text: Donatella Gasparro
In 2018 Idealis came up with the idea of the Living Lab Droevendaal, ‘a pilot in co-creation to build sustainable student housing at Droevendaal’, according to Idealis. But Resource blogger Donatella Gasparro describes it as ‘blurry matter that has brought some turmoil in the usually peaceful Droevendaal community’; In this week’s blog she shares her fully personal take on it.
Since 2018 already, Idealis, the main student housing provider of Wageningen, came up with the Living Lab Droevendaal, “A pilot in co-creation to build sustainable student housing at Droevendaal in Wageningen”. Here my fully personal take on this whole blurry matter that has brought some turmoil in the usually peaceful Droevendaal community.
If you’ve missed the Resource article from 2018 and this PDF, here’s a summary: Idealis wants to design a pilot for the most sustainable student-housing of the NL, and they want to do it (most likely, basically surely, just recently pretending is open for negotiation) on the Droevendaal land, and with the collaboration of the Droevendaal community.
Now, let’s break this down. Very cool that Idealis wants to pioneer in sustainable building, that’s great, nothing to say. Why this needs to happen in a shared green community space in Droevendaal, and the way they are ‘involving’ the community, is still for me a bit questionable. Sure, Idealis owns the land where Droevendaal is: they can technically do whatever they want, and build an energy-efficient new room on every chicken coop. At the same time, Droevendaal is a special, unique place, that should be preserved and shown off by Idealis as not only a great example of community living but also a wonderful nature-human interaction case (I was reminded Droevendaal is part of the national Dutch ecological network).
Droevendaal is a special, unique place that should be preserved and shown off as a great example of community living and nature-human interaction
Idealis, instead, decided to make use, literally, of the community, for ‘co-creation’ (another beautiful buzzword that seems to work very well in proposals, especially when next to ‘sustainability’). This ‘co-creation’, since the beginning, was included in the plan and given for granted. Tenants, represented by a couple of participants in the Living Lab meetings, have never shown support for the project, as it was planned from the start to happen on the field, an important common space for the community. Nonetheless, Idealis claims that “This idea and pilot is actively supported by Wageningen University and the local community of Droevendaal”, as stated in their latest ACT project description.
The thing is pretty straightforward: why should the community cooperate towards the creation of something they simply don’t want in Droevendaal? And why should they cooperate if Idealis eventually agrees on planning (and building) this thing somewhere else?
To be honest, it’s very frustrating to find ourselves thinking about and wasting energy on these symptomatic manifestations of root problems that, once again, stay unaddressed: an amount of students that goes way beyond the carrying capacity of Wageningen, efficiency and cement coming before humans and trees, the endless growth model we find ourselves in and all that jazz.
Disclaimer: the opinions above are only mine and you’re very welcome to agree or disagree
Donatella Gasparro is a Master’s student in Organic Agriculture. She hails from Italy and currently lives in Droevendaal.