Winter School in Rotterdam and Delft

The project TRUSTMAKING holds a series of summer and winter schools in four European cities where its urban living labs take place. After having a winter and summer school in Vienna and Oslo, this time a winter school took place in the Netherlands. Organised by TU Delft in February 2024, the winter school aimed to foster exchange and cross-learning between the consortium partners. We had the event at several locations in Delft and Rotterdam – at TU Delft, Academie van Bouwkunst, and Gemaal op Zuid. The programme was divided into four parts; below, I describe how we organised the winter school.

Cross-learning Sessions

We had several cross-learning sessions where we first shared 1) the progress of each ULL; 2) the result of monitoring; and 3) the experience of working with youth and building trust within the ULL. We exchanged lessons learned and derived the first trust-making principles, which will be the basis for our trust-making guidebook.

Project meetings

In addition to cross-learning sessions, we had a number of project meetings where we discussed our publication, i.e. the content of the trust-making guidebook, and the topic of scientific articles. Moreover, the Oslo team shared the result of the survey conducted with youth on their use of social media based on which the team created social media strategies for our project. We also brainstormed potential activities in the next (and the last) summer school in Panevėžys in July.

Academic exchange with expert talk

One of the highlights of the winter school was the academic exchange, which took place at TU Delft. We invited researchers working in the Netherlands who share the research interest with us to create an interdisciplinary exchange network where we promote knowledge transfer across the fields of architecture, urban planning, social science, and psychology. In addition to our consortium partners, we had six guests from Utrecht University, TU Delft, and Hogeschool Rotterdam. Prof. Dr. Ellen van Bueren from the TU Delft opened up the session by giving a presentation on urban living labs asking what, why and how questions. As an expert in relationships and youth studies, Prof. Dr. Catrin Finkenauer from Utrecht University gave input on trust including the conditions that are necessary to earn trust. Dr. Celine Janssen from the TU Delft joined the event as well. She delivered input on capability approach and presented her PhD project to show how this approach can be applied in urban planning and governance. Lastly, Dr. Loïs Schenk from Utrecht University presented her research on at-risk youths, providing insights into doing research on vulnerable group of people. Dr. Angela van der Heijden from Hogeschool Rotterdam described the local context of ULL in Rotterdam, while Dr. Joris Hoekstra from the TU Delft shared his experience with youth co-creation for policy making in the area of housing. The input by experts and exchange of experiences led to the discussion how capabilities, trust, and co-creation are related as well as how urban living labs can foster the interrelationships between them.

Exploring Rotterdam through excursions

Lastly, we had an excursion at five different places in Rotterdam – The Niteshop, Store Store Rotterdam, Park 1943, Rotterdamse Munt, and Buitenplaats Brienenoord – that are considered to be relevant for our project. Below, I describe each place and provide a link where you can find more information.

The Niteshop is a living archive where ideas and meanings of the community are preserved. By working with various actors (e.g. designers, artists and researchers) it aims to incorporate the knowledge and skills of citizens on the margins of society in urban development where diasporic culture is taken into account. We talked with Malique Mohamud and Nacor Martina who introduced their projects including an example where they engaged young people in the neighbourhood to design a public space.  The Niteshop, Schiedamseweg 114B, 3025 AH Rotterdam, Netherlands, #tokosandbodegas


At the Store Store Rotterdam, which is an association of artists, architects and designers, we met Lisanne Janssen who explained how they address the social imbalance in art, design and architecture education. By offering free art courses, it supports young people from underrepresented backgrounds. The products made by young people are sold; part of the proceeds goes to them. The rest flows back into the educational programme. Store Store Rotterdam, Gouvernestraat 271, 3014 PM Rotterdam, Netherlands, #storerotterdam

We also had a guided tour with Rini Biemans from Creatief Beheer at the Park 1943, which is a green space located in Rotterdam-Delfshaven. The park was developed after the Second World War on an empty space created by the bombing in 1943. Rini Biemans explained activities regarding the park maintenance with volunteers including the city medicine programmes which are implemented by residents, neighbourhood organisations, and the municipality to take over the municipality’s tasks of park maintenance.

Rotterdamse Munt is a series of city gardens – pioneer, herb, schrub, and forest garden – on Rosestraat (Rose street) in the Feijenoord district of Rotterdam with a mission to make the city green with fellow citizens. It not only grows (partly edible) plants, trees and shrubs, but also serves as an academy for nature and environmental education, and enterprise with social entrepreneurial initiatives. Rotterdamse Munt, Rosestraat 200, 3071 AH Rotterdam, Netherlands, #rotterdamsemunt

Finally, we visited the island of Brienenoord in Rotterdam and met Maurice Sprecht from the foundation Buitenplaats Brienenoord which manages a cultural building on the island that hosts meetings and activities enabling rehearsals for the possible future of the city. He told stories about the foundation’s activities including how the majority of materials from the old building was reused to construct the new building. Buitenplaats Brienenoord, Van Brienenoord 5, 3077 AE Rotterdam, Netherlands, #buitenplaatsbrienenoord