Green, ecological neighborhoods are on the rise in the Netherlands. Neighborhoods of the future, where the starting point is that we have to relate to nature in a different way. Nature-inclusive, circular, with a great eye for biodiversity, native plants, climate resilience and with a diversity of houses. Not unimportant: Tiny Houses are welcome there! In addition, these projects are often set up in such a way that they are socially sustainable and promote connection between the residents. They really are the neighborhoods of the future in my opinion. In this blog I would like to put a few example projects in the spotlight.
Olstergaard – Olst-Wijhe
Of course, I can’t help but kick off with the project where I am going to live myself: the nature-inclusive and circular neighborhood of Olstergaard in the municipality of Olst-Wijhe. The municipality decided early in the development of the project to involve the future residents; the first group has been working with the municipality since 2018 to shape the neighborhood. A roadmap with rules and a quality team that assesses the sketch designs of the houses and gardens must guarantee that the ideals for this district are not lost. The homes and gardens must meet requirements for nature inclusivity and circularity, and principles from permaculture must be applied.
About 73 homes will be built in the Olstergaard, the majority of which will be privately commissioned (including self-build). But some will also be social rental homes, developed by housing association Salland Wonen, and a CPO (Collective Private Commissioning) project called “Grey and green living”. The construction of the first homes has already started; they are prefabricated in workshops spread out around the country. Construction will also start on the lots on site this autumn. The residents have the opportunity to participate in teams to share knowledge and to undertake joint activities, such as organizing introductory meetings and the (voluntary) management of public green spaces.
“Olstergaard is not just any district; it is the district of the future. A green neighborhood where people, animals and plants blend into their surroundings. Where there is plenty of attention for the climate, nature and the health of the new residents. The public space and the homes will become nature-inclusive and circular.” Municipality of Olst Wijhe.
Tuinen van Zandweerd (Gardens of Zandweerd) – Deventer
Not far from the Olstergaard another green and circular district is rising: the Tuinen van Zandweerd in Deventer. On the edge of the city against the river the IJssel, space has been made for 120 plots with a lot of freedom for self-build and collective build projects. A neighborhood with future- and lifecycle-proof homes and all kinds of new forms of housing. Here too, the municipality is working with future residents on a new residential area with respect for nature and landscape. There are plots available of different sizes; there is room for CPO projects; and part of the area is reserved for the Rentree housing association.
The latter is going to do something very beautiful in the Tuinen van Zandweerd: a Tiny House cohousing housing project in the social rental sector. Eight or nine Tiny Houses for permanent residence, with a community house for collective facilities. In addition, separate building plots have been reserved especially for Tiny Houses.
The greenery and neighborhood are car-free; parking is done on the edges of the district (this applies to all mentioned projects). The municipality has in mind a garden landscape with plenty of space for sports, relaxation and meeting each other.
“Not only the homes, but also gardens, water and greenery are central. Deep, green front gardens and garden paths provide the identity. Hence the name: The Gardens of Zandweerd. This ensures a relaxed, free and collective living atmosphere.” Municipality of Denver.
Ecowieck – Ewijk
West of Beuningen, an eco-district with 70 homes called Ecowieck is being developed. The municipality has decided not to work with a project developer, but to grant the district entirely to CPO groups. One of those groups is CPO Calimero: an initiative that focuses entirely on Tiny Houses. Earlier this year I interviewed one of the initiators of this beautiful project, Janneke van der Linden, for TinyFindy. In this blog you can read more about the vision and plans of CPO Calimero.
“We have the nitrogen crisis, the plastic crisis, the climate crisis, the housing market crisis and the biodiversity crisis. Many of these crises are linked to our way of life and how we interact with each other and nature. CPO Calimero wants to take steps to make our contribution to solving these problems!” CPO Calimero.
Veld E – Terheijden
As a ‘blue-green municipality’ you can expect that Drimmelen is actively involved in sustainability and, fortunately, that turns out to be the case. In Terheijde, the municipality is developing a new residential area where you can live in a green environment: the E-veld. The municipality has selected a project developer for the development of the project, but the intention is also that the future residents will jointly determine the layout of the greenery in the district. The neighborhood will be nature-inclusive: all homes will be built with sustainable materials, will be gas-free and almost energy neutral. Affordability is also a point of attention in the E-field project.
There is room for innovative and sustainable forms of housing and there are five special Tiny House lots available. Healthy living, climate-adaptive and nature-inclusive living and living in connection with each other is what Veld-E is all about. The sale of the lots and homes will start at the end of this year.
“In my view, nature-inclusive building is the future. I would therefore like to take our municipality to a higher level. In addition to small interventions such as built-in bird houses and bat boxes, we also adjust the environment of houses in such a way so that animals feel at home. To do this, you have to learn to look at the entire environment, which ultimately has to be designed in such a way that it contributes to biodiversity.” Alderman Jan-Willem Stoop, Municipality of Drimmelen.
These developments make me so happy and I sincerely hope that these examples will get a lot of follow-up. We all know that we cannot escape it: we must adapt our behavior if we want to pass on this earth in a livable condition to future generations. For that, it is extremely important that you live in an environment that encourages and sometimes even enforces sustainable choices. But, above all, a living environment that inspires, where you experience every day how great it is to take good care of nature and each other. That is what happens in these neighborhoods, and it is essential for making the switch to eco-central living and for future-proof communities.