Buiksloterham, an urban development in Amsterdam North, has experimented with bottom-up circular development, self-build housing, decentralized utility infrastructure, floating communities, and high-end developments that work to incorporate new circular industry, leading to a significant strengthening of the local economy and a transformation of what could previously have been deemed ‘unusable land’ into a thriving neighbourhood.
Metabolic’s Circular Buiksloterham project came about after the organisation created the sustainability plan for De Ceuvel (a bottom-up urban living lab using recycled materials) and Schoonschip (a floating and more advanced urban development for 47 households), both of which were located in Buiksloterham.
First, Buiksloterham’s water and energy needs, expected emissions, expected material usage, etc., were analysed, and compared to what should be the case in a more circular urban system. A number of recommendations were then made to the city of Amsterdam and its partners to help bridge the gap. The project has helped facilitate an election of ‘community champions’ within the Buiksloterham area to continue to spearhead the initiative and drive forward the interests of the local community.
The development of Buiksloterham as a living lab for circularity has led to a significant strengthening of the local economy. Given that the area was so hard hit by de-industrialization, and therefore one of the lower socio-economic neighbourhoods in Amsterdam with some of the highest levels of unemployment, the regeneration of the area hopes to have a positive effect on both the local community and the city as a whole.
Entrepreneurs are also moving to the area as new market spaces and entrepreneurial office spaces and accelerators pop up around Amsterdam North. The national government of the Netherlands continually points to pioneering projects in Amsterdam North, and Buiksloterham specifically, when it talks about its innovative policies, further committing to them to ensure the area is a proven success. The city itself has used the opportunity to implement inclusiveness and circularity into its tendering procedures, ensuring that any proposal is judged on those criteria.
“An ambitious attempt to alter in some fundamental ways the premise of urban design, which despite significant structural barriers to direct success has nonetheless influenced and inspired large numbers of key players, creating potential for far deeper impacts in the longer term.”
– Tom Henfrey