Eindhoven Business Briefing: Vertical forests, other innovative projects to bloom in housing boom

(Editor’s noteWe started the Eindhoven Business Briefing in 2017, because we had more news in our headquarters city – which has a huge expat population – than we could possibly post. Eindhoven is way more than just another tech hub … it’s one of the most liveable innovation centers in Europe. The future really is being invented here. Send your news to: [email protected])

Of all of Europe’s Boom Towns – from Lisbon to Berlin – the high-tech hardware center of Eindhoven arguably is having the biggest boom of all.

You might never have heard of Eindhoven, but increasingly, it’s the economic engine of the Netherlands. There’s a platitude in the Netherlands: You go to university in Delft or Amsterdam, but you come to Eindhoven to make money. And it’s true. Brainport Eindhoven, which includes Eindhoven and the surrounding Brabant Province, is the fastest growing regional economy in the Netherlands,

We heard the latest figures at the debut of Brainport’s Talent Attraction plan last month. The Brabant region’s economy grew 4.9 percent in 2017 over 2016.

In 2016, Eindhoven was also No. 1, its regional GDP up 3.6 percent, compared to the national average of 2.2 percent. Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht and The Hague all saw growth between 2.2 and 3 percent.

Ultra-high tech companies here are recruiting highly skilled internationals world-wide by the thousands in an attempt to keep up with an historic business expansion.

Now, the issue becomes, “Where do we put ’em all?”

Housing was depressed here as late as 2015. So the tech boom has begotten a housing shortage in record time.

There are several new – some proposed, some funded – projects totaling almost 17,000 units into 2040 to help alleviate the pressure on housing. And in the Eindhoven tradition, these aren’t your father’s housing developments.

• Design websites Dezeen and Inhabitat track developments here closely, which tells you about how innovative they are. Earlier this year, Dezeen had a post about a proposed Stefano Boeri “vertical forest” project in Eindhoven, Trudo Vertical Forest.

The vertical forest is meant to be a green environment for people and an environmental asset for the city with its pollution-neutralizing plants. The acclaimed Italian architect has proposed these for several cities in the Netherlands, including Eindhoven and Utrecht and actually built two in Italy, according to The Verge.

In Milan, two towers with a total of more than 100 apartments have about 500 medium and large trees, 300 small trees, 5,000 shrubs, and 11,000 plants. Boeri has also been commissioned to design a huge project in China.

In Eindhoven, the plan is to build one tower in the Strijp-S neighborhoodthat will be the first subsidized social-housing “vertical forest” 19-stories high with 125 units.

From Dezeen:

The 75-metre-high building will have 70 different species of tree and plants set into its balconies. Each apartment will have … a four-square-metre terrace planted with one tree, plus 20 plants and shrubs. In total, the facade will facilitate 125 trees and 5,200 additional plants.

• As Dispatches reported last July, Nieuw Bergen is a solar-powered city with living roofs and even an urban farm in the Deken van Someren Street area.

The site is on the edge of Eindhoven’s centrum, just a few blocks south of central train station, according to a map on Rotterdam-based architecture firm MVRDV’s website. The plan calls for seven buildings, 240 new homes, 1,700 square meters (about 20,000 square feet) of commercial space, 270 square meters of urban farming and underground parking.

Eindhoven-based SDK Vastgoed is the developer.

• Our translation skills are lacking, but the Eindhoven Dagblad (daily newspaper) reported a developer is planning to redevelop an abandoned Campina dairy facility on Eindhoven’s lone canal – which is a great urban area running just east of the centrum on Kanaaldijk-Zuid-Breitnerstraat – into a 600-unit complex, a mini-city where people can live, work and play.

This development will come on-line 200 units at a time, according to a city priority survey of all the proposed projects (in Dutch).

• Just by accident (okay, we were house shopping) we ran across this website for the new Onyx Residential Tower in the center of Eindhoven. The proposed tower would have 135 apartments on 22 floors, and a luxury penthouse on the 23rd story.

Onyx would join a surprising number of high-rises for such a small city including De Admirant and De Regent.

