Stakeholders' market place organized by the municipality to foster more rich and integrated temporary use initiatives.
Underused buildings | Activating
Source: photos François Jégou, Strategic Design Scenarios
Source: photos François Jégou, Strategic Design Scenarios
Keywords: Temporary use | Participation | Large housing estates | Social Innovation


Ghent city administration facilitated a matchmaking event between local bottom-up initiatives to support the aggregation of richer consortia biding in a call for a 8 months temporary use project of the former city central library.

Key aspects of this process are:

  • The city administration playing a brokering role in order to empower the local ecosystem of initiatives;
  • The city adopting a new role both letting go to the temporary use candidates to organize better proposal themselves and at the same time creating the conditions for this heterogeneous arena of actors to meet, articulate and produce better proposal for the common interest.
  • The matchmaking process bringing new, unsuspected and various creative initiatives together;
  • The event showing the existing dynamic of initiatives, pioneers in the city looking for space;


The core of the matchmaking workshop is the temporary use of the old library in the city Ghent, which will remain empty for some months before being redeveloped in offices for the municipality.


The city searched for 1 coordinator who would propose a concept for the overall temporary use of the empty library, a  good business plan to pay for heating/electricity expenses and a management process during 8 months. 


In order to find this coordinator the city has facilitated a matchmaking event bringing 147 potential initiatives together, so they could meet, create alliances, and form a consortia, in order to meet the challenge of occupying collectively the space of more than 6700 m² of the old library. On the matchmaking event, potential coordinators could promote themselves and search for new projects for their bids.


Matchmaking process

The process of finding a temporary use candidate started 4 months before the beginning of the period of vacancy. In the process was included a visit to the former library for all candidates, a digital platform for all kind of questions, and activation of the potential bottom-up initiatives through social media in order to connect to each other, all was organized by the city. The matchmaking was organised in the evening and the process of matchmaking was very well organized: potential coordinators pitched their projects, concepts and business models on stage. The potential initiatives settled small booths of max. 1 m² to showcase their activities, attract peers, find matches between each other and with one of the coordinators. All initiatives were also listed on a wall with their name, number and space for other initiatives to post invitations and comments.


The atmosphere was created to have a networking event: creative initiatives could meet & connect, beyond the purpose of finding a space for the library, and also various departments of the city administration connect with new creative initiatives. The momentum was created then and is still going-on.


The network event, facilitated by the City, brought new and creative initiatives together to build a strong proposition to use and manage an empty place. 

The city administration plays a brokering role creating the opportunity of matchmaking and lets it go to the bottom-up initiatives.

The network event creates the momentum that is still going on. This existing network continues in finding matches for new projects and has created links within the administration.

The network event created a very efficient way of increasing the quality and relevance of bids for the Temporary use of the library.

The networking effect, the links within the administration and between the projects reached out beyond the creation of the effective winning consortium: initiatives that not take a role in the empty library, have found other matches and projects.


City information

Population size: 251-500 th
Population development dynamics within the city administrative limits (at the time of the project): Growing
Population development dynamics of the functional urban area (at the time of the project): Growing
Website of the city:

Project information

Project territorial scale: Municipality (city/town/suburb)
Project geographical area: City centre
Project/building proportions: Over 1000 sqm; Project Area: No data/not applicable
Project main actors: City Government; NGO, Philanthropy; Cultural, creative organisation, non-commercial private sector
Project dominant property ownership: Public
Project development stage (at the time of description): Completely finished
Project duration: 6 months to 2 years
Project starting date: 2015-2018

Project references (web pages, social media or press publications)

Article on the various REFILL matchmaking process:; Video on the matchmaking event:;

Contact Person

e-mail address of Emma Tydgat, Ghent city administration