Circular area development in the Achtersluispolder

Transforming an industrial site into a circular, energy-neutral, mixed-use neighborhood.

Leading by example, Zaanstad’s Achtersluispolder business district aims to become a “future-proof” mixed-use neighborhood, offering new sustainable homes and jobs in the Metropolitan Region of Amsterdam. 

  • Client: Municipality of Zaanstad
  • Partners: C-Creators
  • Date: 2019

Addressing the need for new sustainable housing in the Netherlands

Housing availability and affordability in the Netherlands is a well-known issue. Prices are high, there is a shortage of existing homes, and few new homes are coming onto the market. The Dutch Minister of Home Affairs has set a new target to avoid critical consequences: 845,000 homes must be built by 2030. The need for housing is particularly high in the Randstad region, comprising the four largest Dutch cities – Amsterdam, Rotterdam, the Hague, and Utrecht – and their surrounding areas. Zaanstad’s Achtersluispolder district is looking for ways to address this problem, while considering the current employment of the region and the need to preserve the environment. 

To identify an actionable plan for the circular development of the district, Metabolic conducted an analysis in partnership with C-Creators. Together with the municipality, we are working towards a resilient, inclusive, and livable Achtersluispolder,  with space for healthy working and living by 2040. 


Designing a circular and energy-neutral neighborhood 

Following a thorough analysis, we proposed a concrete approach to transform Achtersluispolder from the current industrial business park to a mixed-use working and residential area with about 8,000 homes and more than 3,000 additional jobs. 

Sustainability will play a central role in the new circular Achtersluispolder district’s vision. Our proposals aim to develop:

A productive neighborhood where cycles are closed 

  • The district will be self-sufficient with a fully renewable, locally-generated energy supply, and waste-free, with materials being continuously recycled at high quality.

A healthy, inclusive, and future-proof neighborhood

  • Biodiversity and contributing habitats are supported and preserved. The neighborhood’s design focuses on green areas too, to give residents space to walk and cycle, promoting health and social cohesion.   

A neighborhood made for makers

  • In the Achtersluispolder, working and living are intertwined. The neighborhood’s design supports the creation of strong social networks in which social initiatives flourish.



Paving the way for a new vision of mixed-use urban areas

The Achtersluispolder is in a beautiful location, offering a view over the North Sea Canal and close to large parks, such as the Vijfhoekpark and the Noorder IJplas. However, it is currently considered a strict industrial site, with only 95 residents, ignoring the circular housing potential of the area. Our proposed actions aim to transform the district while maintaining its business focus, making it a mixed-use, circular, and energy-neutral neighborhood. To bring this vision to life, we suggest:

  • Kickstarting collaboration with key stakeholders on iconic projects to transform the area into a “sustainable” valley. For example, mission-driven company Tony Chocolonely will establish its head office and theme park in this area.
  • Push forward with MPG and BENG standards ahead of national developments and experiment with more ambitious criteria.
  • Start building public transport connections between Amsterdam and Zaandam, researching options for low-emission public transport connections.

We advise laying the groundwork for the circular transition on the already-existing building plots present in the area. Following these recommendations, the Achtersluispolder neighborhood will become a leading example of the circular development of an industrial site, creating a circular and energy-neutral district for living and working.

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Team Lead Circular Policy & Implementation


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