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BlueCity revitalises abandoned Rotterdam water park into circular laboratory

BlueCity, Rotterdam

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Diana van Ewijk

The BlueCity business park is one of Rotterdam's unique landmarks: formerly a water park resort, the complex is now a circular incubator housing over 30 startups experimenting towards a sustainable future. It is now an international icon of circular economy, a national platform for circular entrepreneurs, and a very visible local accelerator that empowers circular entrepreneurs and inspires citizens.

For years, the former Tropicana water resort in Rotterdam's riverside boulevard lay abandoned. When local entrepreneurs sought a premise for innovative companies experimenting with sustainability, they found inspiration in the complex and began work on a a circular ecosystem. Superuse Studios and COUP transformed the building as circular as possible, re-using old elements and materials both from within the swimming pool as from other abandoned buildings, using Oogstkaart.

Wanting to keep the memories and building in place, there are now a mix of sustainable and circular entrepreneurs innovating across 12,000 m2 between the flumes and hot tubs. The goal of BlueCity is to provide start-ups and scale-ups with access to circular resources, knowledge and talent, to turn ideas into action and ultimately: to help sustainable entrepreneurs to grow from intention to impact.

BlueCity is distinctly set up to bring the circular economy to practice, attempting to bring the concept from consultancy reports to businesses selling products and services. This shows in the links companies set up between each other, where every resource possible is made use of elsewhere.

Main results: 

BlueCity revitalises a Rotterdam landmark into a clear symbol of leadership in circular knowledge & expertise.

More than 30 businesses have set up shop in BlueCity already, setting up industrial symbiosis between their respective material flows as well:

Fast-track incubator programmes connect potential business innovations with clients looking to improve their waste management.

Public workshops and debates on circular and wider green economy widen awareness of the circular transition among businesses and the general public.