Triodos Bank’s Executive Board provides a perspective on the wider world it operates in, its impact and activity in 2017 and its prospects for the future.
What was the challenge for this project?
Panningen, a town in the South of The Netherlands, is home to the Ringoven, a former brickworks. The factory closed in 1989, contributing to a general decline in the town’s quality of life in the following years. Increasingly more social services disappeared from the town. But the listed brickworks was renovated and redeveloped and has been a buzzing meeting place since 2014.
The Ringoven offers space to different social organisations. For instance, there’s an agency that organises work for people with learning difficulties. Day-care and activities are provided for older people with dementia, and there is after-school childcare. A social business, Rendiz, also provides hospitality services and rents out venues.
How is the approach of the project innovative?
The different social and commercial organisations based there jointly carry out and support the Ringoven’s goals. They turn the building into the heartbeat of the town and its surroundings. The initiators of the redevelopment have succeeded in connecting all these organisations with one another. And they have done it in a commercially successful way: the Ringoven – as part of Rendiz – combines hospitality with letting property to social initiatives, and offers day-care activities, all of which generates income. The project is a classic example of innovative social entrepreneurship.
What impact does Triodos Bank have on this project?
Triodos Bank financed the internal refurbishment of the building. But its involvement goes further. Triodos Bank is a key partner of Rendiz, the initiator of the redevelopment. The bank thinks with it about the funding potential of similar Rendiz projects in other parts of the province.
What impact does the project have on the sector?
The great strength of the Ringoven is the housing of organisations from different sectors, such as healthcare, education and hospitality. The project shows that this integrated approach can be successful. A listed building like the Ringoven is expensive to use. Refurbishment into a multifunctional social centre, too, involved a lot of costs. But a monument like this can be profitable if its costs are borne by several parties.
What impact does the project have on society?
The area around Panningen is confronted by different issues, from an ageing and declining population to the decline and disappearance of community services.
The region is not unique in that respect: there are several communities in The Netherlands that face similar problems. But the redevelopment of the Ringoven is a powerful response to them. It contributes to the vitality of the community and social cohesion in the town. The building also serves as a hub and inspiration for other developments. Since the reopening of the Ringoven, different organisations are taking root not only in, but also around, the building. A primary school has now also been established adjacent to the former brickworks. Panningen is alive again.
How does the project share the vision of Triodos Bank?
Triodos Bank contributes to a community’s quality of life. It is committed to increasing individual development opportunities, a caring society, and to strengthening the ecology and environment.
It is logical then that the bank is involved in the Ringoven. After all, the project offers development opportunities to people living some distance to the labour market, education for children, and also contributes to the social cohesion in the town. The hospitality service uses regional and Fairtrade products. And finally, it is a beautiful building – a national monument – conserved for future generations in a revitalised town.