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A culture of technology is enhancing our hard-wired human needs for nature and community. New projects are spotlighting these trends and developing best practices that will hit a neighborhood nearby soon, responding to growing consumer demand.

A half-hour commute from Amsterdam, a piece of farmland is slated to become a new kind of neighborhood. Vertical farms, along with traditional fields and orchards surrounding homes, will supply food to people living there. Food waste will turn into fish feed for on-site aquaculture. Houses will filter rainwater, but won’t have driveways. 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, which will be nearly self-sufficient as it collects and stores water and energy, grows food, and processes much of its own waste, was initially planned for construction in 2017. The developers, called ReGen Villages, struggled with red tape–the area, on a piece of land that used to be underwater but was reclaimed in the 1960s when a seawall was constructed–has regulations that make it difficult for someone other than an individual homeowner to build on land that is mostly used for farming now. But after the project finally got government approval this month, it’s ready to take its next steps.

“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.

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