Housing Estate Eva-Lanxmeer
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With respect to this COST C8 project (focus on infrastructure), this project
shows that starting form the very beginning of the design process a ‘normal’
infrastructure can be reduced by following the approach of closed (hydrology)
cycles in the project area.
This case portrays
an urban development project in which Integrated Water Resources Management
(IWRM). The pilot project, named EVA-Lanxmeer, covers 200 houses built
alongside a protection zone for the production of drinking water. The
ecological restrictions that apply to such an area provide excellent opportunities
to demonstrate sustainable IWRM in practice.
The new housing estate
has been established through the joint effort of the Dutch EVA foundation
and the municipality of Culemborg. EVA is a Dutch abbreviation of the
words Education, Information and Advice. Its aim is to enhance environmental
awareness among the general public and to empower the parties involved
or will be involved in the future. To achieve this, it develops projects
where measures for the preservation of natural resources are implemented
in everyday situations.
The design and implementation of EVA-Lanxmeer has been
an interactive process between the most relevant parties, such as the
municipality, the drinking water company, the Energy Company and future
inhabitants. By subdividing the area into small-scale neighbourhoods and
successively developing them, the team could learn from earlier experiences
and apply innovations in subsequent phases.
Integrated water management
in the project area involves water storage, wastewater treatment and water
supply. Precipitation from roofs is collected in ponds, water from the
street surface infiltrates into Wide Infiltration Trenches, and restored
old riverbeds provide additional water storage capacity. For the treatment
of sewage water, a natural purification system, comparable to so-called
“Living Machines” is applied. This is a biological purification
process which is also very suitable for environmental education. Finally,
the supply of drinking water and household water takes place through separate
All such measures
inevitably increase the system’s vulnerability to contamination
through consumer behaviour, i.e. dumping engine oil into the sewer system.
Environmental awareness of all inhabitants therefore remains a key to
success. EVA achieved this by providing a continuous supply of information
and through the neighbourhoods’ approach, thus encouraging joint
The focus in the
EVA-Lanxmeer project was laid upon technical aspects as well as awareness
and organisational, institutional aspects. These can - in a more elaborated
way - used as indicators for sustainability of the project.
For the formal organization and commitment of all parties involved the
EVA foundation was established (1994). EVA’s philosophy is that
successful implementation of sustainability largely depends on the commitment
that the general public shows to it. The estate should create the conditions
for people to make their own living environment, and should offer conditions
for living, working, leisure and education. It could then serve as a worldwide
example for sustainable urban development. Community participation is
an important indicator.
Not only future inhabitants, architects, municipality etc. are involved,
but also other parties like the drinking water company. By involving them
from the very beginning of the project they fully co-operated with a request
to the provincial authorities for an exemption on housing development
within the 25 years groundwater protection zone. This illustrates the
large mutual trust and ambitions and the value of a participatory approach.
Focussed on the physical realization of the project the following indicators
• water retention and re-use
• water purification
• energy saving and heat production
• integrated landscape design
• biological food production
• awareness, information and education
retention and re-use
Modern water management is to preserve water of good quality stored in
the area it originates from, and to prevent it from directly being drained
off to sewers or rivers. Such stored water can then be used during periods
of drought, or applied in other ways. The following measures have been
• Rainwater that falls
on roofs is collected in small ponds, which are located on the terrain.
• Water that originates from street surfaces is led to Wide Infiltration
Trenches (Wadi’s) that allow it to infiltrate in the subsoil, subsequently
recharging the groundwater;
• Additional water storage capacity has been created through the
restoration of ancient riverbeds. This storage capacity fully compensates
for the fact that pavement of areas causes an acceleration of drainage
processes. The polder authorities therefore did not have to take any additional
measures to compensate for the urbanisation side-effects. Besides additional
water storage capacity, the restoration also provided in ecologic embankments.
(see also landscape design).
Local water purification
The purification of household sewage (kitchen and laundry effluents) purification
takes place on the project terrain itself. An area that consists of reed
beds (helophytes) receives the effluent and purifies it. Especially on
this aspect, environmental awareness of the inhabitants is important,
as wrong consumer behaviour may cause the purification system to malfunction.
For the treatment of wastewater from the (planned) EVA-Congress Centre
and hotel, a different approach has been chosen. A biological purification
concept, comparable to “Living Machines ®” provided an
excellent opportunity to combine the environmental-friendly purification
with educational purposes.
Energy saving and heat
The groundwater that is pumped up by the drinking water company in the
adjacent area has an excess temperature of twelve degrees Celsius. It
was discovered that this energy could be used for city heating. In the
second phase of the project, this idea had been made reality. A central
system now supplies all houses from building with heating. Thus, to its
own surprise, the drinking water company had become sort of an energy
company as well. Furthermore, all houses have been thoroughly isolated
to have a minimum amount of energy loss. Sewage water from houses and
kitchen waste will be led to a biogas production plant for energy production.
All houses have been supplied
with systems for solar energy. Sun-boilers pre-heat the tap water, and
solar cells supply the houses with electricity. In the beginning of the
project the houses still have individual heaters for low temperature heating
systems that are integrated in the walls. Now the local Waterboard supplies
heat through a central heating system based on the warm from subsoil water.
The polder Lanxmeer, in which the project is located, covers various historic
items. Firstly, an ancient river bed crosses the area. Also, it covers
archaeological findings from the Roman era. Not only to preserve this
landscape, but also to use the natural conditions for (short periods,
seasonal) water storage special attention was paid for the implementation
of the landscape elements in the project. .
