by Tom Bosschaert

May 24, 2022

Tom Bosschaert

An update from UCo, our headquarters in Utrecht, where we are enjoying time together again and can appreciate the almost summery days in our sunlit office. We've been busy these past few months…

First of all, we're excited to tell you that we opened a brand new Except office in Vietnam. It supports us with on-the-ground movements in Ho Chi Minh City and toward developing Orchid City and ViCo, our new sustainability center modeled after UCo.

In regards to our innovation communities, we recently welcomed Vietnam’s Ambassador to the Netherlands, Pham Viet Anh, to explore UCo. We showed him the ins and outs of what a fully functioning sustainability community looks like. We also shared and discussed our similar challenges in climate-adaptive water management.

Elsewhere in the world, our work continues toward developing sustainable buildings and communities in Japan, Portugal, and Suriname. We've also joined a consortium to create a community-led sustainable food system in Uganda. Exciting times!

Back to the Netherlands again, and one of the first projects to use Orchid City's knowledge base has been completed. This new village masterplan, located in Middelburg municipality, is capable of 100% self-sufficiency in fresh produce, energy, and gray water reuse. How's that for acting local!

Last but not least, we celebrated the green light for construction of the awaited UNESCO Waddenzee World Heritage visitor center and were over the moon to see the grand opening of our award-winning climate-adaptive park design for Roosendaal.

Enjoy the rest of this newsletter. The team at Except wish you a fantastic remainder of spring and that you share our eagerness for the approaching summer.

New partners strengthen Orchid City network

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Orchid City, our framework for self-sufficient cities and neighborhoods, is making significant progress. After launching publicly just a few months ago, we are actively seeking locations to execute this global and unique sustainable city model.

Several new partners have recently joined, bringing the network up to nearly 20 international collaborators. We’re excited to welcome new partners such as Royal HaskoningDHV and Creabitat, as well as Neuromagic Amsterdam.

We have several other potential partners in negotiation, as well as ongoing talks with capital investors to fund the project for the long term. Stay tuned for some big news on that front.

Read more about Orchid City

Grand opening of Roosendaal’s climate-adaptive Stadstuin van Hasselt park

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In March, the municipality of Roosendaal held a grand opening for Stadstuin van Hasselt, a new climate-adaptive urban garden. Except redesigned the dull and underused parking lot for systemic sustainability, which always ensures a beautiful, functional, and biodiverse space.

This park’s design received the Lighthouse Award in 2021, given to projects that raise the bar to master new challenges to sustainability. Some of the features at the park include amphitheaters for small-scale performances or classes and the vast meandering wadi. Not only does it look amazing but it can absorb and retain up to 1000m3 of rainwater.

The park is constructed with reused elements, hollowed-out bricks, and spaces in the garden walls for amphibians, bats, and birds to find refuge and call home. Divided into distinct biodiverse zones, the garden’s trees, plants, and low-lying greenery are now beginning to flourish in their new home.

Learn about the climate-adaptive urban garden

Sint Laurens Village: A sustainable masterplan for Middelburg


The Netherlands faces challenges in expanding housing and ensuring sustainability of its current stock. By 2030, it is estimated that the population will be about 19 million and will be in need of an additional 800,000 new homes.

Via a grant for Stimuleringsfond, in cooperation with the municipality of Middelburg, we recently proposed a new masterplan for a 256 ha Orchid City to improve systemic sustainability for the village of Sint Laurens.

The integrated masterplan addresses housing, water, energy, food, education, and community functions, including new community spaces and 120 new homes. The park helps develop an inclusive community and minimizes the village’s carbon footprint.

The concept is tightly intertwined with the unique local ecosystems and introduces measures to address groundwater salinity, regeneration agriculture and ecosystems, biodiversity, and sustainable, clean energy.

Read about our services for the built environment

Wadden Sea World Heritage Centre to open in 2024

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After six years in development, the municipality Het Hogeland has approved construction of the €29 million Wadden Sea World Heritage Center set on the UNESCO heritage-listed Wadden Sea.

