Circular Buiksloterham

"You do not design a circular city. You allow it to rise."

For Buiksloterham, a 100 hectare post-industrial site in Amsterdam-North, we developed a vision, roadmap and action plan to transition to a fully circular neighborhood. Today, the neighbourhood is set to become a global example of circular urban development.

  • Client: Waternet, De Alliantie and the City of Amsterdam (Dienst Ruimtelijke Ordening)
  • Partners: DELVA Landscape Architects, Studio Nine Dots, Peter Dortwegt (New Energy Docks), Saskia Muller (Amsterdam Smart City), Frank Alsema (Neighborhood Coordinator)
The challenge
Buiksloterham from the air Transforming cities is one of the biggest leverage points in moving towards a circular economy. Cities consume two thirds of global energy and 75% of global resources, are responsible for 70% of CO₂ emissions, yet cities cover only 3% of the globe. And they are predicted to grow. By 2050, the UN predicts that 68% of the global population will live in urban areas. Creating sustainable and circular cities is a priority. This starts one neighborhood at a time.

Buiksloterham is a typical post-industrial district, just a short ferry from the center of Amsterdam. Like many industrial areas, Buiksloterham contained heavy industries that left to low-wage countries in the 2nd half of the 20th century, leaving large abandoned areas on a centrally located and well accessible location. The area, shaped by a vast system of harbors, is now being completely redeveloped into a neighborhood for living and working. This created an opportunity for the city to create Amsterdam’s first circular urban development. To do so, they brought in Metabolic to create a vision and action plan.

The challenge
Our approach
Self-build plots Together with the City of Amsterdam, housing corporations, utility companies, and residents, Metabolic analyzed the area’s resource flows and developed a 20-year vision for holistic circularity in Buiksloterham. With local stakeholders, Metabolic developed a set of interventions for improving the current situation through waste minimization, high levels of source separation, and improved recycling techniques. These interventions were then translated into a roadmap and action plan. In 2015, the Circular Buiksloterham Manifesto was signed by more than 25 committed stakeholders, anchoring public support for follow-up studies and pilot projects, and influencing urban development within Amsterdam as a whole.
Our approach
The outcome
The development of Buiksloterham as a living lab for circularity has led to a significant strengthening of the local economy and a transformation of what could previously have been deemed ‘unusable land’ into a thriving neighbourhood. Currently, Buiksloterham is undergoing transformation from an industrial area to a mixed living and working area. In 2013, the whole of Buiksloterham, an area of 100 hectares, totaled 252 residents. Once the redevelopment process envisioned by the city of Amsterdam is complete, it is projected that around 6500 people will live in Buiksloterham and an additional 8000 people will work in the area.

As a result of the sustainability tenders by the municipality, two unique projects have come forth. De Ceuvel, consisting of retrofitted houseboats placed on land, and Schoonschip, a newbuilt floating housing community. Aiming at setting a new pattern for urban development, both sites have high sustainability targets: 100% renewable electricity, heating and hot water, 100% water self sufficiency, 100% waste water management, 50-70% nutrient recovery, 10-30% food production on site for de Ceuvel and for Schoonschip these goals are even set higher. By integrating different resource flows and developing smart financial scenarios, both developments yield a high return on investment for the applied clean technologies and have become financially feasible for the communities.

The outcome
The vision
In March 2015, over 25 local stakeholders committed to the vision and goals by signing a manifesto that will guide the development in Buiksloterham over the coming decades.Buiksloterham in 2034 is projected to be a completely revitalized, new city district in Amsterdam.
  1. Water will play a more prominent rule in the urban landscape of Buiksloterham in the future, both as a recreational and mobility feature.
  2. Around 6.500 people will live in Buiksloterham and around 8.000 additional people will work here once the development is completed. 30% of Buiksloterham is projected to be dedicated to social housing.
  3. Retail and commercial facilities will only be located around the Klaprozenweg.
  4. An extensive grid of main and side streets will be built with idea of increasing  accessibility and dispersing traffic.
  5. By widening the public roads, more space is created for bicycles, which will heighten the demand for bike storage spaces. It is planned to create at least one bike parking per 25m2 housing.
  6. The municipality has projected to make the area more accessible by water for both recreational purposes and mobility.
  7. The municipality aims to facilitate the switching of different modes of transport (from public transport to individual sustainable transport like bikes, e-bikes and electric vehicles)
  8. Buiksloterham holds an opportunity of creating a continuous green link between the Klaprozenscheg and the rest of Amsterdam North.
The vision

“Buiksloterham is practically a “blank slate” that can “serve as both a test bed and catalyst for Amsterdam’s broader transition to becoming a circular, smart and biobased city.”

- Cityscope

Founder and CEO


For more information about this project, please get in touch.