De Ceuvel

Space&Matter as Architects

Development and design of a creative incubator on a polluted brown-field. By using low-tech techniques such as recycling houseboats and cleaning the soil by vegetation, the former shipyard is an innovative sustainability experiment.


A group of companies and citizens is beginning construction on de Ceuvel, one of the most unique and sustainable urban developments in Europe. The site, which is now heavily polluted, will feature imaginatively retrofitted houseboats placed around a winding wooden walkway and surrounded by an undulating landscape of soil-cleaning plants. Each of the upgraded boats will house offices, ateliers, or workshops for creative and social enterprises, and the plan also includes a public teahouse and bed & breakfast. The houseboats, which would otherwise be thrown away, will be upgraded to the highest possible level of architectural quality and ecoefficiency. Using a Do-It-Yourself approach and scavenged waste materials, the boats will be fitted with fully renewable energy and water supplies, green roofs, and original cladding. With a cost of only 5.000 euros for materials, the return on investment for the installed clean technologies will be less than three years. De Ceuvel will be built on a water-bound plot of land that was secured for a 10-year lease in 2012 through a tender held by the Amsterdam municipality. Architects space&matter and Marjolein Smeele brought together a group that put forth the winning concept for reimagining the site of the former de Ceuvel Volharding shipyard. This group also included DELVA Landscape Architects, who will design the soil-cleaning park in collaboration with the University of Ghent. Metabolic, a sustainable development agency, completed the full sustainability plan and feasibility study for the site, with financial support from Innovation Network. Overall financing for the site development is largely provided by Bureau Broedplaatsen.

De Ceuvel

Metabolic Lab as Engineers

DE CEUVEL: FROM A POLLUTED BROWNFIELD TO A CREATIVE ECO-HUB THAT IS THE HOT SPOT OF AMSTERDAM


De Ceuvel has become one of the most unique and sustainable urban developments in Europe. Previously a polluted post-industrial brownfield, the site now hosts space for creative entrepreneurs and has been transformed into a showcase for a closed-cycle urban environment. The social and innovative aspects of de Ceuvel attract hundreds of visitors every week, turning this into a new hotspot for the city of Amsterdam.


De Ceuvel is a workplace for creative and social enterprises. It has been built on a water-bound plot of land that has been secured for a 10 year lease in 2012 through a tender held by the Amsterdam municipality. The group, brought together by Marjolein Smeele from Smeele Architectures, put forth the winning concept for reimagining the site of the former ‘De Ceuvel Volharding Shipyard’. The group included Space&Matter architecture, which designed the urban plan, and DELVA Landscape architects, which designed the phytoremediation garden that uses plants to clean the soil over time. Metabolic, a cleantech development and systems consulting firm, is responsible for the sustainability plan and the implemented technologies on the site.


By using low-tech techniques such as recycling houseboats and cleaning the soil by vegetation, the former shipyard is an innovative sustainability experiment. Construction began in early 2013 and thus far a diverse group of creative entrepreneurs have moved their offices into their boats.


Towards a Circular City Today’s cities need new models to cope with the resource and sustainability challenges we face. De Ceuvel can be seen as an example of this alternative model. Eva Gladek, CEO of Metabolic explains: “De Ceuvel is like a tiny village. We are working to close the nutrient cycle and implement distributed infrastructure on a local level. De Ceuvel is a proof of concept for more circular models of development”.


At de Ceuvel, Metabolic has installed technologies that capture nutrients from waste streams, filter and collect water, generate energy, and monitor resource flows.


“De Ceuvel shows what is possible when you match ambitious sustainability goals with bottom-up urban development. The clean technology used on-site showcase possibilities in a future, circular economy.”


“We have envisioned the de Ceuvel site as a 'Cleantech Playground' for the exploration and testing of new technologies as they become available,” said Gladek. In collaboration with partners such as Waternet, Amsterdam’s public water utility, and Stichting Doen, research and development will explore how cities can transform from resource-drains to sustainable cities with a healthy metabolism.


Plants Cleaning the Soil The brownfield’s polluted soil of is being cleaned through a process called phytoremediation, adding a regenerative element to the plan. This plan has been designed by DELVA Landscape Architects with consultation from the University of Ghent. The heavily polluted soil is now being purified by the specially selected combination of plants, resulting in a cleaner, greener and more biodiverse area than even a year ago.


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