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On 27 October 2017, Het Nieuwe Instituut hosted a consortium meeting of Cities of Making, a European project asking the what, where, and how of 21st-century urban manufacturing. Het Nieuwe Instituut is one of the partners collaborating with the Department of Urbanism of the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, TU Delft, in envisioning what the spatial conditions of re-industrialization might look like in the cities  Brussels, London, and Rotterdam.

Cities of Making: Resources for Activating New Urban Industry Through Technology, Spatial Design and Transition Governance (ERA-NET Co-fund Smart Urban Futures programme funcaded project) explores opportunities for strengthening urban based manufacturing in European cities following years of decline and offshoring. Using a combination of strategic and action research, the project’s ambition is to identify what works in supporting a resilient and innovative industrial base, and to test those solutions in a real-world setting. Cities of Making learns from experiences in London, Rotterdam and Brussels – each with a distinct industrial heritage. By the end of the project, it will have developed ideas, practices and policies focusing on public authorities (and many other relevant stakeholders) to breathe new life into their manufacturing communities. 

The aim of the meeting at Het Nieuwe Instituut was to compare and discuss with the diverse stakeholders in Rotterdam the results from the city based research carried out to date. This framed the research and more specific themes to focus on during subsequent phases of the project, and helped to synthesise content for a series of city reports that are being developed through co-creation. The goal of these city reports is to deepen public knowledge of how manufacturing within Rotterdam, Brussels and London has evolved since 1945; to define current policy and objectives for industry connected to making; and to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the manufacturing industry in the three cities and highlight potential threats and opportunities on the horizon.

The meeting brought together members of the many organizations that are part of the project. These included representatives from the main project partners (Brussels Enterprises Commerce and Industry, Latitude Platform for Urban Research and Design, Technical University of Delft, The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, l’Université libre de BruxellesUniversity College London, Vrije Universiteit Brussel), the local social partners in the Rotterdam region (Gemeente Rotterdam, Stadshavens Rotterdam, Greenport Westland Oostland, Province Zuid Holland, Het Nieuwe Instituut); as well as members of other public bodies in Brussels.

Delany Boutkan, Marten Kuijpers, Klaas Kuitenbrouwer, Setareh Noorani
Alex Walker