The metamorphosis of Stalenstraat to Vallei van Werelden

The City of Genk is in transition, it's going through a long-term process of social and economic restructuring. The closure of the Ford factories had the same effect as the closure of the Mines, causing it had to reinvent itself again as a vibrant city.

In addition to paying attention to issues such as business climate, employment, education, culture, housing and social welfare, it is building a profitable, sustainable trading system.

Today, innovation, cultural and creative entrepreneurship and research are the fundamental ingredients of the 4th socio-economic transition of the region.

Genk is gradually gaining a cosmopolitan profile, with a rich historical mix of different identities.

The city was looking for ways to revitalize the Stalenstraat; not a superficial renovation, but an essential twist is indispensable to revitalize the street and to be part of Genk's transition.

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In order to arrive to the new approach, we formed a team of researchers, consultants and designers to collaborate on the project, involving traders, residents, customers, experts, employees of the City of Genk as well as visitors and key figures from the surrounding area.

We worked in close consultation with a sounding board group set up especially for the project and organized the project along three components: identify, co-design and communicate value.

(A) Identify value:

It encompassed exploration and research into the current and desired profile of Stalenstraat. For this we took an anthropological, economic and urban/technical focus.We also had to pay extra attention to the broader regional context of the street.

(B) Co-creation:

Intense creative workshops with all stakeholder groups and comprehensive follow-up.

Our insights from the research on people's grievances, dreams, aspirations, expectations and desires, informed our creation activities during the project, which finally led to the brand profile: Vallei van Werelden (Valley of Worlds).

It went beyond the commercial and economic dimension of the street.  Numerous subjects came to the forefront through our broader approach: not only the physical infrastructure, but also the underlying social factors such as the multicultural aspects, the historically grown individuality of working together as a group, dealing with different ideas, the search for rejuvenation, the need to broaden and specialize the commercial offer, connectivity, accessibility and circulation in the area, etc.

We started from focal point where the past and future meet, in order to concisely define the direction that the residents, traders and visitors undeniably want to take for “their Stalenstraat”.  

(C) Communicate value:

Everyone got the opportunity to have a taste of what Stalenstraat will become,the brand promise and the brand experience through underlying insights, ideas and concepts. We further explained how this can be achieved through a formula specifically developed for the Vallei van Werelden.

We made a number of designs for physical installations and contemporary activities at macro level to inspire the realization of the project– i.e. to be realized by the community. These were the first realizations agreed and initiated by the city of Genk.

We have deliberately chosen to give rich visuals supported with short descriptive texts as from our experience we learned that people are more inspired by a wide and diverse range of visual materials than by long continuous texts with a limited amount images.

To put it on the right track from the beginning we provided guidance on organization and planning to support the realization of the brand profile.

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A body of knowledge with deep insights of what merchants, residents, and visitors want for their street and surrounding area, what their (unique) strength is.
The vision and strategy on revitalizing Stalenstraat.
A widely supported brand profile of stalenstraat and its surrounding area that is based on a mosaic of experiences from a unique environment (Stalenstraat, Stiemervallei, Thor park) as well as on the four pillars: "Inviting + Welcoming", "Varied + Special", "Sincere + Authentic" and "Connected + Committed".
A playbook explaining the essential principles and guidelines to implement the Vallei van Werelden. It goes further than a classic style guide as it is not limited to graphical elements but also contains the outlines and concrete, elaborated examples of physical expressions, content activities at micro and macro level.
A committed merchants' association to work closely with the city council bringing the brand to life.
The realisation of the first physical expressions and substantive activities in the street and its immediate surroundings.
The first signs of the revival of Statenstraat.
Press coverage
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