Sustainability, a sustainable and healthy lifestyle, and community development are the core values that permeate our design. The Open Bajes design is embedded in the neighbourhood while simultaneously reflecting the human-biological relationship with nature. The Avatar Mountains in the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park are our source of inspiration for creating an open atmosphere: some of the original walls have been replaced by glass and solar panels, creating an open atmosphere while maintaining the prison’s history and materials. The concept connects the history of the building with the innovations of the future.
With our innovative plant production system, we will be able to feed all the 3000 residents of the newly developed Bijlmer Kwartier. Our system surpasses existing urban farming systems because it is both circular and modular. This means that our system runs on mist that sprays nutrients onto the roots of our plants. We use moss as a substrate: we produce and cut the moss into pieces so that it forms the new basis for our plants. Soil and water are no longer essential resources in this innovative and self-sufficient system. When vegetables are eaten and leftovers thrown away in the organic bin, we collect the organic waste and digest it into water, fertilizer, and even use it to produce electricity! In this way, we turn waste into food. Our plant production system will be open to the public, and should residents want to buy our fresh produce, they can either take out a subscription for doorstep delivery. or harvest the food themselves in our Open Market.
We envision the Open Bajes as a living lab, a collective learning community where the voice of the public continuously contributes to defining and shaping the building. To do so, we see the Open Bajes as an Amsterdam hotspot where people come together and learn about circular food production and consumption through experiencing and interacting with urban farming and nature. The Open Bajes will be an open and easily accessible space where social interactions are facilitated and encouraged by the building’s design. Moreover, the building is equipped for functions such as workshops, art, and sports events. By designing the building this way, we aim to facilitate community development and promote a healthy lifestyle, thereby enabling a process of constant co-shaping of the building and, ultimately, its sustainability. To support the Open Bajes and coordinate its different functions, we will develop an app ‘Rhythm’ which allows people to connect with the functions of the building and directly co-create their experience.
Simpli-City is the business model that reshapes the role of customers by engaging them in the continuous co-creation of value: we have designed the Open Bajes to be of the people, by the people, and for the people. Simpli-City is the basis for its revenue system and for customers to support the project’s long-term feasibility. Moreover, we have envisioned a finance and investment system based on insurance companies and banks that will invest in healthiness bonds. In this way, we will not only be able to finance the Open Bajes project, but we will also support one of our main values: a healthy lifestyle. Finally, Simpli-City has been conceived to support to community development; without community engagement and the constant co-creation of the Open Bajes by the community members, we cannot ensure the project’s sustainability. Hence, we have envisioned different solutions to facilitate community and collective identity: a complementary currency system, community members as shareholders of the Open Bajes, and other innovative solutions.
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Our priority is to reduce our input of resources by re-using resources and materials from the old prison buildings for the construction of the Open Bajes. Aligned to this, we will use moss as a substrate: growing it in our greenhouse means we will not have to purchase soil to grow our plants. Fertilizer, water, and electricity will be generated in the building using a bioreactor. Rainwater will be harvested to reduce water input from the mains. By using a mist system to spray our plants, we will reduce water usage compared to conventional irrigation systems. Our energy will be generated by solar and wind power. In addition, we will use an algae bioreactor façade. Most algal species are photoautotrophic and convert solar energy into chemical forms by means of photosynthesis. Moreover, when provided with nutrients, sunlight, and CO2, algae grow and produce new biomass which can be used in biofuels and bioplastics. Additionally, the produced waste can be used to generate biogas. Finally, we will investigate re-use methods for food, such as growing mushrooms on used coffee grounds.
We at GreenWURks are a devoted and multidisciplinary team from Wageningen University that believe in reconnecting people to nature. Combining our different perspectives within this challenges has not been easy, but we got there. Our determination and ambition to provide people with a bottom-up approach to experience food production and consumption has bonded us throughout this journey. A lot of late hours in our office, excursions, and doing surveys have bonded us and made us go beyond our usual perspectives on urban issues.