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.

The challenge

Woensel shopping centre in Eindhoven dates back to the 1980s and, like many mono-functional shopping centres, is in need of a new future.  Housing corporations, the Municipality, property owners and entrepreneurs have been working on a development vision for this new heart of Woensel since 2021. But what exactly does this new heart entail and what should the place hold for all its users in the future?

A placebrand offers answers here. In developing the placebrand ‘Stads hart Woensel’, we answer the question of what the place will be like in the future for all its users. For this, we involved not only professional experts but also more than 600 neighbourhood experts. . This strategic positioning then acts as a Northern Light for all stakeholders throughout the development process.

Our approach

For us, developing a placebrand is at its core a co-creative process. This is because it involves finding out the unique identity of a place, its soul, together with all the people involved in the place in question. In addition to the professionals, this also requires involving neighbourhood experts; local entrepreneurs, residents and representatives of civil society organisations. After all, people who live, work, learn, shop and do business in the place are the ones who know it best. They are therefore also best equipped to identify its unique qualities and distinctive character. They know the soul of the place.

So for us, together with the Eindhoven-based agency Yellow Sunshine, it was important to collect the soul of the place in the various neighbourhoods of Woensel. And also to bring the development team and Woensel a bit closer together. So we invited the team to the kitchen tables of several Woensel residents for a personal conversation. Then we went into Woensel with the so-called Waffelbus. In exchange for a freshly baked waffle served from a vintage van, we asked Woenselnaren about their dreams, ambitions, and ideas. Over 600 Woenselnaren, of all ages and cultural backgrounds, gave their opinion and came up with ideas for their centre of the future.

The result

We set these views against the opinions, ideas and ambitions of the development team. In these, we saw quite a lot of overlap and also some discrepancies. In three co-creative sessions, we arrived at a collectively created and widely supported placebrand. This was visually summarised on an urban canvas. This shows the core values, the shared ambition for the future and the visiting motives. Together, these elements form the place brand; a brand that is distinctive compared to other places in Eindhoven and beyond. Due to the high level of involvement of neighbourhood experts, the brand is also authentic and consequently credible. And memorable; worth remembering and sharing.

A place brand is therefore 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 should fit the chosen core values and contribute to the joint future ambition.

So also in the case of Woensel. In the next few years, the placebrand ‘Heart of Woensel’ will be brought to life in the physical environment, in the offering and programme, in communication and marketing, but most of all in how all parties collaborate with each other.

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