Update by Olga Mink
Posted: 17 February 2017
Update by Olga Mink
Housing corporation Sint Trudo is renowned for its innovative project development on Strijp-S in Eindhoven, the projects in Woensel West, the Slimmer Kopen model (co-ownership model for first time buyers) and many more. Thom Aussems, director of Sint Trudo invited Olga Mink, artistic director of Baltan Laboratories, to assist Sint Trudo with the development of Trudo.lab, a new initiative.
Economia is the festival of
Trudo.lab aims to focus on the development of creative ideas, as part of Sint Trudo’s core business and future strategy in which the essence of the corporation boils down to three main concepts: affordable housing, power to the people and mixed income. Ten creative team members were selected via an open call, to collectively explore a range of topics and challenges proposed by the Sint Trudo board of directors, as well as the team itself. The plenary lab sessions are held four times a year in the Apparatenfabriek on Strijp S. So far the lab sessions sparked a lot of dynamics evolving into highly creative ideas and innovative approaches. By opening up new ways of thinking and probing ideas in a playful manner, the sessions allowed for the exploration of general issues and also very specific challenges.
For example, the renovation of the historical building Eikenburg, in which the connection between past and present is key. How can Sint Trudo develop a sense of co-ownership and togetherness with the community that will start inhabiting this area? Trudo.lab proposes a very open and playful strategy towards the development of a community and their engagement with the project, its heritage, lush surroundings and the connection with the city of Eindhoven. Another question posed during the labs, is how to develop an active community and translate the successful elements for community building to other types of projects? The answers to many of the questions involve carefully considered strategies and simultaneously deal with a practical ‘hands on’ approach. This is exactly what the housing organisation is open to, when it comes to finding new opportunities and developing unexpected approaches for the implementation of new services.
Other challenges involved the visibility of Sint Trudo as the main propellant behind the urban area Strijp-S in Eindhoven. What story needs to be told and for whom? During the labs, these underlying questions are carefully discussed and analysed. To speed up the creativity in the group, the creation of subgroups enable a dynamic flow of energy between each of the team members. Other strategies involved co-creation sessions such as drawing, performing, discussing, listening and reverse-engineering collectively developed ideas with individual approaches.
Trudo.lab obviously doesn’t just focus on their own intrinsic values and services. In times of increased populism and political turmoil the housing association sector is also part of this development, just as any other entity. Concerns were expressed how to navigate these neoliberal winds, when it comes to segregating communities and civic engagement in general. What does this 'cry of anger' mean for the strategic choices of Sint Trudo?
In times of radical uncertainty, the cross-pollination of innovative ideas and probing future scenarios could become an effective way for policy making in any organisation willing to takes their role as a responsible leader seriously.