Investigation into a sustainable implant in the Erasmusveld neighborhood, The Hague

The City Development Authority of Den Haag’s ambition is for Erasmusveld to be the most sustainable neighborhood in the Netherlands. The site, 51 hectares in the southwest of Den Haag, has a strong green character and is currently occupied by allotment gardens and sports fields. From 2012-2020, 750 homes and a small number of offices will be constructed with a variety of urban typologies. Conventional 20th century infrastructures (electricity, heat supply, sanitation, solid waste management, transportation) do not meet the planners’ ambitions of 100% local and renewable energy and climate neutrality. A decentralized infrastructure network, formulated by the Sustainable Implant concept, was investigated to empower Erasmusveld socially, environmentally, and economically.

The resultant Sustainable Implant is a community center, infrastructure service hub, and processing device to transform the neighborhood’s built environment into an ecosystem that recirculates energy and nutrients from “waste” and captures primary resources (sun, wind, rain). Constructive analysis by literature review, case studies, and expert interviews led to eight physical components for the system:
The neighborhood ecosystem is formed by integrating the inputs and by-products of the components, which are spatially optimized under one roof. A compact and flexible infrastructure “ribbon” between the buildings and the Sustainable Implant encapsulates the heat network, vacuum sewer, electricity and telecom wires; thus re-imagining infrastructure as a tangible landscape to reinforce stewardship and connectivity.
Economically, the infrastructure network is owned, operated and maintained by a local utility service company (termed the Erasmusveld Energy BV ), which would reduce inhabitants’ utility costs by 10-20% through efficiencies gained by integration and would create administration and caretaking jobs. Inhabitants have the right to be shareholders in the company and vote on how accumulated funds are reinvested. Compared to a conventional neighborhood by four indicative cycles (carbon, phosphorus, water and energy), the Sustainable Implant improves urban metabolism. Notably, the infrastructure of renewable electricity, heat network and resource recovery from organic material leads to a carbon-negative balance, making Erasmusveld the first carbon-negative neighborhood in the Netherlands. The Sustainable Implant also fulfills twenty-one established criteria, including Optimizing collection and transport, equal or more comfort, equal or more ease of use, and similar costs.

Associated space

The Hague