“New models of collective ownership for the built environment are required to keep us within planetary boundaries.”
— Alice Haugh, project lead Space&Matter

Developing a circular neighbourhood

Understanding how to develop a circular neighbourhood at H-Midden required deepening our understanding of the local context and identifying what existing talents and qualities are there to elevate them in our process. To do so, we developed a methodology that balances social and environmental values with spatial and economic ones. 

We considered the site analysis from three perspectives: social, environmental and economic, considering what ‘affordable’ means in this context. The social value mapping was done by using the Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) methodology; identifying the assets already present in the community. In-depth interviews are translated in a live-asset map which is undergoing constant enrichment as new sources of social value are discovered.

“When [the neighborhood sees that] we are active with growing our own food, cooking with local ingredients, facilitating outdoor sporting and social gatherings - this will positively influence a healthy lifestyle of generations to come.”
— CLT H-Buurt member

Testing our research in the real world

To test our research within a real-world context, we had the privilege of working directly with Community Land Trust H-Buurt on a transformation site in the Bijlmer called H-Midden. The Bijlmer provides a vibrant and diverse site with a history of attempted transformations. However, in each case, its approach has been top-down. Although ambitions were high, the process failed to listen to and involve the target group. To counter this, we developed a series of prototypes and validated them directly through an iterative process with resident members of the CLT.

We established an Urban City Lab to ensure that the outcomes of the research truly aligned with the needs and wishes of the target audience, involving people from the citizen, public, market and academic sectors. Included were members of CLT Bijlmer themselves as well as students from AMS Institute and diverse experts from Metabolic, Gemeente Amsterdam, Gemeente Almere, Syntrus Achmea and Rabobank. 

“Cooperatives are achieving something that the market would never provide. But there are few possibilities for the commons in the current process of neighbourhood development. New ownership models for land and buildings are needed to facilitate the shift.”
— Tineke Lupi, program manager City of Almere

Four transformative use cases

By starting with desk-based research we identified opportunities for circularity in the built environment and then filtered those opportunities down based on maximising the positive spatial, social and environmental impact of those opportunities. This results in four validated use cases to take further: a community garden, a performance-based solution for thermal comfort, an open building structure and a space for sharing and repairing appliances. 

Over time, each of these business models carries several advantages. The community garden would result in increasing CLT income and food security, while simultaneously saving food costs and waste taxes. The performance-based solution for energy supply will lead to reduced energy costs and a reduction in fuel demand. An Open Building structure reduces life cycle costs and increases staying power, while ‘Clean and Fix’ results in space-saving within homes, reduced energy and material costs from household appliances and increased opportunities for residents to meet each other on a daily basis

You can study and use the open framework and business models via ‍www.cooperate.eco

Where do we go from here?

Co-Operate aims to support the transition to a climate-neutral society based on co-ownership. Naturally, we cannot do this alone. Therefore, we invite interested parties from across the built environment domains to help us turn these use cases into investable propositions. Join us in developing, demonstrating, and implementing these propositions as real-world prototypes. If you’re a financier, investor, asset owner, fund manager, municipal representative, landowner or community group, we want to hear from you. 

We will be forming a working group with the remit to further define the structure, focal areas and partnerships required to move forward. This working group will run throughout 2021. If you would like to get involved, please reach out to contact@cooperate.eco