by Tom Bosschaert

Sept. 1, 2010

Tom Bosschaert

Except developed a sustainable conversion and development plan for the post-war social housing area Schiebroek-Zuid in Rotterdam. It applies innovative energy solutions, urban farming, social and economic programs, secondary currencies, and adaptive redevelopment strategies and provides a flexible and exemplary roadmap for enhancing Schiebroek-Zuid's sustainability. Vestia and agricultural research network InnovatieNetwerk commissioned the project.

In this video, the Schiebroek-Zuid project is discussed from about 5:50.

Social housing conversion

As a first of its kind, the Sustainable Schiebroek-Zuid project provides a template approach to converting a commonly problematic housing typology into a beautiful, equitable, resilient, sustainable community. The neighborhood uses proven, standard technologies in innovative ways, combined with 'biological engines' to provide the district with water, electricity, heat, waste processing, and 70% of its food production.

Closed-loop metabolism

The plan combines socio-economic programs and proven technologies to create a closed-loop urban metabolism. All energy and water are locally provided, and most wastes are handled on-site. Local agriculture is the "biological engine" that drives many aspects of the plan, such as energy generation, nutrition, education, recreation, social programs, and local economic activities.

Integrated sustainability

Except drew on its integrated sustainable development approach, Symbiosis in Design (SiD), to develop an extensive set of measures, or 'ingredients,' which can be mixed and matched over time to achieve the end vision. These ingredients were designed in cooperation with stakeholders and residents. SiD facilitates and assures the integration of the many elements of sustainability in a cooperative framework.

Social and economic development

The ingredients include social programs for neighborhood target groups such as the elderly, children, teenagers, immigrants, and entrepreneurs. A marketplace and community center will be central hubs for the new neighborhood activities. Meanwhile, flexible ateliers provide spaces for startup companies to be used as anything from craft workshops to offices and kitchens to storefronts. A local currency has been suggested to encourage local trade and incentivize energy-saving or waste reduction efforts.

Resource self-sufficiency

The area can supply its required electricity and heat by utilizing biogas-fueled power plants, solar installations, and heat capture from rooftop greenhouses.

Edible landscaping throughout the neighborhood can use previously empty lawns while meaningfully connecting residents to their natural surroundings. A vital feature is that it renovates instead of demolishes most of the neighborhood’s existing buildings, reducing both the social disruption and environmental impact typically caused by neighborhood renewals that begin with demolition.

Contractor Vestia will start with implementing several ingredients from the plan. Except hopes, this project will serve as an example for the numerous social housing areas with similar typologies worldwide.

Further information

An in-depth article "Urban Evolution: the Case of Schiebroek-Zuid" was written about Schierboek-Zuid's transformative journey.

For the project, a vision book was developed and an ingredient book, both available for free and open source below (in Dutch). The ingredient book, counting almost 300 pages of details, calculations, examples, and solutions for all project categories.

Sept. 1, 2010

Client & Partners

Project team

  • Jacob Verhaart

    Head of Science, Industrial Ecologist

  • Eva Gladek

    Industrial Ecologist
    Except Integrated Sustainability

  • Ariana Bain

    Industrial & Urban Ecologist
    Except Integrated Sustainability

  • Gerard Vink

    Communication Strategist
    Except Integrated Sustainability

  • Michiel van der Vight

    Senior Associate
    Except Integrated Sustainability

  • Stephanie Bartscht

    Except Integrated Sustainability

  • Hidde van der Lijn

    Photography & Visualisation
    Except Integrated Sustainability

  • Patrick Bellew

    Atelier Ten

  • Han Dijk

    Urban Strategist

  • Stephanie Carlisle

    Environmental Design
    Except Integrated Sustainability

  • Bart Verhagen

    Client Representative
    Estrade / Vestia

  • Peter Oei

    Partner Representative
    Innovatienetwerk / SIGN


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