent visitors. As mentioned above, communicating an image on such a large scale comes with a certain responsibility to use that visual space well. Hence, this project aims to contribute positively to the social cohesion in the area, over and above offering an aesthetic experience. This determines that the design should also create a way to deliver optimal social meaning to the end result. ‘Optimal social meaning’ implies undeniably that the result of this project has to resonate with the local community. This cannot be achieved without the involvement of the people of West Station, and so, the last design boundary I imposed is that this project has to be executed through co-creation with the community. The second version of the problem statement thus became: How to create and visually communicate the identity of West Station, neighborhood of Molenbeek, municipality of Brussels, capital of Belgium, in such a way that it resonates with the residents and serves a clear purpose of social sustainability.

Fig 1: Capital Region of Brussels divided in its 118 neighborhoods. West Station area marked red.

Fig 2: Street view of the unused land with the train track inside.

WHAT TO EXPECT

Determining this projects’ focus clarified that this report should deliver not only a visual product, but also a method to make such a visual product socially relevant. Hence, the first two chapters of this report consist of research into the definition of urban identity, and what communicating urban identities can signify. This research is followed by a discussion to determine the exact social purpose. Additionally, the problem statement is sharpened and the methodology for the further research in chapters three and four is defined and explained.

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The first chapter details the composition of a definition of urban identity. The purpose of this definition is to clarify the theory behind the concept, and to ensure familiarity with the proposed theoretical framework. The definition is built on a number of striking definitions of personal identity, and of the identity of places. The second chapter then explores the effect of the communication of urban identity through two case studies, one in the eighties in New York and one currently on-going in Amsterdam. The interim conclusion then details the methodology behind the third and fourth chapter. Chapter 3 follows up with research into the precise content of what is to be communicated on the wall in West Station. This chapter was worked out with the collaboration of Eric Corijn, professor of Sociology at the Free University of Brussels (VUB) and one of the leaders of Brussels Academy, an institute that studies the urban development of the city of Brussels. Chapter four is a concrete proposal of how the content can be communicated and how the community can be involved in the communication. Burak Pak, teacher at the SintLucas School of Architecture and an expert in large scale people involvement in urban development projects, helped work out the content of this chapter. Nele Van den Ende, cognitive psychologist and human-technology interaction engineer, assisted with the determination of the practical details. After chapter four follows a conclusion which lays out the answer to the problem statement and a discussion that puts the effectiveness and generalizability of the proposed framework and method into perspective.

WHAT NOT TO EXPECT

The idea originated from building a wall alongside a train track to use the space to the side of it as a park. It is crucial to remember, however, that this is not an architectural project. This project concentrates only on the images that can be displayed on the wall. It is, in essence, a project about visual communication. What the technical details of the wall should be or what rest of the park is to look like is not the subject of this report. Next, it is important to remember that even though this project was inspired by a quest for the discovery of the identity of Brussels, this report will pay attention solely to the identity of the neighborhood of West Station. This can be considered a start of the bigger research on the identity of the city. Lastly, Brussels is a politically complicated spot. Questions on the bureaucratic and financial possibilities of the project are not a part of this report. Naturally, these questions would be unavoidable when putting the project into practice. Should a political or financial support base to execute the project become available, more research into these matters will be necessary.

The end result of this report will be a communications strategy. The strategy entails a method to create and communicate urban identity, developed for the specific case of the wall in West Station. A test run of this strategy and a visual product based on that test run will be part of the oral presentation in January 2014. KEA DESIGN & BUSINESS | SUSTAINABLE COMMUNICATION | BACHELOR EXAM PRJOECT 2014 KIRA VAN DEN ENDE


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URBAN IDENTITY: A DEFINITION CREATING URBAN IDENTITY: A GUIDE TO A VISUAL PLATFORM ENABLING CITIZEN PARTICIPATION IN URBAN DEVELOPMENT


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CHAPTER 1: A DEFINITION OF URBAN IDENTITY The aim of this chapter is to create an operational definition of urban identity, which will allow determining a method of how to establish the identity of the nieghborhood West Station. To create the operational definition first the concept of identity without further adjectives was investigated. The simplest definition of identity can be found in the Merriam Webster encyclopedia: identity is who someone is. Of course being someone cannot be isolated from someone’s surrounding environment. In the words of Wagner: ‘Place, person, time and act form an indivisible unity. To be oneself one has to be somewhere definite, do certain things at appropriate times.’ (Relph, 1976, p.44) Identity is thus inevitably linked to the ensemble of these four factors – place, person, time and act – and is therefore subject to change. It is the result of an interaction between the individual person or object and the culture to which they belong (Relph, 1976). This implies that someone’s or something’s identity cannot be grasped without comprehension of its culture. Culture in this context can be understood as the totality of a group’s thoughts, experiences and patterns of behavior and its concepts, values, and assumptions about life that guide behavior and how these are transmitted over the course of generations (Jandt, 2010). Aditionally, a person doesn’t necessarily identify with one group. Everyone can have multiple group identities (Jandt, 2010) and so a correct analysis of an identity depends not only on the comprehension of its culture, but also on the identification of the concerned group cultures. Vice versa it can be remarked that identity is influenced by culture, but that culture is the totality of a group, and so that all the individual identities within this group also influence the culture.

The operational definition so far draws on the conclusion that identity is indeed the essence of who someone is, and that in order to investigate this, one has to bear in mind the parameters of place, time, act and interplay with culture(s). Identity is not an immutable thing; it is constantly being influenced by its surroundings and in return influences them. How can this be applied to the identity of a city, or a neighborhood of a city? Edward Relph writes on the identity of places: Identity is in the experience, eye, mind, and intention of the beholder as much as in the physical appearance of the city or landscape. But while every individual may assign self-consciously or unselfconsciously an identity to particular places, these identities are nevertheless combined intersubjectively to form a common identity. (1976) Going forward, urban identity can thus be interpreted as the combined identity that all concerned attribute to the city or neighborhood. The identity of a city bears on the identity of its citizens (Verhaar, 2012), it is a shared perception that is associated with the place’s physical appearance. This seems, however, incomplete. The identity someone links to a city or neighborhood does not relate solely to its physical appearance, but also to how this appearance is given social meaning (Vance, 2012). This meaning is not something a city decides for itself, it is the result of its interaction with the world. Markus Schaefer comments: The rise and fall of ancient urban cultures shows particularly well that cities were never clearly delimited systems. Cities are places of exchange and accumulation of resources, and for that reason they are always exchanging with their broader surroundings.(Eisinger and Seifer, 2012, p.84)

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Just as the identity of a person depends on interaction with this person’s cultural groups, the identity of an urban place depends not only on its infrastructure and inhabitants, but also on their interaction with their environment. Historically, this environment has most importantly been the country to which the city belongs. Nowadays, a city is still politically and juridical dependent on its country, but in recent history the international network of cities has become equally influential in determining a city’s function. In particular mobility and flows of migration between cities have become very prominent in defining cities’ characteristics (Corijn and Vloerbergs, 2009). When investigating a particular neighborhood, the city itself becomes part of the influencing surroundings, and mobility and migration flows within the city itself have to be taken into account as well. In conclusion, the operational definition for urban identity is much like personal identity, as it also depends on an interaction between the individual being and its surroundings. Unlike personal identity, urban identity depends on the experience and interpretation of many. A city is made up of several cultural groups, hence, urban identity is internally influenced by its cultural groups. The external influences of an urban identity are the greater region of the city, then to some extend the political and juridical influences of the nation, and to a larger extend the worldwide network of cities. Henceforth, the operational definition of urban identity will be: a shared perception of all involved on the physical appearance and social meaning of the urban place.

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COMMUNICATING URBAN IDENTITY CREATING URBAN IDENTITY: A GUIDE TO A VISUAL PLATFORM ENABLING CITIZEN PARTICIPATION IN URBAN DEVELOPMENT


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CHAPTER 2: THE EFFECTS OF COMMUNICATING URBAN IDENTITY Urban identity can be communicated internally and externally. Internal communication concerns the people, organizations and businesses that are settled within or very close to the city, and use the city on a daily basis (Brattetteig and Wagner, 2012). External communication concers all the people, organizations and businesses that are not located in or close to the city, but that potentially have interests there (Zukin, 1995 and Sircus, 2001). Since this project does not investigate the side of the wall facing the train passengers, only the effect of internal communication will be discussed here. The importance of internal communication of urban identity can be illustrated by the case of why crime rates in the New York City subway dropped by 75% in the early nineties, as explained by Gladwell (2000). The NYC subway was a means of transportation for millions in the eighties already, making it an important part of the cities visual identity. In the mid-eighties, a new manager called David Gunn was placed in charge over a multibillion-dollar investment in the renewal of the subway infrastructure. Gunn decided to put in practice something called the ‘broken window’ theory. This theory says that when people pass by a broken window, they assume that in the neighborhood of that broken window, no one is in charge, and no one cares. Unconsciously, this promotes an image of anarchy, evoking carelessness and more broken windows. Bearing this in mind, Gunn insisted that all graffiti was kept off of all subway stations and carriages at all times. He correctly judged that the graffiti was the symbolic representation of the broken window. At the start of the operation, carriages and stations had to be cleaned multiple times a day. But gradually, there was a decline in new graffiti being sprayed on. With that decline came the impressive drop in crime rates.

