The making and branding of a healthy urban place: case Utrecht
Ank Hendriks is the Coordinator of citymarketing at the City of Utrecht.
Cities all over the world share many similar challenges and need to translate them to local actions. A new localism, if you will. It is an inspiring case, with results that can provide lessons to others.
The Netherlands are a densely populated and very urbanised city, with much to teach to the rest of the world. Utrecht is one of the fastest growing regions in the Netherlands. It is third on the Copenhagenize list after Copenhagen and Amsterdam, competing for the top European competitive region list along with Stockholm and London (European Competitiveness Index 2019). Recently, they were nominated for the European City of the Year Award 2020 for spatial development by the Academy of Urbanism.
Healthy urban living at the core
Utrecht is on a mission to become one of the absolutely healthiest regions of Europe. To face challenges (that cities often have in common) like the climate crisis, mobility, pollution or the housing shortage, Utrecht strives specifically to provide for a healthy urban environment. A part of this quest is about learning and sharing.
Utrecht is currently remodelling its branding model to suit the strategic goal of healthy urban living with the Utrecht brand that has inspiration in its core. Creating public value is at the centre of the work Utrecht does, putting strong focus on stakeholders, including their goals and supporting their projects. There is social value in that, but also economic: Utrecht believes that urban solutions generated in a city can be spread worldwide as urbanization is a global phenomenon. In every urbanization and branding project, stakeholders and citizens are involved. Utrecht will give an example about the planning process and about placemaking. The city’shealthy urban living strategy has already inspiring examples to show with the biggest bike parking garage in the world (read more) the “We Drive solar project” (a coalition of Renault and energy companies, with local initiators and government) and creating a green and sustainable city center Wonderwoods, a new vertical housing and garden project in the central station area. (read more)
Placemaking Dutch style
The urban environment needs vision, strategy and action. But what about the nuts and bolts? Placemaking is of growing importance for Utrecht in order to do things together with the citizens and to create attractive, sustainable and safe places. Placemaking in the brand new train station area is a good case: how to make a fast growing transit area lively and even lovely? Another example under discussion will be Cartesius , an old industrial area, where owners and active citizens are creating a very lively and creative hotspot.
Ank will talk about the Utrecht brand model renewal, how to create a healthy urban environment and how to practice inspiring and lovable Dutch placemaking.