© Eugène Franken
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About this column:

In a weekly column, alternately written by Eveline van Zeeland, Eugène Franken, PG Kroeger, Katleen Gabriels, Carina Weijma, Bernd Maier-Leppla, Willemijn Brouwer and Colinda de Beer, Innovation Origins tries to figure out what the future will look like. These columnists, sometimes joined by guest bloggers, are all working in their own way to find solutions to the problems of our time. So tomorrow will be good. Here are all the previous articles.

Dear Mr. Dijsselbloem, congratulations and welcome back to this fantastic city! Your connection-focused speech at the inauguration as mayor began with the back of a traffic sign. Someone had taken the liberty of asking a question on it with a marker pen: ‘Eindhoven What are we?’ It struck you as being significant. I could not agree with you more. But the answer to such a question is not something you can just magically pull out of a hat. So, dear Jeroen, if you want to gain some innovative ideas about this, keep your ear to the ground during the kick-off of the ‘Het Stadsmanifest’ (Eindhoven City Manifesto) kick-off of the Dutch Design Week 2022.

Public support

Many innovative and groundbreaking developments in recent years have not always gained the support of a section of the Eindhoven population. Thousands of homes are stuck in ongoing proceedings at the Dutch Council of State. Discussion of the elevation of the St. Catherine’s Church (Sint-Catharinakerk) in the Dutch TDK capital with the actual use of Technology, Design and Knowledge proved to be utterly impossible.

This is evidence of civic engagement. And civic engagement is a good thing. At the same time, it makes the formulation of plans for spatial planning projects more complicated. Especially when the value of the living environment is increasingly being defined in terms such as identity. For this reason, a common frame of reference is urgently needed in order to have a fruitful discussion with each other about the city’s future. And you need to engage and reach out to the right mix of different groups. Owing to the changing nature of legislation and litigation, polarization has set in. A lot of citizens are not being reached, do not feel that they are being addressed or are not allowed to have their say because they are not (yet) residents.


EHV XL, a knowledge and communication platform for urban development in the Eindhoven metropolitan region, is therefore going to experiment each year at the Dutch Design Week with different forms and use of technology to explore how best to engage and inform people. To start with, EHV XL will spend a year on a quest to discover the city’s identity with the help of the Cheops student association. Volunteers will invite residents in all 109 Eindhoven neighborhoods to capture in a qualitative sense what kinds of values are at stake for them. This broad view of what residents value about their present living environment will be crafted into the Eindhoven City Manifesto that neighborhood ambassadors will present at the DDW 2023.

There are no such things as a ready-made answers to urban issues. It is only through a collective process with a representative range of parties that solutions to contemporary urban problems can be molded into shape. With words that transcend the boundaries of the jargon of the separate sectors. Words that can also express appreciation for lay people.

Weighing up

You should not assume that there is a group of advocates and opponents but rather explore, name and weigh up the different values against each other in a conversation between the variety of disciplines and lay people who are involved.

Differences of opinion are essentially not about if things will change, but about how. By examining the city’s identity, you get an idea of what people might start to think about the future of their city that embraces progress and is mindful of what already exists. We will have to make choices. The City Manifesto is at least bringing this back to the core of what matters.

See you at the kick-off of The Eindhoven City Manifesto!