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Together with several members of SkyscraperCity, I recently founded the EHVXL association. EHVXL is a local multimedia platform that sheds light on metropolitan developments in the Eindhoven region via public debate. It contributes to urban planning in a constructive way. Future-oriented, with attention to important current social issues- such as circularity, demographic changes, mobility, climate change, and the energy transition.

Thought-provoking commentary

This is how it turned out: A few highly educated young men from SkyscraperCity, an internet forum focused on metropolitan developments all over the world with 850,000 active members, had been closely following spatial development strategies in Eindhoven for several years. In doing so, they were constantly on the lookout for up-to-date images to post and provide thought-provoking commentary for. With a view to inspiring top-notch debates. By far the majority of people on the forum did not have a professional background in spatial planning. And, curiously enough, they had never actually met each other in person.

Wide audience

Of course, they sought out my recently published book ‘Showing of(f) Eindhoven’ featuring present-day construction initiatives in Eindhoven. This snapshot of a vibrant city in transition, that revealed the extraordinary everyday side of Eindhoven as well as the ultra-extraordinary side, aims to periodically inform a wide audience about the transformation of Eindhoven into the Brainport downtown city-region with 700,000 residents. They noticed similarities in this setting with their own ambitions to migrate to an open professional platform. That was how we came into contact with each other.

We discovered that public support for Eindhoven’s metropolitan ambitions is underrepresented in the public debate. There were also increasing calls coming from the city for more balance and positivity. Moreover, there is a desire for a more meaningful, transparent voice, something that is not adequately arranged even though this does concern future residents. By 2040, 40,000 homes will be built in Eindhoven. A considerable part of this housing will be erected in the form of towers in the city center.

A story that involves everyone

If the reasons behind urban planning change so drastically in a city, then this has an enormous influence over the long term. Consequently, you need to develop a long-term vision together with as many of its current residents and future stakeholders as possible. This is certainly possible in these times of social media and mass communication. Especially in an open, innovative city, which is in the process of changing and where everyone wants to be a part of that. Creating a vibrant, attractive city is simply a story that involves everyone.

EHVXL has grown fiercely within the space of a few months. The platform already has dozens of contributors who offer their expertise. An influential movement is emerging with more than one hundred members and thousands of followers. I wish every city had its own XL. Do not get bogged down in a dysfunctional past, celebrate renewal instead.

About this column

In a weekly column, written alternately by Wendy van Ierschot, Eveline van Zeeland, Eugene Franken, Jan Wouters, Katleen Gabriels, Mary Fiers, and Hans Helsloot, Innovation Origins tries to find out what the future will look like. These columnists, occasionally supplemented with guest bloggers, are all working in their own way on solutions for the problems of our time. So tomorrow will be good. Here are all the previous articles.