Back in the days, in the northwest area of Utrecht known as the Werkspoorkwartier trains and bridges used to be built. After the departure of the industry in 1980, the Municipality turned the Werkspoorkwartier into a business park. Although from time to time smaller and larger companies moved to the site, the Werkspoorkwartier became an empty industrial heritage zone.
Utrecht’s rapid growth in recent years has had a positive effect on the area. In particular, the efforts of creative entrepreneurs and developers have started to gradually transform this historic urban area (HUA) into a 21st-century maker district in recent years. The Municipality of Utrecht supported the sustainable redevelopment of heritage buildings and the set up of creative hotspots, ranging from low-budget workshops, to high-end workspaces for game developers and architects. A lot has been done, but more efforts are required to transform the HUA into an innovative district.
The HUB-IN project is vital to the Werkspoorkwartier area, transforming it into a hub for creative industries and cultural activities, boosting entrepreneurship and collaboration – Eva Oosters, Deputy Major of Culture
Utrecht’s HUB-IN is located in the Werkspoorkwartier. It aims at contributing to the redevelopment of this post-industrial area into a cultural and creative neighbourhood. The action plan follows from a roadmap that the city has previously co-created with local stakeholders to identify the overall vision, values and missions. The result is the commitment to implement the following 4 actions:
Action 1 – Turning the business association Bedrijvenkring Cartesiusweg (BKC) into a HUB for the HUA – aims to set up a community of creative entrepreneurs to seek opportunities to add jobs to the area, preserve affordable workspaces, and support cultural facilities. The goal is to professionalise the BKC – now run by volunteers – and improve its execution capacity and, in collaboration with the municipality, develop a HUB so it addresses the challenges identified.
Action 2 – Initiate an art programme in the HUA – strives to launch an art programme in the HUA in the form of an acceleration programme. The plan is to create an open call for artists and creative entrepreneurs active in the HUA to realise artistic products and services able to combine the history of the HUA with its new, modern tale. This will lead to a more accessible and attractive HUA for citizens, create ties in the HUA, and support local cultural entrepreneurs to professionalize their business practices.
Action 3 – Boost innovation and creativity via talent development programs – wants to provide young skilled artists and creative workers with talent development programmes in the HUA. Workers will then be able to further develop their craft, professionalize their Utrecht Action Plan businesses, learn entrepreneurial skills, craft scalable products and by doing so create sustainable businesses.
Action 4 – Develop blueprints for widely applicable governance structures for hubs in the HUA and Utrecht in general – has the ambition to generate valuable insights into effective governance for creative hubs and establish a model governance structure. Throughout the HUA (and across the city of Utrecht), there is a widely recognized demand for the formulation of governance frameworks applicable to both existing and new cultural hubs. This arises from governance challenges in Utrecht, particularly in how tenants in these spaces collaborate and establish a financially sustainable business model for the entire hub.
Learn more about the project here.
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