A harbour rises at De Ceuvel

A harbour rises at De Ceuvel

Jul 22, 2014 |  by  |  Food, Music
About the author
I'm a food stylist, like pugs and doomcore and will buy a book twice if I like the edition. My favourite thing about Amsterdam is its windows and a certain house on the gracht where people read and plans are hatched by candlelight.

De Ceuvel has risen out of the toxic wastelands and waters of a former industrial plot in Noord, forming a sustainable urban development floating on the backs of disused houseboats, beached like whales. The hub will be a hive for creative and social enterprises and, once the artists, architects, cooks, urban planners and designers have moved in, will be testament to the importance of smart urban planning in our pursuit of sustainability. At the very least, it’s a nice place to read your book and drink a beer.

Beer and other life-enriching experiences

The area has been a dumping ground for polluted dredge for a long time but is now transformed. The café, a wooden Stonehenge, rises above what is still a building site but which will likely still look like this for the next 10 years (the length of the contract), despite the building work being completed. This is also likely to be the real reason most Amsterdammers will set sail ‘all the way’ to Noord. It’s where you can buy the beers you took the boat out to get and find your place on the next available pile of scrap wood. There’s food (I had a watermelon and cucumber salad with shovels of chia seed and grated coconut over it) and a makeshift stage for music and whatever else: the flyers pinned to any available piece of wood promise yoga, meditations, workshops and other life-enriching experiences.

A green place

But this is far more than what Noorderlicht may have used to be. De Ceuvel is a totally self-sufficient child of design, recycling and technology. It will rely on solar technology for its heat and electricity, green roofs and water collection systems will supply water and its sanitation systems will extract energy, nutrients and water from on-site waste and be used for food production. It will also serve as a showcase and living laboratory for new, green technologies to the broader public (they call it a ‘Cleantech Playground’). Solar panels, high-efficiency electric boilers, biological waste processing systems, water filtration systems, smart insulation methods and the use of vegetation to create a bio diverse environment (phytoremediation) are all on show and already doing their thing so that when the boats pull away in 10 years, the land will be left clean(er) and more valuable to us all.

“This green oasis creates a new on-land harbour for second-hand house boats, which otherwise would have ended up in a junk yard”.

And it is beautifully done. A bamboo board walk snakes between the retrofitted boats (led by architecture firm space&matter and clean-tech development and systems consultancy firm, Metabolic Lab), proud of their face-lift and new purpose in life as ateliers and workshops. Beyond every bend is a new small business in the process of making their shell a home and with time there will be floating gardens, both water cleaning and food producing and, hopefully, a string of other ecologically, economically ad socially interesting areas.

Long live (cultural) sustainability!

If you’re interested in finding out more about the bottom-up community development, architecture and spatial planning, the phytoremediation of polluted soils and closed-loop clean-tech integration then you can book a tour with one of the project’s initiators. Here’s the flyer.

De Ceuvel

Where: Kortepapaverweg 2
Web: Website / Facebook

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