Today’s Solutions: December 03, 2023

When it comes to sustainable urban development, Amsterdam stands out as a metropolis ready to integrate a variety of strategies to make the city more livable and eco-friendly: from underwater bike garages to energy-sharing, floating villages. Now, the city is planning to build an entire neighborhood out of wood.

First wooden neighborhood in centuries

The first wooden neighborhood in a Dutch city in a couple of centuries, the new quarter represents Amsterdam’s dedication to reducing building emissions. In 2020, the Dutch capital has pledged that at least 20 percent of new construction will use wood as its primary material by 2025.

The neighborhood will be called the Mandela Buurt (“Mandela neighborhood”) after the Nelson Mandela Park in the vicinity, and construction is expected to start over the next three years. As reported by Bloomberg CityLab, the development will feature ten new apartment blocks, a primary school, and social facilities. The 700 new apartments are expected to become home to 2,100 residents.

Located in a relatively low-income area, 80 percent of the new homes will be reserved for social or affordable housing at lower than market rents. This is particularly welcome in a city experiencing an acute shortage of affordable housing. Those having lived for six years or more in that part of the city will have priority access to the tenancies.

Wood as a sustainable building material

There are several reasons why timber houses are good news for the city’s efforts to reduce emissions. One obvious reason is that trees can be replanted, making wood a renewable resource. On top of that, the structural mass timber used in construction does not require a finish of masonry, further reducing the amount of material needed.

Another advantage of building with wood is that it speeds up and simplifies the construction process, as many elements can be prefabricated and assembled at the factory. Developers estimate that the development could reach completion only a year after construction is expected to start.

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