Biological food production
The biological food production (fruits and vegetables) may be not a primary
indicator for sustainability, but the farmer of is also involved in the
design of the courtyards in the project and serves educational purposes,
as it is an example of (small scale) sustainable food production in everyday
EVA’s philosophy is that successful implementation of sustainability
largely depends on the commitment that the general public shows to it.
All the measures inevitably increase the system’s vulnerability
to contamination through consumer behaviour, i.e. dumping engine oil into
the sewer system. Environmental awareness of all inhabitants therefore
remains a key to success. EVA achieved this by providing a continuous
supply of information and through the neighbourhoods’ approach,
thus encouraging joint responsibility.
Furthermore in an intensive series of discussions, meetings, workshops
and lectures during the various stages of the project all parties were
informed about the development and were asked for there comments and ideas.
In this way the future inhabitants can also develop a good practice for
this ‘new way’ of living. The project itself has the ambition
to be a continuous developing and learning centre also for other projects.
planned EVA Congress and
The EVA organization planned
a Congress and Education Centre to facilitate congresses and workshops
on sustainable urban development, infrastructure and environment. It also
will supply information to individuals and organisations that show interest
in the project. The mentioned Living Machine ® will therefore be located
within the centre of it.
The centre will also be used for regular meetings amongst the inhabitants,
as their consumer behaviour is of major importance to the project’s
success. If, for instance, an occupant would use aggressive liquids such
as bleach or white spirit, the entire purification system of helophytes
would be destroyed. Regular meetings and information-exchange are therefore
necessary to keep inhabitants motivated for environmental-friendly behaviour.
The driving forces behind the EVA-Lanxmeer were the early adopters
of the EVA concept, gathered in the EVA Foundation and in a later stage
the organization of the inhabitants. They were inspired by the worldwide
sustainable movement and want to act locally. The Lanxmeer- plan was presented
at a master class which was attended by various valued architects and
city planners from the international network of the EVA Foundation. Their
opinion had a strong effect on the EVA-project team’s ideas.
Keywords in the approach are among others: participatory capacity and
empowerment, knowledge sharing, shared vision planning, interdisciplinary
co-operation, public involvement, recycling and reuse, but also standing
regulations for water quality and water quantity, ‘sustainable society’.
The design and implementation
of EVA-Lanxmeer has been an interactive process between the most relevant
parties, such as the municipality, the drinking water company, the Energy
Company and future inhabitants. By subdividing the area into small-scale
neighbourhoods and successively developing them, the team could learn
from earlier experiences and apply innovations in subsequent phases (‘neighbourhoods
The appreciation of the initiative
by other parties has encouraged the development. Within the framework
of a national contest in 2000, supported by the Dutch Government the EVA-Lanxmeer
project has been given the status of “National example project for
intensive use of space”. Nowadays the project serves as a valuable
resource of experiences with integrated water management in urban areas
as a normal practice in everyday life. It enhances the general public’s
awareness of environmental issues. Governments, municipalities and initiative
groups make use of the experiences.
• Sustainable urban development benefits from the interdisciplinary
teamwork of all parties involved;
• The initiatives should have not only ‘emotional’ support,
but also enough financial support to be able to guard the concept in a
professional and consistent way and during a longer period. Many parties
are involved, each of them having his own ideas. It is therefore recommended
to specifically include a budget for professional quality assurance.
• Enhancing the commitment of the inhabitants enlarges the success
for integral water management; long-term success will greatly depend on
their consumer behaviour; subdividing the area into small-scale responsible
‘neighbourhoods’ encourages this;
• The ‘neighbourhoods approach’ allows for the application
of new insights in subsequent phases of development (‘learning on
• To make participation of future inhabitants in the design of housing
development achievable, affordable and realisable within the limits of
time, sustainability and costs, a sound structure for conferencing is
to be applied; not all individual wishes can be granted, as this would
make a project costly or priceless; inhabitants should appoint a delegation
to represent them in negotiations with the architect(s) and other parties.
• The approach results in high sustainability, but after completion
it requires a continuous processing, which seems more costly than usual
APPLICATION AND TRANSFERABILITY
The aim of the EVA-project is to realize housing development that
would bear all possible measures for sustainability, including water management
and energy and the consequences for the physical infrastructure and integration
in the existing landscape and environment.
This is a very general approach for city development, especially for new
towns. It is the very explicit EVA’s philosophy that successful
implementation of sustainability largely depends on the commitment that
the general public shows to it. Therefore the EVA organization planned
a Congress and Education Centre to facilitate congresses and workshops
on sustainable urban development, infrastructure and environment.
IMPACT ON SUSTAINABILITY
(one basic philosophy), but also dynamic approach (learning by doing)
of the project EVA-Lanxmeer proves that major steps forward can be made
with sustainable building, including infrastructure and landscape design.
Besides an input by professionals an institutional framework is essential
and also the continuous participation of inhabitants. It is of utmost
importance to enhance environmental awareness among the general public.
To achieve this it is important to develop and implement measures for
the preservation of natural resources for everyday situations.
Ms. Marleen Kaptein, EVA Foundation,
Lodewijk v. Deysselhof 19
4103 WK Culemborg, The Netherlands, telephone +31 345 568506
E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Website EVA-Lanxmeer: www.EVA-lanxmeer.nl
Callway, Germany “Energiesparsiedlungen”, Konzepte, Techniken,
Realisierte Beispiele. Page 114, 115 Mischbebauung in Culemborg: EVA-Lanxmeer
als “integrierte” Siedlungsform.
Ministry of VROM and Novem: Uitgeverij Aeneas. 2000. ‘Kiezen voor
Verandering’/‘Opting for Change’, sustainable building
in the Netherlands, page 118, 119, Challenge for the Future: EVA-Lanxmeer