We developed a sustainable conversion and development plan for the post-war social housing area Schiebroek-Zuid in Rotterdam. The project provides a flexible and exemplary roadmap for converting the neighborhood into a self-sufficient and sustainable area. It applies innovative energy solutions, urban farming, social and economic programs, secondary currencies, and adaptive redevelopment strategies. This project was commissioned by housing corporation Vestia and agricultural research network InnovatieNetwerk.

A photo of the condition of the apartments before the project

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 and resilient sustainable community. The neighborhood uses proven, common technologies in smart ways, in combination with 'biological engines’ to provide the neighborhood with its own water, electricity, heat, waste processing and 70% of its own 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.

Energy neutral housing at the extended channels.

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 co-operative framework.

Social and Economical Development

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

Resource Self-Sufficiency

Using a combination of biogas-fueled power plants, solar installations, and heat capture from rooftop greenhouses, the area can supply all of its required electricity and heat.

Edible landscaping throughout the neighborhood can make use of previously empty lawns while meaningfully connecting residents to their natural surroundings. A key feature of the plan 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 a number of ingredients from the plan. Except hopes that this project will serve as an example for the numerous social housing areas with similar typologies worldwide.

Further Information

For the Schiebroek-Zuid project a vision book was developed as well as an ingredient book. The ingredient book, counting almost 300 pages of details, calculations, examples and solutions for all categories of the project, are available in PDF form in Dutch. Please contact us for your copy.


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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