The operational definition states that urban identity is a shared perception. The ‘broken window’ theory illustrates that this perception causes people to experience certain prejudices about the locations, and to behave in a certain way, as is also argued for by Vance (2012). It illustrates that is not always smart to communicate the city’s identity as it is already being perceived. Sometimes it is useful to persistently show a desired identity, until eventually this desired identity becomes imbedded in the shared perception.

INTERIM CONCLUSION

Urban identity is a shared perception. This perception can be influenced: when persistently showing a desired identity, the current perceived identity should shift itself towards this altered version, resulting in an altered urban identity. Hence, the goal for this project centers on communicating a desired future identity for West Station. This orients the focus of the projects towards urban development, making it a matter policy. After all, who is to say what the future identity will be like? Answering this question is what brings about the definite version of this projects’ problem statement. To develop a sustainable future, the needs and wishes of the residents have to be taken in account. Incorporating the residents in the creation of the future urban identity achieves exactly that purpose. The problem statement thus becomes ‘How to co-create and visually communicate the desired identity of the neighborhood of West Station in such a way that residents are enabled to participate in determining the neighborhood’s future development’. The third chapter will focus on the co-creation of the neighborhoods’ desired identity. The approach is determined by the assumption

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that identity is subject to external influences (chapter 1). The first part of chapter three starts therefore with a mapping of the external influences on the neighborhood and how these influences have helped shape the present state of the neighborhood. It also discusses what kind of pressure these influences will exercise in the future. The second part of the chapter is an analysis of how the residents see their neighborhood and its future, based on qualitative interviews. The chapter concludes with a proposal for a desired urban identity, based on the predictions around external influences and the residents’ needs and wishes. In the fourth chapter a method is proposed to represent this desired identity through images, and to measure the success of those images. The method is based on a close collaboration with residents and an alternation between qualitative and quantitative data input, i.e. workshops and questionnaires. It includes the proposal of a Brussels organization through which the project can be practically organized, the determination of success criteria, participant groups, the workshops’ content and the way to construct and distribute the questionnaire. The workshops’ analysis and output, i.e. the visual product that is to be shown on the wall, is out of scope for this report, but will be ready for presentation in January 2014.

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DEFINING THE COMMUNICATIVE CONTENT CREATING URBAN IDENTITY: A GUIDE TO A VISUAL PLATFORM ENABLING CITIZEN PARTICIPATION IN URBAN DEVELOPMENT


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CHAPTER 3: DEFINING THE COMMUNICATIVE CONTENT THE WEST STATION NEIGHBORHOOD IN ITS SOCIAL AND HISTORICAL CONTEXT HISTORIC OVERVIEW OF EXTERNAL INFLUENCES ON WEST STATION To understand what the neighborhood of West Station could look like, it is necessary to understand how external influences have shaped the neighborhood in the past, and how they could influence the nieghborhood’s future. The key players in the development of West Station, part of the municipality of Molenbeek, are the city of Brussels, the country of Belgium, and Brussels’ place in the international network of cities (Corijn and Vloerberghs, 2009). Details on these players’ individual roles in the history of West Station are hard to find, but there is a substantial body literature on the history of Molenbeek as a whole: With the start of industrialization in the 19th century, Brussels began to expand its activities around the canal area. This attracted large amounts of impoverished people from the Belgian country side who came to the city looking for work and a higher standard of living. They settled mostly in the neighborhoods surrounding the canal area. Molenbeek was one of these neighborhoods and rapidly became a go-to place for new comers to the city. This blue collar population was considerably poorer than the upper class who were literally living in the higher parts of town. (Rea, 2013) At the turn of the century, social insurrection and the creation of unions introduced better living condition for the Belgian working class, who soon enough were considered middle class instead. A suburbanization trend manifested itself impressively once the second World War was over. By the 1950s, most Belgian families

had left Molenbeek to buy property in the greener belt encircling Brussels. They were replaced with families from the Mediterranean (mostly Moroccan families chose the Molenbeek municipality) who were dreaming of a similar growth in prosperity. (Vermeulen and Corijn, 2013) However, due to economical difficulties, social inequalities and unfitting policies from the Belgian governments, their era of prosperity never materialized. Many of them were given Belgian nationality, but few managed to fully assimilate with the Belgian welfare state (Rea, 2013). Hence, the group of immigrants that currently make up the population of Molenbeek are considered vulnerable, greatly affected by the job scarcity, housing difficulties, and flows of a deeply non-egalitarian educational system (Billen, 2013). WEST STATION NOW: INFRASTRUCTURE AND SOCIETY The data on West Station show that in 2010, it had the second lowest average income of all 118 neighborhoods of Brussels. In 2007, about 36 percent of newborns were born in families of which both parents were unemployed. When inhabitants were asked what they thought of the tidiness in their neighborhood, West Station ranked itself the third lowest. Another study showed that the distance to a green public area here is the second largest in the whole of Brussels (Wijkmonitoring, 2013). The demographic data for Brussels shows that West Station hosts the highest concentration of North-African immigrants, as well as a portion of immigrants who come from the newest European Union Member States. It is, overall, a very young population. The percentage of people below 29 years old is much higher compared to rest of the city, whereas the population of 45 years and older is respectively much lower. Additionally,

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there is a lack of kindergartens and schools to meet the educational needs of all neighborhood children (Wijkmonitoring, 2013). The infrastructure of the neighborhood reveals that this is a very residential area. Hardly any economic activities are located in the area, though there are some towards the peripheries. However, the West Station neighborhood is very well connected. Every inhabitant has a metro station at walking distance (there are four of them surrounding the area), in addition to many bus and tram stations. This great connectivity and its overall short distance to the city center will have implications for the residents of West Station which will be explored later on in this report (Wijkmonitoring, 2013). WEST STATION IN THE NEAR FUTURE: MOVING TOWARDS GENTRIFICATION Brussels’ economy is growing steadily. The city’s historic center has become too small to host all the economic activity causing enterprises to settle in the Canal Zone (Vermeulen and Corijn, 2013). The neighborhood of West Station is located right in between this Canal Zone and, logically, West Station. In 2009, after 25 years of neglect, the building of West Station and its technical installations were renovated. It is now one of the four largest public transport junctions in Brussels, with a modern and clean look (Technum, 2013). Urban experts in Brussels largely agree that the increasing economic activity in the Canal Zone and the presence of the West Station will soon mean a transformation of the West Station neighborhood (Bru+, 2013). However, nobody is quite certain about where this transformation will lead and what that will mean for the current residents. One scenario that Brussels has seen quite often in the past is that of gentrification. The term gentrification is used when more and more middle and upper class activities are moving into a poor city area and which means that the original inhabitants move away to another area in the city, as their old one is no longer affordable. Gentrification starts

with economic activity moving into the area, attracting customers with more economic power than the local population. The new customers attract more businesses, causing a chain reaction of more middle and upper class visitors dwelling in the area. Eventually these visitors start acquiring property. This is where the gentrification occurs, because as property prices rise, so do rental prices. If most of the original inhabitants were tenants rather than property owners, that means that the area becomes too expensive for them to live in, and they move to different city areas were rental prices are still affordable (Corijn and Vermeulen, 2013 and Vandermotten, 2013). The major problem with gentrification is that even though the neighborhood flourishes, the social issues of the people persist. Unemployment, low levels of education and differences in housing qualities remain. In the area of West Station, were unemployment rate is nearing 45 percent, this is not a desirable scenario. So what is the alternative? This question was discussed in an interview with Eric Corijn , cultural philosopher and urban development expert1. The conclusion of this discussion was that the transformation of the area is a given, whether the residents desire so or not. The choice the residents have is too either shy away from the changes, or to take advantage of them by partaking in the economical and cultural developments. They need not wait for outsiders to come in and open bars, restaurants, and other local businesses; they can do so themselves. The area can then, in a positive light, become a window for Mediterranean and Eastern European culture intertwined in a Western European reality. This scenario, in which both the neighborhood and the original population can benefit from the changes, thereby alleviating unemployment and the social stigma attached to the area, is certainly the most desirable.

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Personal conversation with Eric Corijn, Brussels, 30 October 2013. CREATING URBAN IDENTITY: A GUIDE TO A VISUAL PLATFORM ENABLING CITIZEN PARTICIPATION IN URBAN DEVELOPMENT


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ANALYSIS OF RESIDENTS’ PERCEPTION AND WISHES

The interview with Corijn also discussed how to create a future identity, which would motivate the residents to take part in the area’s transformation. This is necessitates understanding what the people who live there think of their neighborhood, discovering the shared perception they attribute to it nowadays, and catching a sense of the spirit of the place (genius loci, Relph, 1976). To accomplish this, a qualitative analysis was conducted, which is reported below. OBJECTIVE The objective of this section is to determine the current residents’ perception. Additionally, residents wishes for the future of the neighborhood and there are determined. To accomplish this, qualitative interviews were conducted. The first part of the interviews aimed to discover the current shared perceptions of the neighborhood. The second part of the interviews focused on figuring out what the residents expect from their neighborhood in the future; what they would like to preserve and what they would be willing to let go off.

