Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

Discovering the Significance of Housing Neighbourhoods by Assessing Their Attributes With a Digital Tool

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Abstract:  Much of the building stock subjected to the upcoming European Renovation Wave is neither listed as heritage nor considered valuable architecture. This also applies to Dutch housing built between 1965 and 1985, more than 30% of the Dutch housing stock, for which there is no consensus on their cultural significance. Their successful renovation process requires broad support. What attributes do citizens consider significant in their neighbourhood? How do we include a multitude of stakeholders? And can digital methods help collect and process responses? This article reveals significant attributes of residential neighbourhoods from 1965 to 1985, assessed by various stakeholders with a digital tool based on case studies in Amsterdam and Almere. A mobile application allowed individuals to identify significant attributes at various scales while visiting the neighbourhood. By qualitative data analysis of survey and interview results, groups of tangible and intangible attributes were deduced. Results show that identifying attributes by current stakeholders broadens existing expert-led assessments on 1965–1985 neighbourhoods by including, for example, generic attributes not originally intended by the designers. Asking open-ended questions is considered essential to identify undiscovered attributes by alternative stakeholders, although dealing with large numbers of responses is recognised as a challenge to cluster and classify. Lastly, the mobile application appears to be a useful digital tool, but integrating scientific consistency and usability is recommended for further development. Engaging multiple stakeholders with such mobile applications allows for collecting opinions, anticipating conflicts, or shared interests between stakeholders and integration into renovation designs. It can empower citizens to preserve the neighbourhood attributes that are most significant to them.

Keywords:  cultural significance; heritage attributes; housing neighbourhoods; post-Second World War architecture; participation



© Lidwine Spoormans, Wessel de Jonge, Darinka Czischke, Ana Pereira Roders. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.