17 April 2019

Rethinking the future of urban living

How can citizens create sustainable, circular and collective housing that can serve as an inspiration for future urban living? This is the question posed by the city of Amsterdam, which is seeking applicants to develop a new housing cooperative in Amsterdam Oost. Circular economy PhD candidate Kieran Campbell-Johnston is part of a team of architects, activists and researchers who, with their project De Nieuwe Meent, are finalists for this development.

Kieran Campbell-Johnston is a PhD candidate in the Environmental Governance Group of the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University. He is one of three PhD researchers working on ITN project CRESTING, which is investigating the transition to the circular economy. Kieran researches recycling systems across various EU countries as an feature of a circular economy. He is a core member and advisor in circularity for the circular housing project De Nieuwe Meent.

Credit: De Nieuwe Meent and NVZ Architects

First sustainable self-built housing cooperative in Amsterdam

“Meent” is an old Dutch word for commons: a shared landscape that is maintained by the community without exhaustion. It is the origin of gemeente, the Dutch word for borough or municipality. De Nieuwe Meent aims to become the first sustainable self-built housing cooperative in Amsterdam, entirely structured around the principles and practices of communing.

The finished house will consist of three parts: public (social centre, courtyard), communal (facilities terraces) and domestic spaces (independent social housing and shared housing). The cooperative will remain the owner of the building, with statues explicitly forbidding the resale of assets.  

Credit: De Nieuwe Meent and NVZ Architects

Circular economy in practice

Kieran uses his academic expertise in the circular economy to ensure De Nieuwe Meent has as little material impact as possible. “De Nieuwe Meent has the opportunity to become a feasible yet radical vision for the future of housing in Amsterdam,” he says.

“Spaces that are designed, built and maintained for the community by the community, which are affordable, inclusive and conscious to the needs of the surroundings. From a circular economy perspective this is incredibly exciting. Circular economy is still evolving as a concept, and here we can show how we can use it to design, build, and use a space that has consciously thought about how to reduce the material and energy impact throughout a buildings lifespan”. 

Get involved

If you would like to learn more about Kieran’s work putting research into practice with the De Nieuwe Meent, get involved or support its development, you can email Kieran or De Nieuwe Meent. You can follow developments Instagram or read more here.