Figure 3: Romanian couple (the man on the left did not participate in the interview).

Figure 4: Father and daughter of the Turkish family.

PARTICIPANTS Originally, the aim was to have six participants for interviews of about half an hour. These six participants would encompass three males, three females, one of each grand generation. However, experienced showed that in West Station one is expected to interview the family, rather than an individual person. Hence, the participants have been: a retired Moroccan couple of about 60 years old, a 17year old Moroccan girl accompanied by her mother, a Turkish family existing of two young parents of about 30 years old, and two children aged between 5 and 10 years old, an Italian woman of about 40 years old, a 20 years old Moroccan guy and a Romanian couple of 35 and 40 years old. Figure 5: Male half of the Moroccan couple.

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METHOD The original plan called for going to the neighborhood and to ring doorbells to find adequate candidates for the interviews in the comfort of their own house. These candidates would then be interviewes, the interviews would be tape-recorded and a picture of all the interviewees would be taken at the end of the interview. This plan had to be adjusted due to cultural disagreements. The question of whether the candidates could be interviewed separately was met with a lot of distrust, so the decision was made to interview the families as a whole. People reacted equally distrusting when asked whether the interview could be recorded, so instead notes were taking throughout the interviews. Taking pictures appeared to be considered anti-religious by some Muslim participants and highly inappropriate by the Italian family. The pictures of those who gave permission can be seen in figure 3, 4 and 5. On a final note, finding a young, male interview candidate proved extremely difficult to find through house visits. A good candidate was looked for on the streets and found in a Laundromat. This 20 year old Moroccan participant was the only one not interviewed inside his own house. RESULTS The first question on the discussion guide was ‘What do you think of the West Station, now that it’s been renovated?’, with the sub questions ‘Do you use it a lot?’, ‘To go where?’ and ‘Do you notice more visitors in the neighborhood than you did before?’. This question was, firstly, a warm-up question, and secondly aimed to find out how participants react to such a large infrastructural change in the neighborhood. Lastly information would be gathered about whether participants leave the neighborhood a lot, and where they go when they do so. The answers were quite unanimous. Participants really liked the new building; they feel very well connected to the rest of the city. They use it

mostly to commute to work and school, but also to go grocery shopping and to ‘just visit the city’ (pour aller en ville). The participants who live within walking distance say they notice more visitors, the others say there is no real difference and that they very rarely see people from outside the neighborhood on the streets. The second question was ‘What do you think of this neighborhood?’, with the sub questions ‘Do you like to live here?’, ‘Do you feel at home?’, ‘Do you like the physical appearance?’ and ‘Do you intend to keep living here?’. This question was a very straightforward way of asking how participants perceive West Station. The answers were, again, surprisingly unanimous. Participants reported they liked the neighborhood, and spontaneously added that it was calm. The Muslim participants all added spontaneously that they like the feeling of community they have with their neighbors. They consider the area a little village inside the city of Brussels. The Romanian couple answered that they find West Station pleasant, but didn’t mention a feeling of community. The Italian woman, on the other hand said she thought too many Muslim and black people had moved to the neighborhood, that she didn’t really feel at home anymore, and that she would consider moving if the opportunity came along. The perception of the physical appearance of the streets was somewhat divided. People agreed that it was not too clean. Many commented that they did not like the publicly shown art works of an artist living in the North of the area. Some, like the Italian woman and the elderly couple, thought the state of the streets were problematic, but the others seemed to believe that it was not that bad, and that elsewhere in Brussels the problem was much more urgent. All but two of the respondents said they would like to keep living in the West Station area. As mentioned before, the Italian woman would not mind moving to a place with a different cultural composition. The young Moroccan man said that he did not mind living the neighborhood for

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now, but that he did not think the place was fit to raise children. The third question was ‘In your opinion, what do your neighbors think of the neighborhood?’ with the same sub questions as the second question. The intention of this question was to find out whether participants thought their opinion was the same as their neighbors’, or whether their own opinion was an exception. Not surprisingly, the Muslim participants did not have to think twice about their answer. They said they knew their neighbors well and felt certain that they would answer more or less the same. They repeated that everybody knows everybody. The Italian woman and the Romanian couple said they did not really know their neighbors and therefore could not really answer this question. The fourth and fifth questions aimed to discover what participants love most about their neighborhood, and what they wouldn’t mind changing. This covered research into what elements of West Station could be changed to ensure that the desired future identity meets the wishes of the residents. The fourth question was ‘If you could change three things in the neighborhood, what would they be?’ with the examples of ‘More/less people in the streets?’ ,’More parks and playground?’, ‘More bars, restaurants or shops’, ‘More care for the tidiness of the streets?’ or ‘Others?’. The following question was ‘Which three things would you never change?’, with the same examples as question four. Apart from the shared opinion that nobody would mind if the streets were tidier, answers varied a lot. About half of the participants said they actually really liked the neighborhood as it was, and that they did not want any parks or playgrounds, because it would mean the end of the calmness. The others said they would appreciate more green space, less cars and less vacant properties. One person said very convinced that what really had to be changed

was the people; that they needed more education and job employment. With regards to not changing things, the answers were culturally divided. The Muslim respondents all said they would never change the strong feeling of community, and the tranquility of the place. They mentioned they really liked the feeling that they were living in a little village in the middle of the city. The Romanian couple and the Italian woman said nothing like that; the only thing they would never change was the connectivity to the rest of the city. The last two questions were aimed at discovering how the inhabitants see the future of the area. The sixth question, ‘How do you think this neighborhood will develop in the future?’, was to see whether participants had given the issue any thought, and if so, how they felt about it. The sub questions were ‘Will new inhabitants join the neighborhood?’, ‘Will there be new enterprises?’ and ‘Will everything stay the same?’. Most participants said they had no idea, and that they had no way of knowing. At this point in the interview, the participants were given a short explanation about the future development of the Canal Zone. They were informed that the future of the Canal Zone and the expansion of the West Station will probably mean a lot of changes for the neighborhood, and that the most likely scenario is that more economic and cultural activities, e.g. more bars, offices, restaurants and shops, will become available. The last question enquiered whether they would like to play a role in the developments of this scenario of growing commercial activity. The sub questions were: ‘Can you imagine yourself starting a business?’, ‘Would you join the neighborhood committee/ the local municipality?’, ‘Would you prefer if everything stayed the same’ and ‘would you prefer to move elsewhere if things change too much?’. The answers were very interesting. Nobody answered that yes, they would consider starting

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a business, but neither were they opposed to the idea of others starting one. Even though a lot of the Muslim families said they liked the calmness and they did not want things to change too much, they said that they would not mind participating in community projects if things were too change, and they would not consider moving away. Whether they would participate in community projects depended on whether ‘others’, i.e. their neighbors and close friends and family would participate. The two participants who indicated at question number two that they didn’t plan on living in the area for much longer (the Italian woman and the young Moroccan man), said that in the proposed scenario of change, they would consider staying. DISCUSSION The results support the hypothesis that the area of West Station is a neighborhood with little economic activity and schooling opportunities. Also, participants leave it frequently to live their daily lives, whereas hardly any outsiders seem to find a worthwhile purpose to visit the neighborhood. Furthermore, the results also indicate that participants find the change in their neighborhood positive, even though, according to them, so far the neighborhood itself has not really been influenced. The results also indicate that it appears relatively easy to find a shared perception of the area: it is a calm, residential area, with a strong feeling of community amongst the majority of Muslim inhabitants. Muslim participants knew their neighbors well, but that the Italian family and the Romanian couple did not. Concerning this topic, something interesting occurred while looking for participants for the interviews. One Moroccan family, when asked whether they could make some time to answer questions about the neighborhood, answered that they hadn’t lived in the neighborhood for that long, that they didn’t know their neighbors yet and therefore couldn’t answer questions about the neighborhood. This supports the hypothesis that for the Moroccan, or more broadly, the

Muslim families, the community formed by the neighbors is more important than the actual physical impressions. The calm atmosphere is much appreciated by the participants, as results showed that all participants but one find the neighborhood pleasant as it is, and are not keen on changing anything. They mentioned not wanting any parks or playgrounds, because they were worried this would disturb West Station’s calmness. Participants did agree that the tidiness of the streets could be better. The Muslim participants all mentioned not wanting to change the community feeling they experience amongst their neighbors. The other participants, however did not mention this at all. This shows once more that even though the Muslim population experiences a pleasant community feeling, the non-Muslims feel no such thing. With regard to ideas for the future of West Station, paricipants felt disinclined to speculate. This is interesting, because it indicates that they feel as if they have no influence on the future of their environment. However, participants did show interest in participating in community projects. This indicates that if the right approach is created to get in touch with the community, residents could become far more involved in the planning of urban development. Results also showed that participants would prefer to stay if the area of West Station would become more economically active. Two participants who earlier in the interview indicated that they would like to move to a different neighborhood, said that if West Station changed in such a way, they would consider staying there. Hence, the scenario of more commercial activity in the neighborhood of West Station was perceived as fairly positive by all participants. Interestingly, many participants spontaneously mentioned that they did not like the occupation of a deserted brown field within the area (fig. 6). This area has been occupied for some time now

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by an artist who is making a statement against vacant property. He has converted a small building into something livable for himself, and exhibits his art work on the land, which is clearly not appreciated by the people who live next to it. Results showed that participants find it ugly and a degradation of the area. This indicates that there might be a large cultural barrier when it comes to interpreting urban interventions. In order to create a visual image that resonates with the inhabitants, it will be necessary to research which visual style appeals to them. In conclusion, further work will need to focus on not only on how to communicate the desired identity, but also on how to make sure that this identity is appropriately interpretated within the neighborhood’s culture.

