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Design approach for social transitions

Turning complex change into something understandable by experimenting in policy implementation.

Object fornuis in de wijk Reyeroord in Rotterdam.

The Netherlands faces societal challenges that impact everyday life. How do you turn a complex change into a social transition (understandable and accessible)? At Klokgebouw we present the lessons learned from two years of a design approach with the city of Rotterdam within the energy transition.

Why a design approach in transitions?

A transition is a long-term process full of uncertainties. There is not only one solution for this. There are often major differences between residents and the system. Residents are expected to change their behavior. Not everyone has the ability to change (at the same pace ). Thereby, many residents are not directly concerned with the topics of the transitions. It is therefore important to understand the perception of residents. A design approach helps bridge these worlds step by step. It is not about designing the "perfect" intervention. But it is about learning from experimenting and thereby achieving social and effective implementation of policies.

By experimenting you learn what the process needs. This approach involves alternating between understanding the context of residents and the broader context of the system in which a transition. A design approach contributes to coping with the uncertainties and complexities of transitions.

Designing interventions for transition processes - Four lessons from the neighborhood Reyeroord

Reyeroord (neighborhood in Rotterdam) must be free of natural gas by 2035. This is a big step for both the municipality and the residents. To ensure mutual understanding around this big change, all kinds of interventions were designed and tested for two years, such as street-talks, red objects out on the streets and an outdoor cinema. This is how we learned how to bring this transition that is far away from residents to something understandable and accessible.

At Klokgebouw we present the intervention 'Red Objects'. The three objects were on the streets for the past two years to make the energy transition visible to residents and with the aim of letting residents experience that something is about to happen. During DDW 2023, we will show what lessons we as a team have learned from this design approach. Using the intervention Red Objects, we will take you through these lessons learned:

1. Make the bridge to the local context;
2. Design with and within the organization;
3. Dare to review whether the approach is effective;
4. Activate behavior in stages.

Getting started with a design approach for your transition? Sign up for our seminar!

In addition to the exhibition at Klokgebouw, we will host a seminar on Thursday afternoon, October 26. During the seminar we will show how, as a policymaker or policy implementer, using a design approach, to translate abstract concepts into concrete results using a design approach. In order to actively involve residents in issues such as energy transition.
During the workshop we will work on how to design resident-focused interventions and how to measure their impact. Furthermore, we will take you through the importance of collaboration between the municipality and designers and how to integrate the design approach into the organizational structure so that it creates sustainable change.
Register for the seminar at the following link:
Or send an e-mail to

About Zeewaardig, city of Rotterdam and Kickstad

In Reyeroord, a team of Zeewaardig, Noorderwind and Kickstad worked together for the municipality of Rotterdam. Seaworthy applies service design to enable ordinary people and organizations to work together on complex questions. Kickstad is committed to sustainable urban development. Integral area development and associated transitions result in complex tasks. Together we believe a fairer and more sustainable world will come closer if our clients start to think and act more like designers.

Object radiator in de wijk Reyeroord in Rotterdam.

Object douche in de wijk Reyeroord in Rotterdam.

De energietransitie-toolbox

Strijp-S area, Klokgebouw | Hall 1, Klokgebouw 50 , Map No. C1
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Fully Wheelchair Accessible
Toilets available