Nature Based Solutions - Implementation Models Database

Private garden


A short description of the NSB

Vrijburcht is a multipurpose living-and-working complex in Amsterdam created by residents as response to the expected impacts of climate change. The courtyard garden, composed of trees, lawns, flowers, benches and a greenhouse, provides solutions to prevent or reduce flooding from extreme rainfall, drought during dry periods and heat stress during hot summer days. In particular: • Rain water (from the roof tops) is collected in two tanks that are buried in the garden and it is used for irrigation of garden and plants on the surrounding terraces/balconies; • Car parking garage is created under buildings and garden is paved minimally to create maximum permeability for rain water; • Relief is created: water flows from higher parts to a marsh-like environment. This prevents flooding of the garden and enhances vegetation diversity by creating dryer and wetter environments across the courtyard garden; • Drainpipes are detached from facades at ground-floor level and together form a pergola construction for creeping plants. This minimizes the impact of potential leakages on the facades. Creeping plants are also used at the exterior of the building creating wind screens and green facades; • Many trees in the garden provide shade and thus contribute to an agreeable microclimate on hot summer days.

NBS Implementation context
Location Amsterdam (Netherlands) - IJburg, Steigereiland
Status (from - to) Project delivered (2001-2008)
NBS Scale Neighbourhood
NBS Impacts scale • Neighbourhood • City
Urban density/ Soil consumption
NBS Typology

NBS Uban Challenges
Climate Issues Climate mitigation
Climate adaptation
Other 0
Urban water management and quality Urban water management and quality
Flood management
Other 0
Air Quality Air quality at district/city scale
Air quality locally
Other 0
Urban Space and Biodiversity Biodiversity
Urban space design
Urban space management
Other 0
Urban Regeneration and Soil Air quality at district/city scale
Other 0
Resource efficiency Food, energy and water
Raw materials
Other 0
Public health and well-being Acustic
Quality of life
Other 0
Environmental justice and social cohesion Environmental Justice: Recognition
Environmental Justice: Procedural Justice
Environmental Justice: Distributional Justice
Environmental Justice: Capabilities
Environmental Justice: Responsibility
Social Cohesion
Other 0
Urban planning and governance Urban planning and form
Governance in planning
Other 0
People Security Control of crimes
Control of extraordinary events
Other 0
Green economy Circular economy
Bioeconomy activities
Direct economic value of NBS
Other 0
NBS Stakeholders & Governance

Vrijburcht was initiated in 2000 by a group of people (all living in the centre of Amsterdam) that started to consider the possibility to create their own new housing as a “collective private commissioning” (CPC) project. They presented their plan to the Amsterdam municipality that consequently reserved specific areas of the newly constructed island ‘Steigereiland’ for the CPC project. Private people jointly acquired this piece of land and organized themselves in a foundation (Vrijburcht Foundation) acting as a commissioner for the whole project. This organisational set-up gave much freedom to future residents to realize their wishes. The design of the courtyard garden was created by the same landscape architects involved in Vrijburcht Foundation as residents-to-be. Through presentations, excursions, opinion polls and several workshops with other future residents, a common idea about plan and design style of the project was formed. Once the project was realized, all flats owners joined together in Homeowner Association, a legal entity taking care of buildings maintenance and other shared interests (i.e. the common garden). The association has an executive committee, a general assembly, a chair and a financial committee.

Initial actors (Leaders) Community • Citizens; Market • Private sector
Involved actors Community • Citizens (residents-to-be of a building block); Market • Private sector (residents-to-be of a building block) • Social enterprises (social housing corporation ‘De Key’)
Ecological scale Local scale green area
Governance model CLUSTER 4: Societal Resilience • Self-governance/grassroots initiatives
NBS Financial aspects

Total costs of building complex were about € 16 million. Garden costs (about € 55.000 excluding rainwater storage facilities and greenhouse costs, respectively € 17.500 and € 30.000) were carried by all residents/users: garden was a collective wish of stakeholders and it was financed by them by making compromises in the overall complex design (the overall budget was fixed but the garden could be financed by economizing on other aspects of the building design). There was no subsidy involved. Instead Vrijburcht Foundation arranged with Rabobank the idea of personal loans (at favourable interest rate) and procedures for a special mortgage construction for people with an average regular income. Also the (social) housing corporation ‘De Key’ provided financial warranty and know-how. On annual basis, maintenance costs of the garden amount to € 3.000 (including the work of a gardener helping voluntary residents). Also costs of the maintenance are carried by the inhabitants and ‘De Key’ as part of regular service fees of the building, managed by homeowner association.

Global (estimated) cost of the project 50k€ - 200k€
Financing mechanism Private foundation
NBS Business Models Archetype
Technological Non applicable
Social Non applicable
Organisational Re-purpose the business for society/environmentCollaboration • Co-creation; Awareness • Climate Change
NBS Success and limiting factors
Process enablers
Knowledge Collaboration • Co-creation; Awareness • Climate Change
Governance Collaboration • Co-creation; Awareness • Climate Change
Economy De-risking • Sharing risks
Process inibitors
Economy Budget constraints • NBS not a priority
IM Keywords
  • Self-governance/grassroots initiatives

  • Local scale green area

  • Private foundation

  • Re-purpose the business for society/environment