Fig 6: Deserted brown field occupied by Brussels artist.

THE DESIRED FUTURE IDENTITY

External influences are pressuring the West Station neighborhood to become a place of much more economic activity. The qualitative interviews investigated how participants would react to such a development and revealed that there are some things that they would rather not change, namely the calmness and the community feeling of the place. However, the results show that the community feeling is only there amongst the Muslim families, and that the other ethnicities do not feel like they belong. There were some more cultural frictions noted during the interviews, but overall participants agreed that the neighborhood was a pleasant place to live, and they agreed that if the area would become more economically active, they would not want to move away. Also, participants reacted positively to the idea of participating in community projects. This creates a window of opportunity to profile the neighborhood in a new way, which balances out the wishes of all involved. The overall desired identity for the West Station area is thus defined a place where Mediterranean and Eastern European routes come together with a Western European reality, resulting in interesting economic and cultural activities. The local community of inhabitants remains very important, giving the place the intimate, comfortable feeling of an ‘urban village’, which becomes welcoming towards visitors and newcomers.

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VISUALIZING THE IDENTITY CREATING URBAN IDENTITY: A GUIDE TO A VISUAL PLATFORM ENABLING CITIZEN PARTICIPATION IN URBAN DEVELOPMENT


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CHAPTER 4: VISUALIZING THE IDENTITY In the previous chapter it was put into words what the future identity of the West Station neighborhood would ideally look like. The objective of this chapter is to define a method to visualize those words, to create the visual result that will be shown on the wall. The main goal of the visualization is that the result has to resonate with the residents of the area, and that there is way for them to comment on and further contribute to the result. Hence, the aim is finding an efficient method of co-creation and feedback, to make sure this goal can be fulfilled.

Neighborhood Analysis

Resident Feedback

Workshops

Tonkiss (2004) concludes from her research that an ideal way to make sure a communicative language will be understood by the target group is to test it in focus groups. This theory can be applied to this project, but has to be pushed further, because the target group shouldn’t merely understand the communicative language, they should have a say in how it is created. Combining

Images on Wall

Images Used inNeighborhood Development Planning Fig 7: flowchart of visualization process

the concept of focus groups with the concept of actively creating something leads to the solution of working with workshops. Workshops have more or less the same advantages and disadvantages as focus groups. They are an excellent way to get a thorough understanding of which similar and differing views a group holds (Tonkiss, 2004), but it is not guaranteed that the entire population agrees. Especially in the case of West Station, where the target group is not one but multiple culture and age groups, workshops alone are not sufficient. Burak Pak, teacher at the Saint Lucas School of Architecture and expert in large scale participation in urban development, was consulted on the issue and with his collaboration

the following flowchart in figure six was created1. The start of this flowchart is a small scale workshop, with a thoughtful selection of participants. Through collaboration with artists a first draft of the images is created and shown to the participants of the workshops, so they can say whether it really reflects the result they had in mind. This is a first, small loop of feedback, followed by a potential adjustment of the images, and by showing the images large scale on the wall. At this point, the project enters the large loop of feedback that aims to discover on a large scale what the inhabitants think of the projected images. This feedback can be linked back to the original workshop, to restart the 1

Personal conversation with Burak Pak, 7 November 2013

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OBJECTIVE

Structure and process enable people to be creative (Sawhney and Wolcott, 2004). That is why the start of the visualization process is to how the visual result will look. Thinking back of the anatomy of the wall, this result has to be a very long stretched image of about 4 meters high and several hundred meters wide. To create an image on that wall that residents will identify with, it is necessary that the image triggers a strong enough emotional reaction (Eisinger and Seifert, 2012). To obtain that reaction the image should therefore not be something too abstract, too difficult to decode (Sircus, 2001). Another practical issue to consider is that it has to be possible to change the image after feedback has been received. This influences how the image will be shown on the wall. Merely drawing, painting or printing an image on the side of the wall is not an option when the image has to be changeable. A painting doesn’t offer too many options for interaction either. Making the result digital and using plasma or even touch screens could be an alternative, but screens are expensive and can easily be damaged by bad weather and vandalism. A more realistic option is to use projectors and project the digital images on the wall. This has the one large disadvantage that the image will not be perfectly visible in daylight, but with the right technology and use of surface, the result can still be very readable and attention drawing (We Care, 2013). Projecting also offers the benefits that the visual result can be a video or an animation, as well as a still image. After brainstorming about the different visualization possibilities with three local artists it was decided to aim for a projection of the easiest visual image to interpret: the recreation

of the facades of a street in the neighborhood2. The objective is to recreate an image of twenty consecutive houses and that through the workshop this image will be adjusted to represent the desired future identity of West Station. There is also a social goal tied to the cycle of workshops and feedback: creating awareness and empowerment about the neighborhood development. The results of the qualitative inquiries clearly showed that people hadn’t yet thought about the future of the area, and even less about what their part in this future might be. Through the execution of this project, residents should become aware that they have the possibility and ability to make their voice matter. Using digital images supports this social goal, because the images can be shown in other places than the wall. These other places can for example be a website or a school, creating a larger platform to get feedback from inhabitants. Another place the images can be used is in the municipality’s administration, when decisions have to be made about future investments in the area. In Brussels, these particular development projects are called ‘neighborhood contracts’ (Administration of Brussels, 2013). The images that are the final result of the project can be a great democratic tool to reflect the people’s wishes in these neighborhood contracts.

ORGANIZER/SENDER

To obtain the project’s practical and social goal, it is important that the workshop organizer is respected by the administration and trusted by the citizens. To motivate the residents to participate they have to believe that there is real advantage to be gained (Windahl and Signitzer, 1992). The organizer plays a big part in this, as they are the sender of the message to the citizens that their opinions and wishes will be heard and acted upon. Several options are possible: the organizer can be a certain department of the municipality, an organization that is linked to the municipality or an organization that is 2

Personal conversations with Floris De Smet, cartoonist on 19 October 2013, with Jan Vanderhoeven, draftsman and graffiti artist, on 27 October 2013 and with Niels Coppens, draftsman and organizer of urban interventions, on 31 October 2013.

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independent, but has the power to bring to bear political pressure. The advantage of the organizer being the municipality itself is that the results will definitely be heard, but the disadvantage is that in areas like West Station there tends to be a feeling of distrust towards anything that is linked to the administration3. An independent organization might be more easily trusted by the inhabitants, but they might not have the power it takes to really make the neighborhood’s voice be heard. Ideally the workshop organizer would be an organization that has already proven its power to both the administration and to inhabitants in other areas of Brussels. Such an organization exists in Brussels under the name of JES. JES is a nonprofit organization that dedicates itself to the well being and opportunities of youth in three Belgian cities. They have a number of programs dedicated to the involvement of Brussels’ youth, from any social background, in the city’s development. Since the area around West Station is one of the youngest regions in the city, they are the proposed organizer of this project.

SUCCESS CRITERIA

Success criteria were defined for both the short and long term goals of the project. Shortterm it is important to check whether people really recognize themselves and a positive future perspective of their neighborhood in the workshop output. Since it is possible to, if necessary, repeat the workshop and feedback session, it makes sense to put certain measuring standards in place to qualitatively and quantitatively evaluate and compare the effect on the residents. Long-term it is necessary to check whether the project has alleviated the social issues of the community, which can largely be done by reviewing the city’s data on unemployment, education drop-out and tidiness. A detailed proposition of the success criteria can be found in appendix II.

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Lecture, JES study day, 7 November 2013.

PARTICIPANTS

Workshops are organized to get a thorough understanding of the views and opinions a group holds. Selecting people to form this group can be done by a range of approaches. There is random sampling, in which case the participants are selected at random. This form of sampling is fairly uncommon, as usually workshops are held for a certain target group that is made up by a certain type of people. Then there is purposive sampling, which is done by trying to come up with the relevant criteria of how people can be grouped on a certain subject. These criteria can be age, gender, level of education, ethnical background, but also a very specific group such as single mothers with children under the age of three living in Aarhus, or truck drivers that have regularly driven from Frankfurt to Vienna in the past two years (Tonkiss, 2014). Random sampling and purposive sampling each have their own advantages. Random sampling can be argued for as it will likely create a diverse group of participants who are more representativeof the diversity in the population, and hence the results may therefore be more representative of real society. However, this might call for a rather large amount of participants, depending on how culturally and ethnically diverse the geographic ally desired area is. Purposive sampling is the opposite: it creates niches of people that are in some ways similar. This has the advantage that people may feel more at ease to express themselves. Additionally, if one is looking for participants who can help with co-creation, it is important to bring together people who are not afraid to speak up, make a point and are not afraid of new experiences. Because the creative nature of the workshop requires people to voice their ideas and opinions, it seems reasonable to choose purposive sampling. But because it is still important to represent the population’s diversity, multiple purposively-sampled workshops with different participation selection criteria will be organized.

