Circular + Triangle of cities

S3H-BTK Eo Wijers competition

This research by design was the winning entry for the Eo Wijers Competition. The plan aims to realise a circular economy for the Stedendriehoek (‘The Triangle of Cities’) and to become energy neutral by 2030! This is a highly ambitious, complex project. The S3H-BTK project presents the tools and guidelines required to complete this marathon challenge in record time.


The theme of the tenth Eo Wijers Competition focussed on the reconceptualisation and reuse of energy. The global transition to low-carbon energy sources will have an impact on economies and environments comparable in scale to the Industrial Revolution, and can provide a competitive edge for businesses and regions. In this vein, the Stedendriehoek region aims to embrace this challenge and become energy neutral by 2030. But what are the effects on the local urban landscape?

Energy neutral by 2030

For the Stedendriehoek (S3H) to achieve energy neutrality by 2030, it is necessary to think in the larger scale and to design a system whereby processes of energy conservation and generation complement each other.

S3H-BTK shows how a broad transition process activates and enriches the urban landscape

The S3H-BTK plan combines capital market forces and green economic initiatives to introduce: the BTK. The BTK is a tax regime that infiltrates into the fabric of society and elicits grass-roots innovation and optimisation. It also produces social shifts: cyclical chains, single to multiple value creation, possession and purchase for reuse and borrowing, accessibility to proximity. In S3H-BTK we show how, through this broad transition process, new relationships can be formed which activate and enrich the entire urban landscape.


New economic realities

The S3H-BTK plan demonstrates the effectiveness of this initiative in spearheading a new economic reality, through the maximisation of ‘renewable’ capital in the region:

  • Natural capital: water, soil, raw materials and renewable energy sources;
  • Logistics capital: energy-efficient network for people, goods, waste and residual materials;
  • Social (knowledge) capital: hamlets and clean tech manufacturing environments as hotspots for interaction and innovation;
  • Cultural capital: protecting heritage and the monitoring of area quality for cultivation and development.

Garden of the randstad and ruhr region

The driving force of businesses, residents and (energy) cooperatives can only be exploited if restrictive legislation is cleared. With a clear vision the region can develop as the garden of the Randstad and the Ruhr region.


Regions that are able to close cycles through the intelligent use of the landscape and social capital, organise effective transport services and, simultaneously, create an attractive living, working and recreational landscape, will have an immediate competitive advantage. The ‘triangle of cities’ possesses the correct size and scale to develop into a strong circular economy. It will, however, need to look at the concepts of ‘urban’ and ‘rural’ in a different way and must adopt new strategies associated with economies of scale.

Specialisation and upscaling

The new regional map features new agro-industrial clusters throughout the ‘triangle’. Only through this type of large-scale cooperation between ‘urban’ and ‘rural, can this region develop a truly sustainable economy. These ‘clusters’ create space to produce renewable energy on a large scale – agricultural residues such as wind and solar energy can be harnessed to provide electricity to the built environment.

Self-contained neighbourhoods

This regional approach is contrasted, and complemented, by smaller, self-contained neighbourhoods and estates. In these more contained locations, a high-degree of self-sufficiency by the BTK is rewarded by economic advantage. Energy Cooperatives have the capacity to meet the energy needs of their local townships (mainly) through the harnessing of geothermal heat. Thus, through the use of small-scale biomass cultivation, energy requirements can be met without damage to the wider natural environment.

Energy forest on the Veluwe

By choosing deliberately to focus on the development of nature as a source of both recreation and productivity, a forest reserve is integrated into the design, which can house a large amount of wind turbines.

Submitted posters Eo Wijers competition

Attractive cityscapes by hanseatic values

Our S3H-BTK design demonstrates how the triangle can achieve competitive advantage by focusing on the ‘Hanseatic Values’. Careful consideration of these values (public, private and consumer) is necessary to give the S3H the necessary momentum to achieve their sustainability goals. The result: an attractive cityscape; a changed, but strong economy that produces about 90.000 extra jobs and, additionally, drastically reduces CO2 emissions. Well… what are we waiting for?


In September 2015, H+N+S participated, with the other winners of the Eo Wijers Competition, in a series of follow-up sessions, which further considered the designs and how they could be integrated into a practical, future vision for the Stedendriehoek.