Student - October 28, 2009

Students find ways to make money for public green spaces

Eighteen students put their heads together in a youth hostel for four days to devise ways to add value to parks and green spaces in Amersfoort. This interdisciplinary workshop was an eye-opener both for the students and the municipality.

The students surveyed Park Randenbroek in Amersfoort on hired bikes.
Place eighteen students from various studies for four days in a youth hostel in Soest. Give them an assignment, throw in some lecture notes, give that a stir, and hey presto! That was the basic idea behind the workshop from 21 till 24 October about value added planning. That means using public green spaces to make more money for the municipal kitty.
The presence and quality of public green in a neighbourhood can influence the value of housing and thus, the property tax. The municipality could incorporate this additional value in land sales prices. During the workshop, the students examined how to revamp a park and a housing estate in Amersfoort so as to cover as much of the costs as possible.
Drawing
For four days long, these future landscape architects, caretakers, property managers and city builders worked together intensively. 'This assignment broadens our outlook of the disciplines in the work area in which we're involved', says Anet Pruisscher, part-time student of outdoor space management at Van Hall Larenstein. 'A planology student from Groningen, for example, found it very unusual that we were making drawings all the time.'
A new facet for students of garden and landscape design was pondering over the quality of green spaces in relation to the sale of houses. 'We don't usually bother about money. We're mainly concerned with making beautiful designs', explains another student.
Inspiration
'Green space is considered to be a bit of a burden in my study because it doesn't bring in money', adds Ton Grashof, student of urban design at the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences. 'The workshop has given us new perceptions, including on financial matters. I've also done more work in four days than I would normally do in ten weeks.'
Despite some playfulness during the handing out of the room keys on the first day, the students were mostly hard at work. 'The last evening saw us working till 11 pm. Sometimes a good idea crops up after a couple of beers', says landscape architecture student Melvin Creemers. 'One of my team-mates had his best inspiration at two o'clock in the morning.' 
Pay
Students were not the only ones who have benefitted from the workshop. When the presentations were over on the last day, Arno Goossens of the Amersfoort Municipality revealed that he too was impressed. 'In our plans, we often build as far as possible from the water because of ecological reasons, whereas you see the very value of living by the water. You could make those at the town hall think again.' This remark elicited a response from one of the students, to the amusement of all: 'You'll have to pay for that, we've just learnt!'

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