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This means that the criteria for group composition have to be researched and decided upon. These criteria will be dependent on the neighborhood composition, such as ethnic origins and religious practices. When examining the people composition of the area, two things are prominent: the fact that the average inhabitant age is young, and that it consists mostly of Northern-African families. The dominance of young people in the area and the fact that these young people will be the ones experiencing the changes front-row, indicates that it would be wise to put the focus on working with them. Yet ‘young people’ is still a very wide criterion, which has to be divided in some definite categories. The Brussels’ government uses the following age categories when maintaining demographic statistics: 3-5, 6-11, 12-17, 18-29, 30-44, 45-64 and 65 and older. Working with small children could be interesting for this project, but requires a very different approach than working with adolescents and young adults. That is why the workshop developed in this chapter will focus on the categories 12-17, 18-29 and 30-44, covering those that are in high school, those that are studying, working or unemployed and young parents. The field work from the previous chapter confirmed that the Islamic religion is quite prominent in most of the households, possibly resulting in stern views on male-female relationships. To avoid that the opinion of one gender overrules that of the other, the second criterion will be gender. Separate workshops will be held for men and women. It is a possibility to create a third criterion based on ethnicity. The advantage of doing so would be to ensure that the non-Islamic inhabitants get their say, but the disadvantage would be to miss the opportunity of creating some intercultural agreement during the workshops. After all, people from different backgrounds do not interact much in the neighborhood nowadays, but it is the project’s intention to start doing just that. Therefore, the suggestion is to create

the groups from people of diverse ethnic backgrounds. Should this pose serious issues that hold the workshops back from functioning as they should, the decision can be revised. In conclusion, the workshops will ideally be held in six categories: three age groups from 12-17, 18-29 and 30-44, each with a male and female group.

THE WORKSHOP

As mentioned earlier in this chapter, the practical goal is to create an image of twenty houses consecutive, improved with new components from participants’ vision of the future. This should be done in the right aesthetic style and with the use of the right symbols. It follows that the workshop will be divided in three exercises. One on aesthetical style preferences, one on the components that the inhabitants see fit in the area, and one on understanding semiotics. The exercises should be set up to make the participants actively engage with visual material, haptic engagement and aesthetic experience are conductive to creativity (Bratteteig and Wagner, 2012). The precise course of the exercises was discussed as well in the interview with Burak and the following three exercises were devised: The first exercise will treat style preferences. Participants will be asked to rank five series of ten images from most good-looking to most bad-looking. The ranking has to represent a collective opinion, so the participants have to agree on them, by voting if necessary. It’s meant to be a very intuitive exercise, so they will be given a maximum of four minutes per category. The categories are chosen to be gender neutral and appealing to all involved ages. The second exercise is designed to discover in a playful way what new things people can easily imagine in their neighborhood, and what they feel is very irrelevant. Participants will be given a large sheet of cardboard, with a picture of their neighborhood in the middle. Next, they

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will be given thirty pictures of buildings and urban spaces elsewhere in Brussels, which will be selected based on the desired future identity defined in chapter three. The exercise will be to arrange these pictures around the central picture, so that the things they would most like in the neighborhood are closest to the middle, and vice versa. This exercise is meant to induce some conversation between the participants and have a considered rather than a intuitive answer, so a larger timeframe is provided. Participants can spend thirty to forty minutes to agree on the arrangement. The third exercise aims to discover symbols found in urban space representing eight different terms: safety, joy, smart, boredom, insecurity, health, calmness and welcoming. Each one of the terms will be presented separately on a piece of paper, and the participants will be given one set of twenty pictures taken in Brussels. They then have to choose two or three that all participants find fitting for the theme. It’s important that they agree on the fitting pictures, to ensure that the symbols are relevant for people with different ethnical backgrounds. This exercise is meant to be intuitive, but with room for discussion. Participants will be encouraged to explain why they think the selected images match the term written on the paper. The time foreseen for this last exercise is twenty to thirty minutes. The photo material for the first exercise is listed in appendix I. The photo material for the other two exercises is still being developed and will be ready for presentation in January 2014. GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR THE WORKSHOP Previously it has been discussed what the group composition should be; now it has to be decided how many people are to be placed in one group. For the exercises of this workshop it is important that the participants come to an agreement in a relative short amount of time, the groups should therefore not be too big. In case a decision can’t

be reached unanimously it can come in handy to have an uneven group size, so a vote can be used to end ongoing discussion. Contemplating these practical issues groups of five or seven people seem to be a reasonable idea. The participantsmight have an idea of how the future of West Station looks, but the field work of chapter three has shown this is unlikely. That is why it will be necessary to start each workshop with a short explanation on why exactly the workshop is held, and what is expected from the participants. They will also be explained beforehand that the workshop will be recorded, and that pictures of the result of the exercises will be taken. In case the participants object to the audio recording, an assistant should be at hand to make notes. Time wise the workshop will take at least an hour and a half. Candidate participants will be told that the workshop last two hours, to avoid annoyances. Between the second and the last exercise a break can be held, to keep the ambiance pleasant and the concentration level high. Beverages and snacks have to be provided to be consumed beforehand, during the break and afterwards (Tonkiss, 2014). The location to organize the workshop can be the primary school located right in the middle of the neighborhood. It is mostly attended by local children, making it a good place to get in touch with young parents, and through them with adolescents and young adults. The school also has the necessary space available. As mentioned before, there is hardly any cultural infrastructure in the neighborhood, so finding a different place where people can gather in a relaxed, neutral ambiance might be difficult. To attract inhabitants from areas with a lot of residents of North-African ethnicity, schools in Brussels find it very efficient to promote these moments as ‘tea-moments’4 . An extra 4

Personal conversation with Elke Van den Ende, Assistant Director at Flemish Community Commission, Department of Education in Brussels, 18 November 2013

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motivation can be to project the names of the participants next to the other images, so they will have something to show for their time and effort. This ‘in cooperation with’ image can also show the audience that this was truly a collaboration with locals, which might motivate them to later on participate in the feedback questionnaire.

ANALYSIS AND VISUALIZATION

When analyzing the results of the workshops, the aim is to discover the greatest parallels between the different ages and gender groups. Then visual style can be decided upon, and it can be determined which new components (stores, restaurants, theaters, etc.) are most desired to be included. From the last exercise on semiotics, two things should be studied. First, all the symbols that are linked to boredom and insecurity should be banned. Second, the greatest common divisors from the positive emotions should be incorporated in the visual product, and especially those for calmness and welcoming should be used very prominent. This because the analysis of West Station in chapter three showed that ‘calmness’ is a very important quality to the local community and because ‘welcoming’ is a very important characteristic of the desired identity. This section will be further elaborated and presented with the visual product at the oral examination in January 2014.

important part of the method, some examples of how the questionnaire could be constructed, analyzed and distributed are proposed in appendix III. The ultimate goal is to arrive at a scenario in which the result from the feedback questionnaire shows that a majority of residents agree with the project imagery. If this has been achieved, it will be time to think of a strategy to translate the visualized desired identity into a long-term social reality.

FEEDBACK

The goal of the feedback system is to ensure that the projected imagery resonates with the majority of the area’s inhabitants. It is therefore important to get opinions from as many inhabitants as possible. This implicates that the gathered data has to be quantitative in order to be workable. Having a questionnaire with closed questions seems appropriate for this reason, but there are many ways to compose and organize such a thing. Creating a validated questionnaire for use in the feedback loop is out of scope for this report. However, as the feedback loop is an

