“Houseboats were always the soul of the project. Not only were they ideally suited to be plotted, without foundation, on land best left untouched, but they can be converted into innovative spaces before being towed up the harbour and placed on the site by crane.”
— Sascha Glasl, co-founder Space&Matter

Uniquely regenerative

Due to the small budget and temporary nature of the development, the multidisciplinary team focused on developing an innovative concept that prioritised mobility and reuse. The urban plan was designed in such a way that wasteland and waste materials would be transformed into valuable resources. 

The site features imaginatively retrofitted houseboats branching off of a winding bamboo walkway that is, in turn, surrounded by an undulating landscape of soil cleaning plants designed by Delva Landscape architects. This green oasis creates a terrestrial harbour for boats that would have otherwise been demolished. As largely self-sufficient elements, the boats are able to leave the site without any trace when the ten years are up.

“De Ceuvel gives the impression of a utopia that has actually been accomplished.”
— Dutch Design Week

Playground for innovation

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 collectively save around six million litres of water from being used to flush waste and divert ten 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 ten-year existence.

De Ceuvel’s polluted soil is purified with the use of phytoremediation techniques. A carefully put together selection of plants is used to stabilize, break down, and absorb pollutants, while at the same time producing low-impact biomass. After a decade, the entire site will be returned to the municipality of Amsterdam, much cleaner and healthier than it was when the project began. Research on the purification and low-impact biomass production at De Ceuvel is conducted by the University of Ghent.

Making sustainability accessible, tangible and fun

De Ceuvel is not only a cultural centre for the green innovation community, but also a place where locals (and even visitors from faraway places) can come together to enjoy art and culture, and where they can learn about circularity in an inviting manner.

Since its opening in 2014, De Ceuvel has welcomed thousands of people from various backgrounds for a number of reasons: healthy and locally produced drinks and food at De Ceuvel cafe, an experiential tour of the cleantech playground, a meeting in one of the unique offices, a sustainability workshop, a music evening or ‘Trashlessfestival,’ or panels and discussions about circularity, sustainability and urban farming.

“All of it is to attract a lot of people, to get a lot of people here so that they get in contact with the sustainability stories.”
— Sascha Glasl, co-founder Space&Matter