A polluted plot of land in Amsterdam has been transformed into a “small piece of paradise” through a community-driven development. Now an eco-hub for creative and social enterprises, De Ceuvel offers a unique feel from the moment visitors set eyes on its buildings, almost all of which are houseboats taken out of the water and placed on land.
The project is a test site for “closed loop” and regenerative urban development: using clean technologies for managing water, energy, sanitation, and food production, as well as using plants to clean the polluted soil (phytoremediation). The social and innovative aspects of De Ceuvel attract hundreds of visitors every week.
In 2012, together with a group of creatives we put forward a regenerative concept for the former shipyard, De Ceuvel Volharding. Upon winning the tender and thereby securing use of the plot for ten years, a whole team of experts set to work developing a plan that is highly innovative within the fields of urbanism, architecture and sustainability.
Due to the small budget and temporary nature of the development , the multidisciplinary team focused on developing an innovative concept that prioritized mobility and reuse. The design of the urban plan combines 'waste’ land and 'waste’ materials into a source of new value. The site features imaginatively retrofitted houseboats placed around a winding bamboo walkway and surrounded by an undulating landscape of soil-cleaning plants designed by Delva Landscape architects. The upgraded boats house offices, ateliers and workshops for creative and social enterprises.
This green oasis creates a new on-land harbour for these boats, which would have otherwise ended up being demolished. As largely self-sufficient elements, the boats are able to leave the site without any trace when the ten years is up, leaving the land more valuable and biodiverse.
De Ceuvel is a 'Cleantech Playground’ for the exploration and testing of new green technologies as they become available. The site’s compost toilets and biofilters will collectively save around 6 million litres of water from being used to flush waste and divert 10 million more litres into on-site biological treatment. The eco-retrofits and renewable energy production on site have saved an estimated 600 tonnes of materials throughout construction and will save over 200,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions throughout the site’s existence.
The polluted soil at de Ceuvel will be purified by phytoremediation techniques, in which plants are used to clean the soil. A specially selected combination of plants is used to stabilize, break down and absorb pollutants and meanwhile produce low-impact biomass. After ten years, the entire site will be returned to the municipality of Amsterdam cleaner than we received it. Research on the purification and low-impact biomass production at de Ceuvel is conducted by the University of Ghent (Belgium).
Space&Matter and Metabolic led the design and technical outfitting of the boats’ retrofit, together with construction foreman and boat expert Huib Koel. The boat retrofitting process was publicly visible at NDSM wharf in Amsterdam North from April until September 2013. The boats were placed on the De Ceuvel site in October 2013.
Space&Matter and Metabolic led the design and technical outfitting of the boats retrofit, together with construction foreman and boat expert Huib Koel. The boat retrofitting process was publicly visible at NDSM wharf in Amsterdam North from April till September 2013. The boats were placed on the de Ceuvel site in October 2013.