The Atelier BrabantStad was set up in 2013 by the IABR to look for the opportunities that lie hidden in Brabant’s urban tapestry. In alliance with the Province of North Brabant, BrabantStad (the municipalities of ’s-Hertogenbosch, Eindhoven, Tilburg, Breda, and Helmond) and the Water Boards of North Brabant, the atelier investigated what (re)connects Brabant's cities in a productive way.
Water as a Hidden Strength
Preparing the design of an alternative spatial vision and new development models in response to the stalled spatial and economic development of North Brabant, the Project Atelier conducted research by design in close collaboration with local stakeholders and informed by international experts.
BrabantStad is in fact a dispersed city, or better yet: an urban landscape. It is a mosaic, as extensive as it is varied, a carpet metropolis involving many forms of land use in high and low densities. The crisis hit the municipalities of North Brabant hard and many planned developments had to be discontinued. The question was how to address major socioeconomic and environmental challenges on a regional scale.
The water system proved the catalyst that got the spatial and economic development of the region going again. Economic vehicles concerning residential quality, agriculture, leisure and innovative enterprise were cleverly coupled with the water challenge, which resulted in an accumulative development strategy.
The Project Atelier BrabantStad has emphatically addressed governance issues as well as the spatial qualities of the region. It turned out to be the sum of local coalitions and projects that was able to reactivate the urban landscape of North Brabant, with the government facilitating social dynamics – provided that such developments also contribute to answering some of the major challenges.
The results of the Atelier were presented at IABR 2014's main exhibition, Urban by Nature, in Rotterdam. The dynamic playing field of the urban carpet of BrabantStad was made legible and tangible by literally creating a tapestry, designed especially for the exhibition in collaboration with the Tilburg TextielLab.
In addition, the outcomes of the Atelier were discussed with a large and diverse group of policy makers, entrepreneurs and residents at the BrabantDag, organized by the province of North Brabant during the biennial in 2014.
With an eye toward the new Regional Plan for the Province of North Brabant and in the context of the Year of Spatial Planning 2015, the Province of North Brabant wished to share the results of the IABR–2014–Project Atelier BrabantStad and discuss the future of the mosaic metropolis of Brabant with as many Brabanders as possible. Therefore, a small exhibition of the results of IABR–Project Atelier BrabantStad, ‘Mosaic Brabant’, has visited five different locations in the Province of North-Brabant after the IABR–2014–URBAN BY NATURE–: Helmond, Eindhoven, Tilburg, ’s-Hertogenbosch and Breda.
At a number of locations, work on the translation of regional development principles into local project proposals continues to concretize. A pilot project proposal is being prepared for the Dommel valley and pilots have been launched in East Tilburg and ’s-Hertogenbosch. In the coming years, the Water Boards of Brabant will also further develop the Project Atelier’s proposals.