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Philips van Lenneppark Kiosk

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by René van der Velden

Since the beginning of my internship at Bron van Doen I have had the chance to be involved in a project which aims to solve the dispute between the municipality and a group of its citizens. The dispute is about a ‘kiosk’ in the Philips van Lenneppark in Eindhoven, which was to be demolished due to decay. The surrounding neighbourhood residents disagreed and started a workgroup to oppose to the decision made by the municipality. After a lengthy process the municipality agreed a new kiosk could be built and they offered the workgroup a small financial contribution as well as a social designer to aid the process.

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This social designer is Conor Trawinski and I have been assisting him in this process as he has been using his knowledge about co-design processes to lead the group towards a solution. So far we have organized four meetings/workshops with the group.

The first challenge proved to be getting a clear grasp of the situation, many things had already happened before we joined in. This difficulty was enhanced by the quite radical changing of the project between the 3rd and 4th session, as the Kiosk did not have to be demolished anymore, only renovated. Due to everything that happened the participants cherished a lot of frustrations towards the municipality, our job was to get them to put it in the past and look towards the future.

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By preparing, executing and reflecting upon these sessions in collaboration with Conor I have learned many things. One of the most important things I have experienced is what the role of the designer is in this situation. I had some difficulties with defining what role we had and how we should lead the group. I found the answer when looking at the skills the participants lacked, while Conor did possess them and could complement the group. I realised it was mainly the lack of knowledge about creative processes and working in an uncertain process towards a concrete solution, where the participants needed help. With this knowledge and all the other things I have learned I am better equipped to be of value as a social designer within these processes.