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CONCLUSION Building a wall alongside a train track to safely make use of the space lying next to it and artistically expressing the identity of Brussels on that wall were this project’s starting ideas. For practical reason it was decided to move the focus from the identity of entire city of Brussels to the identity of the neighborhood of West Station. The problem statement then became how to create and visually communicate the identity of West Station, in such a way that it resonates with the residents and serves a clear purpose of social sustainability. The first result of the research was a definition of urban identity as a shared perception of all involved on the physical appearance and social meaning of the urban place. That this shared perception is not unchangeable, and is subject to external influences. The second result showed that communicating urban identity can be a weapon to change the shared perception of a place’ inhabitants, users and potential inhabitants and users. Therefore, it is important to not always communicate the urban identity as it is, but to research what a more desirable identity might be and communicate just that. Based on these results, the problem statement and method of working were revised. First, the goal of the project was redefined towards urban development: how do we make optimal use of a visual platform to enable citizen participation in urban development? Secondly, to realize this goal, it became necessary to research what the desired shared perception for the neighborhood of West Station would be. To execute the research, both the neighborhood’s external influences and internal perceptions and aspirations were analyzed. Thirdly, as urban development needs to be adaptable, the images also had to be adaptable, to acknowledge the changeability of urban identity. Hence, in cooperation with local

artists, the decision was made to create images on the wall via temporary projections. In cooperation with Eric Corijn a future scenario of the development of the area was sketched. To explore the scenario, a series of questions was put together to execute qualitative research on the residents’ perceptions and wishes. The future scenario showed the neighborhood as much more economically active, due to its location between the West Station and the fast developing Canal Zone. At the moment, the buildings in the area are almost exclusively residential. The desired future scenario shows residents participating in the economic uplift of the area, which is not a self-evident matter. It has happened on several occasions in Brussels that an area became more economically attractive, and as more business settled there, more middle and upper class citizens moved to the area, rental prices rose quickly and the original inhabitants moved to a cheaper area. Considering sustainable urban development, it makes more sense to find a way to include the original inhabitants in the economic uplift. This will combat the neighborhood’s high unemployment rates, as well as possibly increase schooling, rather than moving both the issues and the people to a different neighborhood. Having drawn up this desired future perspective, six qualitative interviews were conducted with residents. The key question was to analyze what the current shared perception of the area looks like. Furthermore, it explored which neighborhood elements participants enjoy and want to keep, and which elements they would like to change. The result of the inquiry was roughly that participants perceive their neighborhood as calm, as a small village inside the city, and that they don’t want that to change. However, participants wouldn’t mind it

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if the neighborhood became more economically attractive, as long as the neighborhood doesn’t lose its cozy feeling. In conclusion, the synthesis of the desired perception showed the area portrayed as an economically buzzing spot, with the intimate and comfortable feeling of a place where everyone knows everyone, and where the restaurants, shops and so on are held by locals. Like the center of a village composed of a melting pot of Mediterranean and Eastern European rooted inhabitants. The method to create the images that portray this desired perception in such a way that it resonates with the residents was developed together with Burak Pak . Said method would make use of a series of workshops to co-create the images, and follow up with large scale feedback sessions through a questionnaire send to all inhabitants. The content of the workshop was developed to discover the right visual style, the desired new elements to add to the neighborhoods’ image, and the visual symbols that are to be used and avoided in order to cause the desired reaction of positively identifying oneself with the images. The feedback system was designed such that it should be able to reach the largest amount of residents possible, with easy to quantify responses and response rates. Based on the feedback, the workshop protocols can be revised and new visual output can be created until positive resonance with the residents is achieved.

a two-step process: first the creation of the desired perception for the future of the area, and secondly the creation of the to be projected images. Both steps are founded in qualitative co-creation with local residents. The built-in feedback loop allows testing on a large scale whether residents recognize themselves and a positive future of their neighborhood in the images. Once the images conform to our criteria, they can form the basis for discussion with the municipality’s administration. Finally, this should lead to a draft policy to support the area’s future development in a socially and democratically responsible way.

A test run of this workshop and the output of what would visually be projected on the wall is not a part of the written part of this project, but will be presented orally in January 2014. To sum up, this project proposes a method to make optimal use of a visual platform to enable citizen participation in urban development, with the case study of a long and high wall in the neighborhood of West Station in the city of Brussels in mind. Currently, the method is

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DISCUSSION This thesis concluded that citizen participation in urban neighborhood development is can be encouraged through the co-creation of a visual platform of the desired future of the neighborhood. A concrete method was proposed to co-create this platform, including visualizations, for the neighborhood of West Station in Brussels. To evaluate the feasibility of this method, its effectiveness and generalizability will be discussed in the following paragraphs. Does the method fully achieve its purpose? The method developed claims to enable citizen participation in urban development. Citizens are involved in the process at two distinct points: while laying out the theoretical framework of the desired future of the neighborhood, and setting up the visual material for the final images. As figure 7 in chapter 4 shows, the process is chronological, i.e. the visual material will always depend on the theoretical framework. When critically reviewing the creation of the framework for the case study, it is important to note two points. First, a small initial sample size, i.e., the synthesis of the residents’ wishes was based on a small sample of qualitative interviews. As the visual material has not yet been created or projected, it has not been possible to test the synthesis with a larger sample of the neighborhood residents. Furthermore, as testing the whole method is out of scope for this report, the large scale feedback with a validated questionnaire will not be executed. However, the method does show early promise of encouraging the qualitative participation of a small number of citizens. This in turn will give the rest of the community a chance to speak up about the result of the collaboration. While it could be argued that the amount of citizens that initially participated is too small to be representative for the entire community, this does not invalidate the synthesis, nor the

method . If further follow up research shows that an extension of the synthesis is necessary, the researcher can arrange for additional interviews with carefully selected residents. Additionally, citizen participation on a large scale is only possible when a clear platform is laid out to work with. In that sense, the method does serve its purpose, as it clearly defines and sets up such a platform. The author also doesn’t exclude, that in the future, when more expertise on citizen participation will be available, alternative methods that serve the purpose more efficiently will be developed. Seondly, the qualitative interviews where combined with expert knowledge of cultural philosopher Eric Corijn. The residents were not given a fully independent chance to dream up the future of their neighborhood. Residents are more than welcome to cooperate and contribute, but to integrate all the neighborhood identities into the larger project, it is probably necessary to have a leader with a vision to steer the process. Whether this approach is right or not is part a larger discussion of what democracy in the 21th century should look like. However interesting and very relevant, this discussion is out of scope for this thesis. Can the method be generalized? The method in this thesis was developed for the very specific use in the area of West Station. It was based on the practical factors that there would be a very large landmark in the area to project the visual result upon, and that using internet was not an option. These factors won’t necessarily be present in other urban contexts. However, this doesn’t mean that the lay-out of the method cannot be generalized; the idea of creating a development framework and then concretizing this framework through the creation of a visual image is not bound to space

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nor time. It does mean that for this method to work as a general tool, more research is needed on its practical and technical possibilities. That said, it has to be mentioned that the small test run of the method that this project has gone through, is not sufficient to argue for its use in different neighborhoods in Brussels, or even in other cities. The concept of citizen participation in urban development is standing in its infancy. Far more testing and creative research will be necessary before the method can be considered a fail-proof tool of urban development. So much the more because that is the only way that this method of visualization will gain wide spread credibility, and win administrations’ trust to work with it. One option to explore is the design of a smartphone application that can unite and accelerate the process of creating images and hearing feedback on them. Granted, this would limit the method to wealthier city areas, but it would also be a way to solve the issue of large scale participation with modern day technology.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY & APPENDIXES CREATING URBAN IDENTITY: A GUIDE TO A VISUAL PLATFORM ENABLING CITIZEN PARTICIPATION IN URBAN DEVELOPMENT


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BIBLIOGRAPHY BOOKS

Billen, C., 2013. The History of a political capital. In: E., Corijn, J. Van de Ven, eds., 2013. The Brussels Reader. Brussels: VUBPRESS. Corijn E., Vloerbergs E., 2009. Bruxelles! In: E., Corijn, J. Van de Ven, eds., 2013. The Brussels Reader Brussels: VUBPRESS. Eisinger A., Seifert J., 2012. URBAN RESET; How to activate immanent potential of urban spaces. Barcelona: Birkhauser Fraser, A. Designing business: New Models for Succes. In: T., Lockwood ed., 2010. Design Thinking. New York: Allworth Press. Pp. 35-45. Gladwell, M., 2000. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. New York: Little, Brown and company.

Carmona M. and Tiesdell S. eds., 2007. Urban Design Reader. Oxford: Elsevier. Sawhney, M., Wolcott, R. C., 2004. The Seven Myths of Innovation. FT Mastering Innovation S. 1-2 Sircus, J., 2001. Invented Places. In: Carmona M. and Tiesdell S. eds., 2007. Urban Design Reader. Oxford: Elsevier. Tonkiss, F., 2004. Using Focus groups. In: C., Seale ed., Researching Society and Culture. 2nd ed. London: Sage, pp. 193-206 Vandermotten, C., 2013. The Second Urban Belt: Towards the Periphery. In: E., Corijn, J. Van de Ven, eds., 2013. The Brussels Reader. Brussels: VUBPRESS.

Goodwin, C.J., 1998. Research in Psychology: Methods and Design. 2nd Ed, New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Vermeulen S., Corijn, E., 2013. Gentrification or upwards social Mobility: The Canal Zone. In: E., Corijn, J. Van de Ven, eds., 2013. The Brussels Reader. Brussels: VUBPRESS.

Hall, S., 1980. Encoding/Decoding. In. S. Hall et al eds., 1980. Culture, Media, Language. Hutchingson: Random House. Pp. 128-138

Windahl, S., Signitzer, B., 1992. Using Communication Theory – An Introduction to planned Communication. Pp. 6-18 & 51-70

Heath, C., Heath, D., 2007. Made to Stick. New York: Random House.

Zukin, S., 1995. Learning From Disney World. In: Carmona M. and Tiesdell S. eds., 2007. Urban Design Reader. Oxford: Elsevier.

Jandt, F. E., 2010. Intercultural communication: Identities in a global community. 6th ed. San Bernardino: California State University in assoc. with Sage Publications. Rea A., 2013. Immigration and Diversity. In: E., Corijn, J. Van de Ven, eds., 2013. The Brussels Reader. Brussels: VUBPRESS.

