In the middle of Woensel, the northern part of Eindhoven, is a place called ‘WoenselXL’. When it opened in 1971, this immense shopping centre was an icon of modernity. Meanwhile, the neighbourhood has largely lost its heart for this place. Concrete, bleak, empty, with no reason to visit anymore, is the commentary. Together with housing corporations, property owners, local entrepreneurs and the municipality of Eindhoven, we, BRAND and Yellow Sunshine, are working on a new future for this area. This will take shape in the coming 10 to 15 years.

Rolator in WoenselXL_Dave van Hout
Rolator in WoenselXL, foto: Dave van Hout


The ambition is to create a place where the people of Woensel are attracted to. A green, attractive and appealing place where they feel welcome. A place where they can relax, eat, drink, play sports, meet, work, live and shop. A place that perfectly matches the unique character of Woensel and where residents, young and old, local entrepreneurs, social and cultural organisations and creatives all like to contribute to.

But how do you create such a place? The shortest answer is to involve the ‘neighbourhood experts’ as well as the professional experts. In other words, give residents, neighbourhood organisations, local entrepreneurs a voice at the table. They know better than anyone what makes the place unique, what works well, what can be improved and what is still missing.

And that is exactly why we are going to use tools like place branding, placemaking and placetesting for this new ‘heart of Woensel’. Just before the summer, we won the pitch and we officially started this project last week. And that’s where we turned the tables. As a first activity, we organised an excursion under the title ‘Kende Woensel’ especially for the property owners, developers, designers, communication advisors and all other professional experts. We took them away from their desks and put them – quite literally – at the kitchen table of several Woensel residents. And they all had their stories ready.

Op bezoek bij Jan_Dave van Hout
Op bezoek bij Jan. Foto: Dave van Hout


This not only gave the professional experts many new insights and more understanding, but also an enormous list of ideas on how to improve the centre. A number of those tips turned out not only to be very useful, but also to be directly practicable. All proposed by the neighbourhood experts.

As a start of the place branding process, in the coming weeks we will take the ‘Woenselse Waffelbus’ foodtruck to the various neighbourhoods of Woensel. Here, in exchange for a waffle, we ask Woensel residents their opinion on what is typical for Woensel and what the future ‘heart of Woensel’ should look like. How can we make this a place where they like to come again?

We are just at the beginning of a long process.  Judging by this first meeting with some of the neighbourhood experts, it promises to be an inspiring and fruitful project!

You can follow the project process via our website, Instagram and LinkedIn.


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