Stadslab 2050

Making streets more climate adaptive

The innovation lab of the city of Antwerp asked Namahn in 2019 to coach them with two pilot cases. The goal of these two pilot cases was to explore how a street reconstruction could be used as a lever to make the street more climate adaptive.

Namahn used the methodologies from their systemic design toolkit and design coaching to nurture this climate proof change within the city of Antwerp.

Innovation lab of the city of AntwerpNon-profit   English  2 coaches 

Design challenge

With extreme weather conditions, like droughts and floods, being more common and more impactful on our daily lives, the city of Antwerp wants to drastically improve the quality of living in the city. They drafted ambitious plans detailing the role of greenery, water and other climate proof interventions.

The innovation lab was looking for guidance for the pilot cases of the project. This project aimed to make the streets of Antwerp more water permeable, and this in two pilot cases. Namahn has been coaching the project leader for one and a half years – from user research, formulating actions to prototyping, testing, and improving the actions. In the course of this project, the project was named ‘Antwerp breaks out’ fitting within a bigger region-wide program ‘Flanders breaks out’.

The project wanted to develop a participative process to actively involve the street users and residents as experience experts in their street. How can we ensure the benefits outweigh and avoid push-back for a street with more permeable surface and greenery?

 ©Stad Antwerpen


Namahn interviewed diverse neighbours as part of a systemic analysis to identify levers and barriers among citizens, business owners and designers, the results in this research were visualized using a system map and resulted in the change vision: this vision describes a new vision for the design process. Namahn also assisted in the development of a template and manual to achieve a climate proof project definition in co-creation with the crucial stakeholders.

These interventions were tested in the two pilot cases. One of the biggest challenges in the project is the testing and implementation of new methodologies and then share that gained knowledge with colleagues. The guidance and follow-up of the pilot cases therefore mainly focus on these issues, and consists, among others, of (1) periodic boost sessions in which the project teams present to each other and to the strategic steering committee, with the aim of increasing the overall quality and identifying thresholds and gaps, (2) inspiration sessions in which the project teams receive an intensive workshop with experts, and (3) periodic evaluations with the aim of identifying levers and thresholds for anchoring.

Namahn conducted this project as a design coach, supporting the project leader in shaping the process. We organized co-creation workshops and visualized the system map, the change vision and the roadmap. We supported the coaching of the two pilot cases, working out the process coaching for a second set of pilot projects, and collaborating with the project on a city-wide learning network. Namahn helped set-up informal knowledge sharing formats and assisted in stakeholder management throughout.

In the last phase of the project, Namahn coached the project lead to anchor all the learnings of the project permanently in the organisation. Gathering input from designers and team leads to develop an ideal future for climate and future proof design, construction, and maintenance of streets. Continued investment in an innovation culture, active sharing and knowledge development. Some challenges remain but thanks to the buy-in throughout the division and the visible impact of the project, these challenges will be tackled in new projects and working groups on climate.


The city of Antwerp planned to realise over 10.000 m²  of water permeable surface interventions in 2022. There are 3 climate proof streets realised so far with 21 more in the design process of under construction. In the process of Antwerp breaking out, 549 stories of citizens have been collected, 5 different divisions within the city were involved and 18 inspirational sessions with designers and engineers were organised.

©Jeroen Broeckx