Culemborg Netherlands

Masterplan: Joachim Eble Architects, 2004-now

This high-density, low-rise development in eastern Netherlands was the brainchild of one individual, Marlene Kaptein. She has driven the project forward against some opposition and many funding difficulties. It is now two-thirds complete, and an exemplar of urban ecology.

Set in a city edge of mature trees and marginal agriculture, the development sits within a permaculture masterplan by Joachim Eble. It consists of a varied housing mix, a school, a library, theatre, workshops, offices and shops. The development sits adjacent to a main railway station and is car free.

The project exploits solar energy passively and actively throughout. The infrastructural use of water and trees is routine in the Netherlands and here successfully encourages productive gardening. There is a policy of environmentally sound materials and an interest in healthy building design, including innovative building techniques from self-build straw bale to terrace houses under glass and a series of sun-scoop courtyards.

As with many projects in the Netherlands, the democratic basis of the development is valued and locally determined policy-making is an integral part of the whole scheme.

Case Study 14.4:

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