Living in the Green Village is never boring
The tiles in front of the door are submerged in water every week. Sometimes a curious building suddenly appears behind your home, to be gone again the very next day. At times, you can see a self-propelled car drive by. And the media are constantly knocking on the front door. Living in the Green Village is never boring “It is much more than just a room," says Veerle Van Engen, who lives in one of the four DUWO properties in the Green Village.
The homes have been here since last autumn, and the tenants are allowed to stay here for one year. After that, they will have to make room for new tenants. Veerle has been living in the living lab on the south edge of the TU district since September. Max van Deursen came in October. His front door opens via an app on his smartphone. “Look, do you see this?" he asks once we are inside. He moves his finger over a line in the app. “Now I'm turning on the light. I can do everything with this app, even turn on the heating.”
Test homes and guinea pigs
The homes of Veerle and Max and their two fellow tenants form one of the nearly 50 special experiments carried out in the Green Village. They are test properties in which all kinds of sustainable innovations are examined and tested, with the tenants functioning as 'guinea pigs'. For example, the homes have been fitted with solar panels and are gas-free, narrow water-saving sewage pipes are being tested below the ground, and tenants can use ‘smart', super-efficient pay-per-use washing machines. The materials used also radiate sustainability in every sense of the word. “All materials have been given serious thought,” says Max. “The wood used to build the home, for example, has been processed in a sustainable way, without chemicals, and the wooden parts are constructed in such a way that the house can easily be adapted to other purposes in the future."
Veerle, studying for a master’s degree in Industrial Design / Strategic Product Design at the TU, and Max, in his fourth year of his bachelor studies on Public Health Sustainability at Leiden University, were both selected from more than 100 applicants after a long selection process. They live in different houses. Veerle's home has huge windows along the entire length of the room, while Max's home looks like a Swiss chalet because of the many wooden elements.
They are very happy with their special homes and their place in the Green Village. “This is just such a unique place,” says Veerle. “So much research and so many experiments are carried out here and there are always interesting people around. It's great that you can observe it all from your room. Do you see those tiles outside? They are also part of the research. Every week, a huge water system submerges them in water and then drains the water again, to test how well the tiles can channel water. And sometimes, you'll suddenly see an autonomous car drive along. I find this a very inspiring and educational place.”
Max is very interested in sustainable housing. He has long been concerned with sustainability, first as a youth delegate in the UN Sustainability Committee for two years, and then in his studies where he initiated a project related to sustainable travel. “To examine alternatives for flying, I travelled to Malaysia by train. I was interested in the politics and the travelling, and then I read about the Green Village. That seemed like an excellent opportunity to gain more knowledge about sustainable housing, so I applied.”
From his window, Max has a view over remarkable research as well. “One day, they began building something strange behind my house, something with funny glass tubes," he says. “I really had no idea what it was, but it turned out to be a swing. It was taken down the next day again. What has that got to do with sustainability? They are researching the possibilities of construction that uses glass. Glass is much more sustainable than concrete, which leads to high CO2 emissions. Glass is manufactured with sand and is recyclable. It is used in that bridge out there as well. They used glass tubes with steel in them to make that bridge. This place is one big playground for innovations.”
A tiny house
The place and the house itself are of great added value for both of them. Veerle: “In terms of living, it is very beautiful here. The location is perfect, quiet, in the middle of nature, but close to the TU and not too far from the city centre. It has just that little extra compared to an ordinary student home or student flat, especially given the fact that you can contribute something as a tenant. If I had to choose between a beautiful old student flat in the city centre or this, I would choose this. At least for now…."
Max lived in three different student flats before he came here. “But this is definitely the best place to live," he says. “A tiny house like this is very good if you are in your final year as a student. A lot is expected of you and when you get to the final phase of your studies, it's nice to have a quiet place all to yourself to study. Other than that, I think this is just a great site and I love that everyone who works here is concerned with sustainability. When my friends or relatives come to visit, we always take a walk around the grounds. You could say that I give them a tour.”
They do not experience nuisance from the experiments. Although prospective tenants are expressly asked to be flexible (there may suddenly be a power failure or the day may come when you have to leave your home in a rubber boat), it actually isn't too bad. Veerle: “We have tenant meetings during which experiments that could cause nuisance are announced. But they really do take us into account a lot. Certainly during exam weeks."
DUWO takes care of the letting and hopes to gain useful knowledge in this way that can be used for its own sustainability policy. The rental prices are fine. “They are self-contained homes, so you are eligible for a rent supplement,” says Max. “Living is far from expensive here.”