Again, we didn’t buy the building, but we discovered that citizens have not only the appetite to develop buildings and sites – and in that way influence their living environment – they are even willing to share their knowledge and put in their own skills and expertise for the realisation of their future urban environment. In the context of the ‘BWMSTR label’ we organized an exhibition and a series of workshops and public debates in cultural centre deSingel from November 2016 until January 2017. The research questions in the workshops were: how can we avoid this (selling important buildings to highest bidder instead of the candidate with the most qualitative plan) from happening again? What kind of (online) platform do citizens need for them to organize themselves to collectively buy and develop buildings and sites with a potential significant impact on their urban environment? How can we identify, inventory, match and validate the skills citizens put to service in the development of their neighbourhood?
During the workshops participants from different backgrounds (architecture, urban planning, sociology, real-estate, government, …) took part in business modelling exercises. In looking for the right business- and organization model the attendants were forced to think about – and formulate answers for – the research questions and reflect on different aspects such as market segmentation and value proposition. It became very clear that if we wanted to identify and activate the skills of citizens to develop buildings and sites in their environment, we needed to facilitate and ‘curate’ a process and a platform to match skills with projects.