The Urban Leisure & Tourism Lab Rotterdam is Inholland Rotterdam’s first ‘living lab’ and is located in a former bank building next to the Zuidplein shopping centre. It is the place where third- and fourth-year students within the domain Creative Business, researchers, residents and (local) entrepreneurs will work together on issues about how tourism and leisure can make a positive contribution to the city. The kick-off was last week.
The metro rumbles past at a distance of some ten metres. The noise causes Maaike de Jong, teacher-researcher in the Design Thinking research line, to interrupt her story for a few seconds. The renovation of the Zuidplein bus station also shows that this area is undergoing development. And it is precisely with this area development that some of the 43 students – nine of whom are international – from the Tourism Management, Creative Business and Communication programmes will be thinking and creating along with the project. They will complete their free-choice education part with this semester in the lab.
I hardly know Rotterdam
Communication student in The Hague Muna Mohamed consciously chose the lab because she wanted to do something with the city. She is surprised that the lab is in a separate location outside the university. “It is an open building and it feels free here,” she says as another metro passes by. Muna, who lives in Wassenaar and hardly knows Rotterdam, is looking forward to getting to know the Zuidplein area better. Her first impression with the new swimming pool, theatre and library is good.
Mix of studies is fun
Michiel Idelenburg, third-year student International Tourism Management in Diemen, likes the fact that he is going to work with students from different studies. Doing research in the lab was not his first choice, but now he is curious how he can apply his knowledge of tourism to the question: ‘Which concepts can be used to involve residents of the Zuid-Holland area in the development of the leisure economy in Hart van Zuid?
Hoek van Holland as ‘sublab’
The second issue takes place in a completely different part of the municipality of Rotterdam: Hoek van Holland. The other part of the students, together with their partners, are researching the question: ‘How can the development of a four-season seaside resort fit in with the identity and liveability of Hoek van Holland? To get a feel for their field of research, they work one day a week in a smaller lab in the KUZhuis in the beach town.
In the lab, the idea is to experiment, discover and fail. Design Thinking is the guiding principle and the students start with this immediately during the kick-off. They get to work on further decorating the lab. Maaike de Jong emphasises the importance of play in the creative process. Clay, slimy dinosaurs and pompoms are waiting for her on the table.
There is no toilet paper’.
The dressing up and furnishing of the lab is a process of Design Thinking in itself. On 16 August, Iris Kerst received the key to the lab. She is quartermaster for the Urban Leisure & Tourism Lab and arranged the location. In the two weeks before the kick-off, the walls were given a fresh colour (see the magenta pillars and the ‘green screen’) and tables and chairs, a beamer and a screen were installed. “Every day I come across things that still need to be fixed”, Iris laughs. “For example, I just heard from a student that we’re out of toilet paper so I’ll go and get it.”
This article originally appeared on the Inholland website.