PRINT JOURNAL ARTICLES

Bratteteig T., Wagner I. Spaces for participatory creativity. CoDesign, 8( 2-3), pp.106-107. Spector, P. E., 1992. Summated rating scale construction: An introduction (Vol. 082). USA: Sage Publications.

Relph, E., 1976. On the Identity of Places. In: KEA DESIGN & BUSINESS | SUSTAINABLE COMMUNICATION | BACHELOR EXAM PRJOECT 2014 KIRA VAN DEN ENDE


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PUBLICATIONS AVAILABLE ON WEBSITES

Bruplus. West Station: gebieden in beweging. (online) Available at: <http://www.bruplus. irisnet.be/nl/content/weststation> (accessed 10 October 2013). Brussels, Region of Brussels. Wijk Contracten: Wie doet wat? (online) Available at: <http:// www.brussel.be/artdet.cfm/4962> (accessed 3 November 2013). McLeod, S., 2008. Likert Scale. (online) Simply Psychology. Available at: <http:// www.simplypsychology.org/likert-scale.html> (accessed 20 November 2013). Sean, 2010. We Care: Daylight Projection Test. (online video) Available at: <http://vimeo. com/14869132> (accessed 5 November 2013). Technum Tractebel Engineering. Renovation and expansion of Brussels West Station. (online) Available at: <http://www.technum.be/en/ references/buildings/390-station-brussel-west> (accessed 10 October 2013). Vance, U. S., 2012. Urbanity = Urban + Idenity. (online) Sean Vance Architecture. Available at: <http://seanvancearchitecture.com/ blog/2012/01/09/urbanity-urban-identity/> (accessed 15 October 2013). Verhaar H., 2012. Urban Identity: citizens and their cities. (online) This Big City. Available at: <http://thisbigcity.net/urban-identity-citizenscities/> (accessed 15 October 2013).

DATA SOURCES

Neigborhood Monitoring of the Capital Region of Brussels, 2010. Average Income Per Tax Return. (online) Available through < https://wijkmonitoring.irisnet.be/maps/ statistieken-inkomen-brussel/fiscale-inkomensbrussels-gewest/gemiddeld-inkomen-peraangifte/1/2010/> (Accessed 15 October 2013).

Neigborhood Monitoring of the Capital Region of Brussels, 2007. Proportion of children born into a family with no income from work. (online) Available through <http://translate.google. com/?hl=nl#nl/en/Aandeel%20kinderen%20 dat%20geboren%20wordt%20in%20een%20 gezin%20zonder%20inkomen%20uit%20 arbeid> (Accessed 15 October 2013). Neigborhood Monitoring of the Capital Region of Brussels, 2001. Proportion of households dissatisfied with the cleanliness in the immediate vicinity of their home. (online) Available through < https://wijkmonitoring.irisnet.be/maps/ statistieken-milieu-brussel/netheid-brusselsgewest/aandeel-ontevreden-huishoudens-overde-netheid-in-de-directe-omgeving-van-hunwoning/1/2001/> (Accessed 15 October 2013). Neigborhood Monitoring of the Capital Region of Brussels, 2012. Proportion of the population in the vicinity of a green space that is accessible to the public. (online) Available through <https://wijkmonitoring.irisnet.be/maps/ statistieken-milieu-brussel/groene-ruimtesbrussels-gewest/Aandeel-bevolking-nabijheidgroene-ruimte/1/2012/> (Accessed 15 October 2013). Neigborhood Monitoring of the Capital Region of Brussels, 2011. Demography: Nationalities: Share of Northern Africa. (online) Available through < https://wijkmonitoring.irisnet. be/maps/statistieken-demografie-brussel/ nationaliteiten-brussels-gewest/aandeel-uitnoord-afrika/1/2011/> (Accessed 15 October 2013). Neigborhood Monitoring of the Capital Region of Brussels, 2011. Demography: Nationalities: Share of the new EU Member States (which joined in 2004-2007-2013). (online) Available through <https://wijkmonitoring.irisnet. be/maps/statistieken-demografie-brussel/ nationaliteiten-brussels-gewest/aandeelvan-de-nieuwe-lidstaten-van-de-eu-

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toegetreden-2004-2007/1/2011/> (Accessed 15 October 2013).

brussels-gewest/aandeel-12-17-jaar/1/2011/> (Accessed 15 October 2013).

Neigborhood Monitoring of the Capital Region of Brussels, 2011. Demography: Age Structure: Share Younger than 3 Years Old. (online) Available through <https://wijkmonitoring. irisnet.be/maps/statistieken-demografiebrussel/nationaliteiten-brussels-gewest/ aandeel-van-de-nieuwe-lidstaten-van-de-eutoegetreden-2004-2007/1/2011/> (Accessed 15 October 2013).

Neigborhood Monitoring of the Capital Region of Brussels, 2011. Demography: Age Structure: Share Between 18 and 29 Years Old. (online) Available through <https://wijkmonitoring. irisnet.be/maps/statistieken-demografiebrussel/leeftijdsstructuur-levenscyclusbrussels-gewest/aandeel-18-29-jaar/1/2011/> (Accessed 15 October 2013).

Neigborhood Monitoring of the Capital Region of Brussels, 2011. Demography: Age Structure: Share Younger than 3 Years Old. (online) Available through <https://wijkmonitoring. irisnet.be/maps/statistieken-demografiebrussel/leeftijdsstructuur-levenscyclusbrussels-gewest/aandeel-jonger-dan-3jaar/1/2011/> (Accessed 15 October 2013). Neigborhood Monitoring of the Capital Region of Brussels, 2011. Demography: Age Structure: Share Between 3 and 5 Years Old. (online) Available through <https://wijkmonitoring. irisnet.be/maps/statistieken-demografiebrussel/leeftijdsstructuur-levenscyclusbrussels-gewest/aandeel-3-5-jaar/1/2011/> (Accessed 15 October 2013). Neigborhood Monitoring of the Capital Region of Brussels, 2011. Demography: Age Structure: Share Between 6 and 11 Years Old. (online) Available through <https://wijkmonitoring. irisnet.be/maps/statistieken-demografiebrussel/leeftijdsstructuur-levenscyclusbrussels-gewest/aandeel-6-11-jaar/1/2011/> (Accessed 15 October 2013). Neigborhood Monitoring of the Capital Region of Brussels, 2011. Demography: Age Structure: Share Between 12 and 17 Years Old. (online) Available through <https://wijkmonitoring. irisnet.be/maps/statistieken-demografiebrussel/leeftijdsstructuur-levenscyclus-

Neigborhood Monitoring of the Capital Region of Brussels, 2011. Demography: Age Structure: Share Between 18 and 29 Years Old. (online) Available through <https://wijkmonitoring. irisnet.be/maps/statistieken-demografiebrussel/leeftijdsstructuur-levenscyclusbrussels-gewest/aandeel-18-29-jaar/1/2011/> (Accessed 15 October 2013). Neigborhood Monitoring of the Capital Region of Brussels, 2011. Demography: Age Structure: Share Between 30 and 44 Years Old. (online) Available through <https://wijkmonitoring. irisnet.be/maps/statistieken-demografiebrussel/leeftijdsstructuur-levenscyclusbrussels-gewest/aandeel-30-44-jaar/1/2011/> (Accessed 15 October 2013). Neigborhood Monitoring of the Capital Region of Brussels, 2011. Demography: Age Structure: Share Between 45 and 64 Years Old. (online) Available through <https://wijkmonitoring. irisnet.be/maps/statistieken-demografiebrussel/leeftijdsstructuur-levenscyclusbrussels-gewest/aandeel-45-64-jaar/1/2011/> (Accessed 15 October 2013). Neigborhood Monitoring of the Capital Region of Brussels, 2011. Demography: Age Structure: Share of 65 and Older. (online) Available through <https://wijkmonitoring.irisnet. be/maps/statistieken-demografie-brussel/ leeftijdsstructuur-levenscyclus-brusselsgewest/

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aandeel-65-jaar-en-ouder/1/2011/> (Accessed 15 October 2013). Neigborhood Monitoring of the Capital Region of Brussels, 2011. Number of Places in Kindergarten per Child Eligible for Kindergarten per Municipality. (online) Available through <https://wijkmonitoring.irisnet.be/maps/ statistieken-onderwijs-jonge-kinderen-brussel/ onderwijs-brussels-gewest/aantal-plaatskleuteronderwijs-kind-gemeente/0/2011/> (Accessed 15 October 2013). Neigborhood Monitoring of the Capital Region of Brussels, 2011. Number of places in Primary Education per Child Eligible for Primary Education per Municipality. (online) Available through <https://wijkmonitoring. irisnet.be/maps/statistieken-onderwijs-jongekinderen-brussel/onderwijs-brussels-gewest/ aantal-plaats-het-lageronderwijs-kindgemeente/0/2011/> (Accessed 15 October 2013). Neigborhood Monitoring of the Capital Region of Brussels, 2011. Number of places in Secondary Education per Child Eligible for Secondary Education per Municipality. (online) Available through <https://wijkmonitoring. irisnet.be/maps/statistieken-onderwijs-jongekinderen-brussel/onderwijs-brussels-gewest/ aantal-plaats-secundaironderwijs-kindgemeente/0/2011/> (Accessed 15 October 2013).

