A network of public spaces as a backbone for social cohesion in South Rotterdam

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The continuous immigration around the world increases ethnic diversity in major
cities. At the same time, the growing population, urbanization, and crowding in cities negatively impact well-being, bringing to the forefront the need for integrating restorative environments. In the context of multi-ethnic cities, there is a pressing need for integration to foster social cohesion and well-being. This thesis challenges these issues, with a case study of South Rotterdam, an ethnically segregated multi-ethnic area, with the reported need for improved quality of public space, safer urban environments, and opportunities for developing trust among residents. This thesis illustrates a methodology for designing public spaces that promote ethnic diversity by stimulating inter-ethnic social interaction in restorative environments.
I approach this assignment by proposing a network of public spaces that encourages participation in public life to stimulate social interaction, improving the social cohesion and well-being of residents in the area. To develop the network, I introduced a multi-method approach in both research and design, by integrating computational tools for urban design. Bringing together three disciplines, urban design, landscape architecture, and urban analytics, I propounded specific design strategies for the formation of the network and
the transformation of public space, toward inclusive restorative landscapes that promote diversity.
The outcomes of this project determined that implementing multi-methods approaches in urban design requires careful consideration and acknowledgment of the extent to which each method can be applied. However, there is great potential in advancing knowledge through different perspectives and creating innovative methodologies to approach such projects.
Finally, public space design has a promising opportunity to accommodate places that bring people together and increase feelings of belonging and trust, while embracing diversity. By reimagining the value of the street, I illustrate a strengthened public space that accommodates diverse activities in South Rotterdam, enhancing shared spaces and identity expression in public spaces.