oPEN Lab and local residents co-create the collective neighbourhood infrastructure

Aug 31, 2023

On 25 April 2023, another interesting interactive session took place at the oPEN Living Lab Genk. This time, the focus was on collective neighbourhood infrastructure, which is scheduled to open next summer. As the oPEN Lab project is not only about energy solutions on an individual level, we are working on a collective energy building in the middle of Nieuw Texas – for and by the neighbourhood. To brainstorm about this energy building, the City of Genk, STEBO, Wonen in Limburg, VITO, Soltech and IMEC – KULeuven joined forces with 22 interested residents from Nieuw Texas and Waterschei to come up with ideas for a communal energy building in the neighbourhood.

During the session, we reflected on the question “What can collective neighbourhood infrastructure mean for me and my neighbourhood?”. We built on the results of the previous co-creation session from 2022 by reviewing previously conceived ideas on the topics mobility, water and green in the neighbourhood and neighbourhood feeling. Participating residents came up with interesting ideas for functions that could have a place in the collective energy building, including: 

  • a collective lending service for (garden) tools; 
  • a laundry room – connected to a rainwater tank – allowing (large quantities of) washing and ironing outside the house;
  • and a communal, electric camionette – charged by solar panels – that residents can take turns using, for example, for moving furniture.

After the session ended, the ideas of the residents were summarised and translated into four captivating visuals by Let’s Go Visual. The visuals acted as a conversation opener and ensured that visitors to the neighbourhood party in June could see at a glance what had been co-created during the session. This provides the opportunity for further reflection and feedback on the ideas created.