Adobe Stock/Evgenia Tiplyashina

Outside of Amsterdam, the ReGen village is transforming the suburbs, says Fast Company's Adele Peters. The farmland will be turned into a new kind of neighborhood with vertical farms to feed residents, and will run on a number of sustainable practices--food waste will turn into fish feed for on-site aquaculture, houses will filter rainwater, and a “village OS” tech platform will use AI to simultaneously manage systems for renewable energy, food production, water supply, and waste. The 50-acre neighborhood is entirely self sustaining.

“We can connect a neighborhood the way it’s supposed to be connected, which is around natural resources,” says James Ehrlich, founder of ReGen Villages. If the project raises the final funding needed to begin construction, what is now a simple field will have new canals, wetlands, and ponds that can soak up stormwater (the area is seven meters below sea level, and at risk for flooding) and attract migrating birds. The land will be planted with trees, gardens, and food forests. Vertical gardens inside greenhouses will grow food on a small footprint. The 203 new homes, from tiny houses and row houses to larger villas, will provide needed housing in an area where the population may double in 15 years. The houses range in cost from 200,000 to 850,000 euros.

As cities become increasingly expensive and crowded, Ehrlich believes that this type of development may become more common. “In the last few years, we’ve really seen that the market has shifted and that there’s a hollowing out of cities,” he says. “They are really expensive and the quality of life is going down, and as much as millennials or younger people really want to be in the city, the fact is that they can’t really afford it . . . the trends are really moving toward this kind of neighborhood development outside of cities.”

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