Elyze Storms-Smeets special associate professor of cultural heritage and spatial participatory development in collaboration with the municipality of Westerveld

Published on
February 17, 2021

Wageningen University & Research (WUR) and the municipality of Westerveld are jointly aspiring to establish a special chair for the scientific development of methods for cultural heritage and spatial participative development. Co-funding has been assigned from the Heritage Deal programme. The special associate professor will start on 1 April for five years.

The reason to develop a special chair is the changing living environment and its significance for local communities. Changes such as climate adaptation, energy transition, urban growth and shrinkage have a major impact on the living environment and heritage in the Netherlands. Society wants to be ready for these transitional challenges of the future. Questions are: how can we turn municipalities with a rich cultural heritage into a sustainable, life-course-proof society? Via local workshops, the chair wants to answer this question together with the Westerveld society and then share this with other municipalities and the heritage sector.


Sanda Lenzholzer, chair holder of landscape architecture, says: “In the past, WUR trained or employed people with big names in the field of more recent cultural heritage and landscape. Unfortunately, all these people have left or retired. As a result, we no longer have this expertise, which is important to WUR. With this new special chair in formation, we can revive this theme of cultural heritage and landscape and also give a new twist to participatory and design methods."

Heritage for spatial tasks

The chair is being set up partly with financial support from the Heritage Deal, a partnership between various ministries and consultative bodies. It supports municipal or provincial projects in which heritage is used for spatial and social tasks such as climate adaptation and energy transition. The ambition of the Heritage Deal is to jointly create a valuable living environment that has been carefully designed, in which the past is tangible and can serve as inspiration for the future.

Appealing examples

The Heritage Deal programme office is looking for appealing examples of places that are about to change and where heritage plays a significant role. The collaboration project of the municipality of Westerveld and WUR is one of these. The project is seen as a great opportunity to link education to the Heritage Deal and to ensure that future generations become familiar with the role of heritage in current transition themes.


Thanks to contributions from partners such as the province of Overijssel, the province of Fryslân, the municipality of Steenwijkerland, the Drents-Overijsselse Delta water board, the Ministry of the Interior and subsidies from the Regional Deal and the EDR, the funding of the future special chair is already guaranteed. As an initiator, the municipality of Westerveld also makes a substantial contribution to the realization. Thanks to the contribution from the Heritage Deal, the programme and the objective of the position can now be broadened and strengthened.