Sometimes, the Dutch can be innovative and forward-thinking. Dutch brains gave birth to the Delta Works, the microscope, Wi-Fi, orange carrots, and of course, Old Amsterdam Cheese. It’s no surprise that so many Dutch folks are taking a keen interest in ecovillages.
And while an ecovillage may not be a Dutch invention or that much of a new idea, it is progressive, and just like TikTok, it is currently proving to be extremely popular in the Netherlands.
More and more Dutch people are becoming interested in sustainable living forms, which involves the construction of ‘green’ towns, villages, and climate-neutral houses. And this is where ecovillages come in.
Ecovillages are built with sustainable materials and run on green energy. There are many of them in the Netherlands, and more are being built every day.
Firstly, what is an ecovillage?
Ecovillages are communities who aim to be socially, economically and ecologically sustainable. Most have a population size of between 50 and 150 people. Although some are somewhat small, large ecovillages can accommodate up to 2,000 people and consist of networks of smaller sub-communities.
What do eco-villages do?
An ecovillage is basically meant to be proof that a sustainable way of life is possible. One that is much different from the status quo. In ecovillages, much attention is paid to constructing residential buildings with natural, reusable materials, generating energy and reducing ecological footprints.
In addition, they also produce their own food, reuse and recycle water and raw materials, and find new ways of collaborating and living together in harmony with each other.
The initiative hopes to become more popular as Europe aims to become carbon neutral in the coming years. This article aims to highlight some really cool ecovillages that are currently in the works or will be built in the future in the Netherlands. Let’s run through them.
Boekel Ecovillage is a fantastic project of about 36 sustainable homes. A system of innovative and circular homes makes it easy for residents to provide themselves with food, drinking water and energy.
Boekel Ecovillage is special because the homes, offices and the community centre provide heating and hot water by a sustainable battery made of stone! Yes, stone!
The system, developed by Cees van Nimwegen, which consists of a basalt-based battery that can store large quantities of electricity generated by solar panels and wind turbines, is currently in a trial phase in Boekel and hopes to become very popular in the coming years.
Land of Áine (Noordeland) Ecovillage
The Land van Áine ecovillage — previously known as Noordeland Ecovillage — is currently being built on a former potato flour factory in Ter Apel. It borrowed its new name from the Celtic moon goddess Áine, an Irish Goddess of summer, love, protection, fertility, wealth and sovereignty. A perfect name for a thriving residential community.
The ecovillage has carved out space meant for future houses for a total of 50 to 100 people, a village hall, workshops, offices and even a food forest! A large part of the houses will be built with sustainable materials such as straw, clay and wood, but there is also room for mobile homes and tiny houses.
The agricultural and construction systems adhere to permaculture philosophy, where residents work with, rather than against nature.
One ecovillage that is slowly taking shape can be found in Bergen. The pioneers have been living in temporary housing on the former mobilisation site on the outskirts of Bergen for more than seven years.
In those years, they have cultivated a gigantic vegetable garden, installed a hundred solar panels, and organised festivals, theatre performances, etc.
As soon as they have their permits from the city council, the ecovillage plans to build 25 sustainable houses on the site, and there is still room for aspiring residents! They also organise guided tours for those who are curious about their way of life.
Minitopia has been building ecovillages in several places in the Netherlands since 2016. Their first adventure started on a former GGD site in ‘s-Hertogenbosch and moved to a former recycling centre in the same city.
Every house in Minitopia is unique and, in most cases, built by the residents themselves. All homes can be dismantled or easily moved to another location, creating a circular ecovillage. This is quite necessary because this particular ecovillage is only permitted to be at its current location until 2023.
Furthermore, there are also new Minitopia ecovillages in the works in Roosendaal and Eindhoven.
Note: A circular building is one that’s constructed using materials and products leased rather than purchased, and every part of the building can be reused, remanufactured or recycled at the end of its life.
De Jelt Ecovillage
De Jelt Ecovillage is an affordable and circular residential area for people who want to live collectively and sustainably. This ecovillage cooperative promotes a do-it-yourself housing initiative and was founded by 50 members with a lot of experience in the circular construction and cultural-social sector.
They are always on the lookout for new locations to build ecovillages. One of their plans is to build a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 50 sustainable houses in the Amsterdam and Utrecht area.
Ecovillages are the future and are definitely here to stay. A lot of them organise tours of their villages or towns and also have slots open for newcomers looking to join the community.
Visit their websites, take a look at their (latest) initiatives, and learn more about them. You never know, an ecovillage might just be what you need to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.
What do you think about ecovillages, and do you think you could live in one?
Feature Image: alexkich/Depositphotos