Last week we addressed the topic of ‘What exactly IS a Sharing City?’. We looked at Amsterdam Sharing City as the subject of our question, and zoomed in on some of the sharing projects, and the beneficial factors for a flourishing sharing ecosystem. Briefly summarized, there is not a straightforward definition, yet we have identified collaboration as key for success of a thriving Sharing City. So, how to you go about that? How to design a Sharing City?


In order to address these questions, we took this challenge to the Ouishare Fest, and together with Shareable, we co-hosted a workshop “Designing a Sharing City” with more than 70 people from all around the world joining us. Instead of giving a presentation about how we co-designed Amsterdam Sharing City, we decided to have people themselves experience what it means to take part in designing a Sharing City. We believe that this is the best reflection of how the design process of a city today takes a multi-stakeholder approach, involving all key actors within the city to deal with complex urban issues.


Nowadays, we see citizens identifying solutions for issues they are facing in their city; and taking action themselves, forming community groups, organizations, social enterprises, or companies. The organizational structures, and legal entities take different forms, yet they all have the aim to create a positive impact on the society that we live in.


These developments have an influence on how roles are shifting. What used to be under the government’s umbrella is now often addressed by city makers. So how should a government behave? Should they be using the energy of the citizens, and facilitate and create space for experimentation? Or should it be a top-down approach? And how would it look like then? Should the private sector be involved or do they have no place in the city design process? All interesting questions for which are no one-size-fits-all answer. So then we come back to the key factor of a successful Sharing City, namely collaboration between all players involved.


Nevertheless, this is often easier said than done. Bringing together different stakeholders around the table can already be quite a challenging task, especially when the contributors to a flourishing Sharing City come from all levels and places in a city.  The next step of actually, reaching common ground as well as concrete actions, can be even more demanding. So why not take the pressure off, and just play!


That’s exactly what we did at the Ouishare Fest: people divided in groups, and without previously being properly introduced, they took on a roll given by the ‘local expert’, or table host. The local expert explained the case they would be working on, a fictional city or district within a city with reality-based urban challenges.


Within their roles, which was completely unrelated to what their role in real life is, they had to come up with a sharing city project to tackle the issues presented in the case. The game includes additional game elements such as inspiration cards, and task cards and they visited a city next door to tap up on inspiration, and maybe even find opportunity for city-to-city collaboration.


The result was incredible with more than 70 attendees from all over the world, strangers to each other and unaware of what the people around their table did in real life; they took on their roles provided to them and co-created realistic and very impressive solutions for some of the city challenges in less than an hour.


Solutions included a bike path to connect a social housing complex in the outskirts with the city-centre, solving issues such as isolation, local economy, transport, etc. Another idea raised, was a childcare centre for tourists where they could bring their children to this local day-care centre providing the opportunity for the tourists and their children to spend the day together with local children, creating a meeting point for both tourists and locals to connect!  A number of ideas were presented, and the best one won a Sharing City Award!


We believe that through adding a game element, a safe place is created for people where they can express their opinions about sometimes sensitive issues. Taking on a different role, contributes to the flow of creativity, and tackles the interpersonal judgement about the ideas people come up with.


shareNL invites you all to play the Sharing City Game in your city, as part of Sharing City Path consisting of several building blocks, guided by local and international experts in the field.

‘I Play in the city with all there is’

By Samantha van den Bos