This is why I live in Eindhoven.
While Oslo, Copenhagen, Hamburg and Vienna get all the buzz (too much?) when it comes to innovation, the cool stuff is going on here in the southern Netherlands.
The urbanist and renewable-energy blogs and industry websites are buzzing about Eindhoven, where we’re about to get Nieuw Bergen.
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, just a few blocks south of the city center and the 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.
If you’ve never been here and imagine Eindhoven as a smaller version of Amsterdam, it’s not. The British, Germans and Americans took turns bombing Eindhoven into rubble during World War II.
So, this industrial city started the mid-point of the 20th century with a clean slate.
Eindhoven is modern – sometimes jarringly so – and the radical architecture and technology of Nieuw Bergen will fit right in. (Residents of charming Dutch cities such as Amsterdam and Den Haag say “My condolences ….” when I tell them I live in Eindhoven.)
The glass roofs covering the green roofs are designed to be 45-degree angles and the silhouette of the planned area has a certain dynamic flow and energy.
“Jagged” is the way MVRDV describes it:
Individual buildings within Nieuw Bergen are different, yet they all collectively form a family of buildings that fit into the existing context like a mosaic. The sloping roofs reinforce this diversity and create a varied roof landscape. The diverse roofscape with solar panels and green make for an eye-catching and sustainable character. Angled roofs are less visible from the ground floor and result in a more intimate city. Collective gardens and greenhouses with lamella roof structures crown a number of buildings.
So, the experience of living in Nieuw Bergen will be Green from the streets to the rooftops. And that’s good news because there are sections of Eindhoven that are a bit sterile. This plan is definitely not sterile, which could herald a new wave of architecture that could take Eindhoven away from some of the Brutalist trends that define the edges of the center city. (The Eindhoven City Hall has to be one of the most esthetically challenged buildings outside of Priština, Kosovo.)
When you do great things, the world notices. And multiple design sites and Green journals are noticing:
The design approach echoes Eindhoven’s status as a city of technology, design and knowledge. Nieuw Bergen will get a hyper-modern feel and continues the informal character of the Bergen neighbourhood.
Community gardens and greenhouses will top some of the buildings, while most of the slanting roofs will be covered with grass and planting, following a growing trend for plant-covered design.
The fact that MVRDV is designing the project is in and of itself a major coup for Eindhoven.
Just the day before MVRDV was chosen for the Nieuw Bergen project, the firm announced a huge deal with the Sax, a 51-floor ultra-futuristic tower on Rotterdam’s harbor.
This is a firm that has designed award-winning buildings across Europe and Asia including Markthal, the amazing international market in Rotterdam.
I’ve always said that Eindhoven and Rotterdam are the Dutch cities that are most alike. Neither is a charmer, but both have a modernity and an edginess. And both are embracing the future, not dwelling in the past.
More as we get details about construction timelines and project value.
Co-CEO of Dispatches Europe. A former military reporter, I'm a serial expat who has lived in France, Turkey, Germany and the Netherlands.