Meeting places can provide social cohesion in neighborhoods of great diversity, provided they are designed intelligently. This is what the Knowledge Platform (KIS) Inclusive Community Researchers write.
The increased diversity in a neighborhood can sometimes complicate living together. When backgrounds and styles of living differ, locals are often less able to put one another in. It’s helpful to meet neighbors once in a while, so you can get to know them faster. This is called general familiarity KIS Post “It’s not familiar, but we do run into each other here.”
Accidental, spontaneous and frequent contacts in the living environment enhance recognition and connection between residents. To achieve this, you need to design public spaces intelligently. KIS investigated the functioning of such places in five urban settings: the New Library in Almere, Wijkpark Cromvliet in The Hague, Marketplace in Rotterdam, VerHalenHuis in Tilburg and Powerstation Kanaleneiland in Utrecht. The results of the study show that these five meeting places do indeed contribute to mutual acquaintance and family feeling among visitors.
A number of preconditions are essential to a successful meeting place. For example, there should be different things to do. Such a place must also have many functions, so that local people can visit it for various reasons. It also helps in intelligently planning various activities for different groups of the population, so that they communicate with each other more easily. In addition, the researchers recommend that the place be designed so that it is attractive to all, with sufficient lighting, air, space, and attractive and mobile seating areas.
The report also contains other concrete recommendations for enhancing general knowledge in mixed neighborhoods. For example, the research answers the question of how meeting places in (super)diverse neighborhoods can contribute to building recognition, intimacy, and mutual recognition among neighborhood residents.
Facilitating informal encounters between locals with different cultural backgrounds, ages, and lifestyles, for example, requires careful guidance from professionals and administrators. The researchers also advise that informal encounters should be taken into account in spatial design. “A meeting needs space and clarity, but at the same time it should be a place that exudes homeliness and intimacy.”
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