Stronghouse kicks off from home

25 March 2020 - Published by Deirdre Buist
As the world gradually adapts to the limitations of the Corona virus shutdown, we are also taking full advantage of the possibilities of digital communication. The Stronghouse kick-off conference took place on 17th - 18th March – but not quite as planned. Just days before, it became clear that travelling and large events were becoming high-risk. And so, for most partners Stronghouse started unexpectedly from home!

A two-day digital conference is quite a challenge – we too experienced the conference call video-audio charade - but the partners proved to be patient, willing and able, which has certainly benefited the cohesion of our new collaboration. Under the diligent directorship of project coordinator Hein Braaksma, the participants were guided through the conference programme. Following an introduction to the managerial and administrative requirements of the NSR Interreg Programme, kindly provided by Jesper Jonsson of the Joint Secretariat, each partner had the opportunity to present on their region, organization, existing best practices and impacts.


Some noted ‘soundbites’ from the partner presentations regarding sustainable housing for strong communities:

  • Finding the right energy solutions for the right homeowners – affordable for everyone

  • Using persuasive, creative communication with citizen participants – word of mouth, end-user approach

  • Understanding the behaviour of citizens, of homeowners

  • Educating and training, monitoring and evaluating process and results

  • Retrofitting and upgrading (particularly challenging with historic/listed buildings)

  • Understanding new materials and using different scenarios

  • Reducing fuel poverty and carbon emissions

Getting Agile

On Day 2 of the conference the partners were treated to an inspirational online workshop on Agile Methodology, given by Michael Dommershuijzen. Michael (also working from home and sporadically assisted by his wife) provided background and some great guidelines and tools for human centred innovation, design-thinking, creating prota persona and ideation. His ‘Let’s Renovate the Bathroom’ exercise was a fun  way to keep the group’s activated attention. The Agile approach will be particularly relevant during the course of the Stronghouse project.


Strong start

Despite the situation, we can say that Stronghouse has got off to a strong start. This is one of many projects co-funded by the NSR Interreg Programme working on sustainable solutions for the multiple challenges we are currently facing on a global level. Our flexibility and adaptation to the precautionary and preventative measures needed as a result of the Corona pandemic has also underlined the strengths of our transnational collaborations. Working together for a common goal works!

We are ready and looking forward to taking the next steps.


Time for a first  Stronghouse group photo.