Except worked with over 20 stakeholders and ran the process from idea and concept development, to a fully supported investible program and concept design ready for architect selection that aims to attract over 250,000 visitors a year.

To help realize this sustainable, circular economy project, initiated by Zeehondencentrum Pieterburen and the province of Groningen with Staatsbosbeheer, Except collaborated with the municipality of Het Hogeland (at the time: de Marne), and the Exploitatiemaatschappij Haven Lauwersoog.

Learn about the Wadden Sea World Heritage Center

Connecting Rooms podcast: reframing the way we think about sustainability


Last month Tom Bosschaert joined Sircle Collection’s Laura Nolte for a playful podcast on reframing sustainability.

Join Tom as he shares how companies can make an effective action plan, why he started Except, and outlines one of the most impactful things an individual can do toward enhancing sustainability. Spoiler: it's not planting a tree or selecting a “sustainable” peanut butter.

They also discuss climate anxiety and the misplaced guilt some people feel - often induced by the companies who are actually responsible for most of our emissions. To quote Laura, the host: “you’ll leave feeling enlightened, rather than panicked.”

Listen to the podcast here

Vietnam’s ambassador to the Netherlands visits UCo

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In April, we welcomed the Vietnamese Ambassador, Mr. Pham Viet Anh, and his team to our UCo headquarters in Utrecht. We discussed Vietnam's challenges and opportunities in tackling the climate change effects and potential new approaches to managing water.

Despite it’s vulnerabilities, by enhancing a desire to collaborate and innovate, bolster global networks, and continue to attract funding, will help pave the way to achieving their bold National Green Growth Strategy 2021-2030. We believe Vietnam are perfectly poised to take advantage of their strengths and become regional leaders in sustainable development.

Read about the Vietnamese Ambassador’s visit

Our Vietnamese-based team develops ViCo

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You’ve probably heard our Vietnamese team (pictured above) is developing ViCo in Ho Chi Minh City. A innovation community and sustainability, it will be a sister community to UCo in Utrecht, the Netherlands. At 3000m2, she will be significantly larger!

Providing a home for up to 300 members, ViCo will connect socially and environmentally-driven members and companies in Vietnam and Southeast Asia. In turn, this will bolster global collaboration, exponentially enhance sustainability outcomes, and attract new investment networks.

It’s currently getting local attention. Vietnamese Investment Review recently published an article on ViCo. It outlines key details of the sustainability community and how Except is currently seeking new partners and investors to join and help raise US$3million in funding.

Learn about ViCo

Miss the Orchid City Launch?

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Did you miss our Orchid City launch last November? It was an interesting launch and we were thankful to be joined by Wouter van Dieren, co-author of the Club of Rome's Limits to Growth report. He knows volumes about systems and development and, on the day, shared with our audience what he thinks our civilization needs, his hopes for the planet, and why he believes the time for an Orchid City is now.

Members of Except, urban planner Eranda Janku, technology and research specialist Ruben Bosschaert and the regional director of Asia Chi Nguyen, also contributed. These young leaders have bold insights on how we connect and how our environments can make room to redefine entire systems for change to occur. They played an important role in designing Orchid City’s affordable and self-sufficient community.

Watch the launch here

Reimagining a circular Chemalot Industrial Park

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Except's Tom Bosschaert and Eranda Janku's five-month "Circularity in City and Landscape" studio, which focused on integrated sustainability and industrial symbiosis, has officially ended. To celebrate, they welcomed their class of 12 master’s students from Fontys University Academy of Architecture & Urbanism to share their final presentations at UCo.

The studio’s major project was a redesign of Chemelot Industrial Park in Limburg and how to best design and integrate systemic interventions. The students focused on a range of topics and sustainable implementations, such as enhancements to urban living, interventions to energy transitions, and circularity roadmaps.

Read more here

Sign up for future Except Integrated Sustainability newsletters.

Till next time, keep an eye on our LinkedIn for updates. Or if you're ever in the neighborhood, stop by UCo for a coffee and a chat.

May 24, 2022

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