The Woensel shopping centre in Eindhoven is ready for a new future. With the development of the placebrand 'Heart of Woensel', we answer the question of what the place will mean in the future for all its users. In addition to the professional experts, we also involved more than 600 community experts.

Shopping centre Woensel in Eindhoven is ready for a new future. Housing corporations, the municipality, real estate owners and entrepreneurs have been working since last year on a development vision for this new heart of Woensel. But what exactly does this new heart entail and what should the place mean for all its users in the future? A placebrand offers answers.

Developing a placebrand is essentially co-creative. It is about finding out the unique identity of a place, its soul so to speak, together with all the people involved in the place in question. In addition to professional experts this also means a major role for community experts; entrepreneurs, residents and representatives of civil society organisations. People who live, work, learn, shop and do business in the place know it like no other. They are therefore also best to interpret its unique qualities and distinctiveness.

So for us, together with local creative agency Yellow Sunshine, it was important to go and find the ‘soul’ of this place. And also to bring Woensel and the development team a bit closer together. So we took the team to the houses of several Woensel residents. Our next step was our community event The Waffelbus. In exchange for a freshly baked waffle, we asked residents about their dreams, ambitions and ideas. Over 600 people, of all ages and cultural backgrounds, gave their opinions.

We compared these opinions with the opinions, ideas and ambitions of the development team. In this, we saw quite some overlap but also some differences. In three live co-creation sessions, we arrived at a jointly created and widely supported placebrand. This was visually summarised on an urban canvas. This document shows the core values, the shared ambition for the future and the motives to visit the place. Together, these elements form the place brand; a brand that is distinctive compared to other places in Eindhoven and beyond. Due to the high involvement of the community experts, the brand is also authentic and therefore credible.

A placebrand is much more than a marketing tool. A placebrand forms the strategic basis for the entire development vision. It serves as a compass throughout the entire (re)development and also as a ‘brand filter’ in the choice of programme, physical interventions, new tenants, activities, etc. Everything we do must fit the chosen core values and contribute to the joint future ambition.

So too in Woensel. In the coming years, the placebrand ‘Heart of Woensel’ will come to life in the physical environment, in the offering and programming, in communication and marketing, but especially in how all stakeholders work together.

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