May 2019 - Urban Strategy

Growing and flourishing

Zoetermeer wants to add some 10,000 homes. This “scale leap”, as the municipality calls it, will be realised within the city limits. That is a rather drastic change of course, as Zoetermeer, which used to be a growth municipality, focused mostly on expansion for several decades. The new course will also find its way into policy, projects and consultation with the residents and numerous other parties. The municipality also developed a specific knowledge programme for its own employees, consisting of regular and lunch lectures, and serious gaming. This serious game, which was developed by urban planners and consultants from Inbo, has had more than 200 participants among civil servants, college and council members. 

Combine tasks and qualities
The game revolves around a major dilemma: Zoetermeer is going to grow inward, but it also wants to strengthen its green and relaxed identity. Can those two be achieved simultaneously? The game starts by elaborating on Zoetermeer’s qualities. What types of green does Zoetermeer offer? How are these used, and are they appreciated? Zoetermeer has a relaxed image, but what is that based on? At which locations around the city can this feeling be experienced? Next, the game sets out Zoetermeer’s new tasks against its qualities. These include additional housing, increasing the sustainability of existing buildings, improving internal and external accessibility, additional facilities, health and well-being, social cohesion and room for employment. Eventually, the question is posed how and by whom a connection could be made between these new tasks and the much-appreciated aspects in the current situation. 

Playing games
This playful form of consultation proves very fruitful. At first, colleagues from different policy areas, with different experiences and different responsibilities, enter into discussions. These quickly gain depth and become more result-oriented. What are the priorities, and what knowledge, exchange and experimentation are necessary. When the game is over, the initial dilemma has been replaced by concrete follow-up actions and references, and the officials can state their knowledge needs more clearly.

Further information: Guido Wallagh