‘The Site is a meeting point for local residents, different population groups and nationalities and people of different ages. This kind of meeting place is created not only by providing the necessary infrastructure (including a 3000 m² urban horticulture plot, mini kitchen gardens, a multi-purpose sports terrain, containers to provide material storage and work space, etc.), but also by developing projects with appropriate content (relating to both the neighbourhood and beyond).
‘To offer every possible opportunity to make the project a success and guarantee maximum sustainability of the results and effects in/on the neighbourhood and existing (or future) neighbourhood organisations and activities, widespread support is required from within the neighbourhood and at city level. However, the project would not make much sense without extensive participation from local residents and users. Participation in/support for the Site is layered. The aim is to achieve maximum interaction and cross connection between the different layers and thus interlink various types of expertise, knowledge and experience (i.e. professionals, volunteers, residents, users, workers). This will create a basis for the development of co-ownership and co-production.’
Samenlevingsopbouw Gent offers expertise and independent support to promote the participation of population groups in society, with a particular focus on socially vulnerable groups. This organisation helps them acquire basic rights and develop solutions for collective problems, by mobilising all stakeholders in this process, with the overall objective of creating a sustainable society. Samenlevingsopbouw Gent vzw concentrates on three key social tasks:
A project such as the Site aims to create the right conditions for pleasant, safe, sustainable and harmonious residential and living environments in relevant areas. Conflicts of interest between people are taken into account and the focus is on 'upward social mobility' rather than 'social mix'.
The creation of a 'liveable environment' involves both physical and social dimensions. The physical dimension refers to the material aspects of the residential and living environment (infrastructure, layout, environment, etc.), whereas the social dimension refers to the living climate – in a broad sense – of a residential and living environment (society, local services and provisions, safety, etc.).
Civil participation, particularly at neighbourhood level, is in our opinion an essential factor for long-lasting improvement of the urban residential and living climate. After all, this participation implies that residents get involved in the maintenance and protection of their own environment. Low level civil participation within this concept is a significant cause of urban decay. As people increasingly start to feel that they have a stake in their living environment, they can be approached with a request to participate in the organisation of this environment. Participation can be encouraged by giving residents a role to play in the open space, by organising activities and projects with input from them.
“Temporary fulfilment” as is the case with the Site effectively creates a link with the future Tondelier living project that will be built at the same site. A bond is created with a physical location, where structural work can be undertaken at a later stage.