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APPENDIX I: PHOTO MATERIAL WORKSHOP EXERCISE ONE CATEGORY 1: CARS

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CATEGORY 2: HOUSES

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CATEGORY 3: WEDDING RECEPTION DECORATION

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CATEGORY 4: CITY SCAPE PAINTINGS

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CATEGORY 5: PHOTO PHILTERS

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APPENDIX II: SUCCES CRITERIA Resident Feedback

responded. To get a representative overview of the neighborhood, one should get feedback from 16 % of the population. This number is based on Windahl and Signitzers (1992) approach to planned communication. They state that when Images on Wall introducing a new idea to a large group of Workshop people, there are innovators that pick up on the idea very fast, early adaptors that follow, an early majority that will pick up on it next, then the late majority will follow, and finally the groups’ laggards will take up on the idea. For this project at least the feedback from the innovators (2.5%) and the early adaptors (13.5%) should be heard. The process illustrated in the above flowchart If this percentage hasn’t been reached then the contains two feedback loops. The first loop feedback system has to be redesigned such that is when the visualization is shown to the that more neighborhood inhabitants participate. workshop participants. This is a good occasion to write down the number of participants that The responses to the feedback questionnaire have returned, as this indicates whether the will have to be looked at critically. Did people workshop was organized and followed up such understand the questions well? This can be that it caught participants’ interest. Besides tested by regularly asking a negative question asking the participants verbally whether they and then see if respondents turned their answer approve of the proposed images, they could around. Unless they did so, that is a sign that they be asked to fill out a short questionnaire, so weren’t paying attention or that the question that the answers can be used for comparison wasn’t clear. If the results show that there are in either later stages of this project, or similar issues with the process, then the content of the projects elsewhere. This feedback will have feedback questionnaire has to be revised as well. to be analyzed carefully, to make sure that if the participants reject the proposed ideas the The criteria mentioned above are ways to content of the workshop and/or the artistic measure the proposed method of qualitative execution can be thoughtfully revised. This and quantitative citizen participation. However, approach also shows that the project leaders are as discussed in chapter 3, this project also really listening to the participants’ feedback and subscribes to the long-term goal of improving are taking it into account, which hopefully will social cohesion, which means a series of longmake them feel even more empowered about term criteria are necessary too. The question to the fate of their neighborhood. be answered here is whether the neighborhood Secondly, there is the larger feedback loop that follows the projection on the wall. The detailed execution of the process will be described in appendix III. However, to evaluate the process, one can look at the amount of people who

has developed in a socially sustainable way. This can be divided into several sub-questions: Have the safety and tidiness of the streets improved? Has the attrition rate been low? Have unemployment and school drop-out rates decreased?

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These questions should be relatively easy to answer for both current and future enquiries, as data around these issues are already collected by the city of Brussels. The safety of the streets can be split up into two points: the perceived safety and the actual number of reported criminal occurrences. The perceived safety is hard to measure, but a change in the factual number can be found in the police-records of the area. The tidiness of the streets is part of a questionnaire that is executed approximately every ten years in the city of Brussels. Inhabitants of the city are sent a letter, asked to fill out certain questions and send the letter back. In the most recent poll, the area of West Station was perceived the third dirtiest of the whole of Brussels. If the neighborhood develops well, there should be a notable difference within the next two decades. However, to keep better track of the effect of the project, it would be good to measure every five years instead. Whether the attrition rate has been low (that is to say, whether many original inhabitants have moved away and been replaced by wealthier occupants) can also be found in the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s data. The intention is to keep the attrition rate low, so that the original inhabitants increase their wealth along with that of the neighborhood. This is measured by the last two criteria as well; by looking at the rates of unemployment and education drop-out, one can assess whether the inhabitants of the neighborhood have become more involved in society as a whole.

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APPENDIX III: PRACTICAL IMPLEMENTATION OF THE FEEDBACK QUESTIONNAIRE NUMBER OF RESPONDENTS

In appendix II the goal was set to hear from 16% of the residents. For West Station that means 2880 people. Bearing in mind that the field work from the previous chapter showed that residents are inclined to form an opinion with the entire household, rather than expressing their individual opinion. An average household in the area consists of 2.66 people. So instead of aiming for 2880 individual responses, a more feasible goal is to aim for responses from 1083 households. This is still a very large number of responses, implicating that the gathered data have to be quantitative in order to be workable.

DISTRIBUTION AND PARTICIPANT MOTIVATION

First of all there is the practical issue of distributing the questionnaire. A tempting option is to use the internet, as this is a low cost solution, and it allows immediate interaction. However, one in five households in Brussels has no internet connection. In less privileged areas like West Station, this number is probably higher. Using internet means excluding the area’s poorest inhabitants, and as it is exactly those that this project wants to include, this is not an option. Another possibility is to take the questionnaire door to door. The qualitative research from the previous chapter shows that people are quite willing to let researchers into their houses, so this a sure way to get responses, and to know that people have understood the questions well. Regardless, it’s very labor-intensive to get responses from 1083 households. A way to compromise between going door to door and using internet exclusive is to send the questionnaire by mail, so that people can send it back without costs. The questionnaire can have a link to an online version of the questionnaire,

because people who do have internet might be more motivated to participate online, than to have to mail the letter back. Should the response rate be very low; the option remains to go door to door and motivate people to participate and collect the questionnaire. To get residents motivated the graphic design, the explanation of the purpose of the questionnaire and giving the right incentives are important. The graphic design can be based on the results of the workshops, and should be in line with the image displayed on the wall, in order to create coherence. Explaining the purpose of the questionnaire means telling people that the image they have been seeing is that which can be the future of their neighborhood, and that they are asked to comment on it, because their opinions will count. It also has to be made clear that the questionnaire will result in a new projected image, and it can be proposed that the names of the feedback participants will be added to the ‘in cooperation with’ image. During the qualitative interviews people clearly stated that they are willing to participate in projects, on the condition that ‘others’ do it too. Projecting the names of the people that have participate in the project will therefore most likely result in more people participating, because they sense that a bigger group is joining the project.

COMPOSITION

To be able to compare results of various questionnaires, the questionnaires should be composed in such a way that their responses are quantitatively measurable. Because that the questionnaire has be held off-line the ways in which this can be done are limited With an online questionnaire, it is possible to measure variables like response time per question and whether people go back to previous questions

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to rethink their answer; both are indicators of how strongly they feel about the subject. Online questionnaires also offer more interactive questioning methods that are impossible offline, such as letting people construct puzzles from pictures. However, printed questionnaires also offer adequate ways to measure results. According to research by Spector (1992) on rating scale constructions, the best way to work in this context would be to handle a Likert scale. The Likert scale has been developed to quantitatively measure people’s attitudes and opinions. It works by giving people response options that reach from ‘strongly disagree’ to ‘strongly agree’, often with a 5 or 7 point scale (fig. 1)

Figure 1: Likert scale responses

This scale can be linked to points going from 1 to 5. If 10 questions are asked, then this allows people to score anything between 10 and 50, and it allows a detailed statistic response analysis.

RESPONSE ANALYSIS

The Likert scale is a linear tool, but the respones can be given multiple dimensions by splitting questions between multiple themes and analyzing eacht theme’s questions independently. Content wise, the goal of the questionnaire is to discover to check whether people recognize themselves and a positive future perspective of their neighborhood in the images projected on the wall. This includes two themes: self recognition and approval of the ideas in the images. If the results of the questions on these two themes are placed on separate axes then a fairly detailed overview of the neighborhood’s attitude can be created (fig. 2). The next step of the project can be determined based on where inhabitants situate themselves in this chart. There are two worst case scenarios. One is that the majority of the people has no

pos

neg

Opinion

Figure 2: chart to map questionnaire responses.

sense of self recognition in the images, and a very negative opinion on the proposed future of the neighborhood. If this is the case then the workshop has to be re-thought from the beginning. The other worst case scenario is that the response rate is very low, and that those that respond feel completely neutral. Although that implies that the neighborhood could change without resistance from the inhabitants, it also indicates a well-spread feeling of apathy, which is the opposite of what this project aims to accomplish. If this turns out to be the case, more research will be necessary on how to motivate people to become participating citizens. Less extreme scenarios are that the majority of people are placed somewhat positive on the one axis and somewhat negative on the other, or vice versa. With this information, and the analysis of the questions themselves, the content of the workshop can be revised, the images adjusted, and a new round of feedback can be held to check whether results have improved. The ultimate aim is to arrive at a scenario in which the majority place themselves reasonably positive on both axes.

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CREATING URBAN IDENTITY: A GUIDE TO A VISUAL PLATFORM ENABLING CITIZEN PARTICIPATION IN URBAN DEVELOPMENT

Creating Urban Identity  

A Guide to a Visual Platform Enabling Citizen Participation in Urban Development Written for the neighborhood of West Station in Brussels....

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