Brainport Smart District (BSD), a new neighborhood in Helmond with high ambitions. Its main ambition is to develop an adaptive neighborhood that serves as a model for future smart and healthy living, in which inclusion, social cohesion and participation are central. The BSD neighborhood aims to become the smartest neighborhood in the world: by integrating spatial, social, and technological strategies towards systematic changes. This should ensure that BSD develops into a social and attractive neighborhood in which will be investigated if the population experiences better physical and mental health than in neighborhoods with a similar population elsewhere. The BSD neighborhood is set up as living lab. This means that effects of the measures taken and innovations developed to improve the health of the residents can immediately be investigated in daily practice. The Brainport Smart District Foundation (a collaboration between universities, municipality, province, and Brainport Region) was established for the development and realization of this new neighborhood. The Foundation works with seven program lines: (1) attractive and circular neighborhood, (2) participation, (3) social and safe neighborhood, (4) healthy neighborhood, (5) digital neighborhood, (6) mobile neighborhood and (7) neighborhood with energy. The neighborhood BSD serves as research case in the project ‘GEzonde sLimme wIJKen’ (GELIJK).
In its first phase (2018-2019), the ‘GELIJK’ project has developed ‘the compass towards a healthy smart environment’ (abbreviated to ‘The Compass’), which is the knowledge agenda for this project. A smart environment refers to the integration of technology in the living environment. The aim of The Compass is to guide the development of integral (spatial-social-technological and between sectors) solutions for a new inclusive neighborhood, contributing to social cohesion and health. Various knowledge sources were used to develop The Compass. The ‘social neighborhood’ emerged as the most important type out of ten types of healthy neighborhoods, as described by the Platform Gezond Ontwerp (2013). The types ‘green’, ‘physical active’, ‘clean’ and ‘safe’ neighborhood are seen as preconditions for a social neighborhood. Also, by conducting interviews (n=10) and workshops (n=14) with various stakeholders, such as future residents, policy officers and stakeholders from practice, in-depth knowledge was gained of what the social neighborhood entailed for them. It turned out that, next to a ‘social neighborhood’ the new neighborhood should also be ‘inclusive’. Inclusive was considered as a broader concept than ‘social’ for the stakeholders. According to them, a social neighborhood would primarily focus on people, while an inclusive neighborhood would also focus on the connection between people and the spatial environment. Given this focus, linkages between The Compass and the BSD foundation can be seen in the program lines ‘social and safe neighborhood’, ‘participation’ and ‘healthy neighborhood’ of the Foundation BSD.
The main question of The Compass is as follows:
How does the design of the spatial environment and the design of the integral collaboration of an inclusive neighborhood contribute to social cohesion and health in the new neighborhood Brainport Smart District?
In phase two, by working towards an inclusive neighborhood, we aim for a neighborhood that is suitable and therefore accessible for a large group of residents. To achieve this, the emphasis of the research in this second phase is on involving vulnerable groups in society, such as groups with a low socio-economic background or groups with a chronic physical and/or mental disability. By doing so, the next step can be made to investigate whether an inclusive neighborhood can reduce socioeconomic health inequalities.
The aim of the research project (phase 2) is to develop (design) strategies in the area of spatial planning for the neighborhood of BSD (including (smart) housing types, facilities, encounters and place making (i.e. organizing social settings in which pe