• This city is not just a developer’s dream, but a redeveloper’s dream, because there are always discarded buildings from Philips’ heyday to be reconfigured into apartments in areas such as Strijp-S. There are plans to build as many as 4,000 homes there from 2,650 now, including repurposed former factories and new construction, at least 10 percent of which must be affordable homes.

All this doesn’t even include thousands of new student housing complexes such as the Student Hotel and Victoria Park and short-term units coming online including a building under construction in front of Victoria Park on Mathildelaan.

There’s a LOT going on.

High Tech Campus Eindhoven

This is another area where there’s more going on than we can keep up with.

Officials at High Tech Campus Eindhoven will be announcing this month a really big deal that will take the tech and startup ecosystem here to the next level. We’re sworn to secrecy on the details. And yeah, it kills us to know something and not be able to post about it. But trust us … this will be a game-changer.

What we can tell you is, Chinese electronic device giant Huawei will locate its operations there to be close to supplier Philips. Huawei makes smartphones, tablets and wearables. In other news, the original GPS tech company is consolidating two of its Eindhoven operations to a building on High Tech Campus. Tom Tom Telematic and the former Fleetlogic will move into the Smart industry Hub at HTC. This is a new building, and the concept is that “successful high-tech companies never work alone.”

Fleetlogic was acquired by Tom Tom, based in Amsterdam, in 2014. The navigational software pioneer is shifting away from consumer GPs toward navigational equipment for the autonomous car sector as consumer navigation market is saturated.

The publicly traded company has more than 4,000 employees and offices in Amsterdam and Eindhoven, as well as in India, Germany, Belgium and other countries.

If you want to see all this for yourself, Open Doors Day at HTC is Saturday, 9 June. Many of the 150-plus companies on this “smartest square kilometer in the world” open their doors to their labs, workspaces and offices including all the startups in Building 12.

We were there last year and it was amazing.

From embarrassed to ambitious

Eindhoven Airport recently announced plans to build the largest parking garage in the Netherlands. This is a major rebound as an under-construction garage collapsed last summer to the everlasting embarrassment of the Dutch, who pride themselves on their construction and engineering skills above all others.

The new proposed project would be a 10-story garage that could hold 4,000 cars, according to local media reports. The new garage would be four times larger than the one that collapsed.

The tender for construction went out last week, with construction to start next summer. The construction of the new tower must start after the summer of 2019, with the first section open in 2020.

Expanded parking is a must as Eindhoven is one of the most popular leisure airports in Europe. Check out our list of the best park-and-fly getaway airports in Europe, which, of course, includes Eindhoven.

By the way, Eindhoven just added a direct flight to Vienna on Wizz Air. Wizz Air is opening a new Vienna base, according to Routesonline, an industry website. Wizz Air will fly twice each week to Vienna, on Mondays and Fridays, starting 2 July.

And good news, thirsty travelers: Eindhoven Airport just added The Bar, a Bavaria beer bar where you can drop in and grab a pale lager after clearing security on the way to the beach. Expats in the Netherlands … you know Bavaria as one of the best beer bargains in Europe. The airport also opened a new Starbucks a couple of weeks ago.

Quick hits

• Amsterdam-based Picnic, the online-only supermarket, is expanding operations to Eindhoven. And one of the startup’s four distribution centers in the Netherlands is here as it builds out its logistics matrix.

Eindhoven-based SendCloud is one of the fastest growing startups in the Netherlands. Now, they’re expanding to France in a deal with Colis Prive. Deloitte named Sendcloud to its Fast 50 last year, the fifty companies with growth of more than 600 percent. The startup has created tools to integrate shipping for e-Commerce companies using multiple shippers.

• Every EBB, we seem to have news about a startup getting funding. Why should this one be any different?

This time, it’s Lightyear, which just raised 5 million euros from a syndicate of investors in an A round. A startup at Technical University of Eindhoven, Lightyear claims to have a design (though we’ve never seen it) for a 5-person, sun-driven electric vehicle that can go for months without having to recharge from the grid, at least in sunny locales.

Somebody thinks it’s real. If it is, it could disrupt the electric car industry.

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