Spatial Design Voucher Scheme

The Netherlands is facing big social challenges which have implications at a local and regional level. In 2021, the Fund provided an incentive with its Spatial Design Voucher Scheme to apply spatial design in tackling these challenges and it encouraged an integral approach.

The challenges the Netherlands faces all need to be given attention. For example, the building of a million houses, the adaptation to a changing climate and the switch to sustainable energy, the change to circular agriculture and the construction of new water storage, nature and recreation facilities.

The handling of these challenges will drastically change our living environment and this is, therefore, partly a design challenge. It is thus important that decentralized government bodies and both public and semi-public organizations, such as municipalities, provinces and housing associations, involve designers in developing new visions. To stimulate this, short-term collaborations between government bodies and designers were supported in 2021 through the Spatial Design Voucher Scheme.

short-term incentive

The Spatial Design Voucher Scheme follows from the second Covid support package for the cultural and creative sector and therefore had a maximum duration of one year. The scheme’s objective was to stimulate new forms of commissioning and to strengthen the position of designers during and after the Covid crisis.

Through eight open calls, decentralized government bodies and both public and semi-public organizations were given the opportunity to engage additional manpower from the field of design for the transition challenges they are facing. Using a voucher, they gave specific assignments to spatial designers. The open calls complemented the big challenges set out in NOVI, the National Strategy on Spatial Planning and the Environment:

- space for climate adaptation and the energy transition;
- sustainable economic growth potential;
- strong and healthy cities and regions;
- the future-proof development of rural areas.

The following open calls were launched twice each: Vital Cities and Villages, Sustainable Economy and Space, Future-proof Rural Area and Scope for Climate and Energy.

research by design

Designers often apply research by design in these processes. This method or working method is aimed at developing new spatial visions and design proposals for the future. It answers the question of how you can realize co-creation with those involved, such as civilians, entrepreneurs, experts, organizations and government bodies. It helps to focus on the challenges, to clarify them, to consider and connect the interests concerned, to organize support and to initiate new collaborations, creating scope for integral future perspectives and possible problem-solving approaches, but also for new insights into policy-making by government bodies and market participants.

platform the new space

The results from the Spatial Design Voucher Scheme have been compiled on platform The new space [De nieuwe ruimte]. The platform is a place for exchange of design research, knowledge and experience for all project teams, partners and others interested in the spatial quality of the Netherlands. The 129 supported projects can also be viewed via the publication Transitions! (in Dutch only).