With social infrastructure, the government holds the key to making smart combinations – for example by making thematic connections or achieving social and physical goals. But the realization and operation of these types of facilities is not easy. Responsibilities are divided between different departments or lie partly with social and private partners. Veldacademie therefore conducts research into public value creation.
Social facilities such as schools, cultural and sports facilities, or housing have great potential to improve the quality of life in a neighborhood. Whether in the social realm as a public meeting place, a place for care and support or an inspiring place to learn. Be it as part of a walking network, traffic-safe play and sports area or as part of green and water structures. They are part of the social and physical infrastructure. With social facilities, the government therefore holds a key to achieving social and physical goals and enriching the public space. However, the realization and operation of these types of facilities is not easy. Responsibilities are divided between different departments or lie with social and private partners. There is a need for a shared perspective on value creation. Veldacademie therefore conducts action research into the public value of social infrastructure in collaboration with the Strategic Team Social Infrastructure of the Municipality of Rotterdam.
Renewed attention for social value
In the Netherlands, it is normal to think carefully about the design and maintenance of the physical infrastructure, such as roads, public transport or bridges. They are long-term investments. But what about our social infrastructure? How can we make social real estate and facilities future-proof? What kind of places are they and what function do the facilities in the neighborhood fulfill? Can we make better use of facilities by combining different functions or working better together? What goals do we want to achieve exactly and how? And who are the partners in development and operation?
Atelier 'Space for Social Facilities’
In the workshop, we aim to investigate these questions based on a small number of 'case studies' – current Rotterdam challenges where development opportunities are now emerging, for example because several replacement or renovation projects are coming up, an area development or because there is support for cooperation between a number of parties that can create added value. It is therefore a form of action research in which we want to influence the development of facilities and learn from them.
Trends and references
How could you realise broad social value development? In 2021, we completed an international trend study in collaboration with Dolf Broekhuizen, in which we inventoried innovative developments in the field of social services. We focused on facilities that pursued multiple goals or where collaboration was interesting for Rotterdam. This trend study formed the starting point for an in-depth reference study in which we looked at which social values were actually being realized and in what way. Values that we found in the reference projects are, for example, health, safety, ownership, accessibility, connectivity, flexibility, economic potential or sustainability. Based on these values, we are developing an assessment framework for Rotterdam's challenges. Can we be inspired to attach a number of values to these assignments?
A practical methodology for public valuation
In the Space for Social Facilities workshop, we also investigated how you can work with a broad group of diverse stakeholders on valuable facilities and what opportunities and obstacles you encounter in doing so. We did this on the basis of a small number of 'case studies' – due to opportunities from emerging development challenges in Rotterdam, for example, several upcoming renewal or renovation projects, area development projects or because there is support for cooperation between a number of parties, resulting in added value. Using action research, we wanted to influence the development of social facilities and learn from them. We recorded the experiences with five concrete cases in an extensive report (Practical experiment with a methodology for multiple public value assessment). This report describes in detail our experiences with the developed methodology for public value assessment and the lessons we draw for the future.