The Hackable City: Urban Futures

Figure 1: Amsterdam Smart City Schemes Infogram – 2017

From the example of the collaborative approaches found in the Buiksloterham and Amsterdam Noord, we see a successful balancing of collaboration and economic viability whilst maintaining projects within environmental regulations. Yet, the region’s circular initiatives also represent a key component to Amsterdam’s wider Smart City initiative:

Cities are defined as ‘smart’ when investments in traditional and modern communications are used to facilitate sustainable economic development and quality of life; by means of managing natural resources and participatory action

Caragliu et. al, 2009


With the onset of smart initiatives, “De Ceuvel” as seen from the video above represents a testbed within Buiksloterham for applied sustainability and scalable solutions. It represents a convergence between bottom-up smart citizen initiatives and top-down big data technology in building livable communities (de Waal et. al, 2017). Various domains ranging from policy makers, academics, urban designers, cultural fields and urban services have been involved in the creation of the space; supporting the municipal goal of using as much renewable energy and recycled material as possible (

20.pngFigure 2: Developments at “De Ceuvel”- Information board Ceuvel, Marcel van Wees 2016

Elsewhere, the nature of the Buiksloterham being situated at the Port has meant that there are opportunities for the fermentation and catalysis of various waste materials such as residuals from agriculture and raw agricultural grains as well as household and commercial waste, plastic and  scraps. Furthermore, natural plant situ has been used to remediate the formerly polluted industrial sites of Buiksloterham – a process called Phytoremediation. As Wilschut et. al (2013)  point out, this is not only a more sustainable way of recovering polluted soils, but it is also much more a cost-effective than techniques such as landfill disposal.







Caragliu, A., C. Del Bo, and P. Nijkamp , (2011). “Smart cities in Europe.” Journal of urban technology, 18(2), pp.65-82.

Wilschut, M., Theuws, P.A.W. and Duchhart, I., 2013. Phytoremediative urban design: Transforming a derelict and polluted harbour area into a green and productive neighbourhood. Environmental pollution183, pp.81-88.

de Waal, M., M. de Lange, And M. Bouw, (2017). The Hackable City: City Making in a Platform Society. Architectural Design87(1), pp.50-57.


One thought on “The Hackable City: Urban Futures”

  1. A succinct video which shows how once a thriving port and now a polluted city could be ‘transformed’ with the application of technology, changing its face into a 21st century laboratory for the circular economy. It will be interesting to find out more about it’s possible applications on a wider scale, possibly enhancing the lives of communities who live near ports/ nations that depend on maritime industry for its economy (e.g. Singapore).
    Indeed, technology is a way forward though I think we cannot discount the role of top-down governance policy and even bottom-up agency (as you’ve mentioned) if we were to pursue ‘smart’/ ‘sustainable’ city narratives… I think they go hand-in-hand to complement and reinforce each other(:

    Liked by 1 person

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