The Brainport Smart District (BSD) is being developed in Helmond’s Brandevoort area in the Netherlands
UNStudio has outlined its plan for what it claims will be ‘the smartest neighbourhood in the world’.
The Brainport Smart District (BSD) is being developed in Helmond’s Brandevoort area in the Netherlands by UNSense, UNStudio’s sister company.
In July 2018, UNStudio was selected to translate the ambitions of Brainport Smart District into a spatial plan.
UNStudio says: “Rather than as a pre-determined fixed plan, our urban vision describes a flexible grid that is developed per the users’ demands.”
"Rather than as a pre-determined fixed plan, our urban vision describes a flexible grid that is developed per the users’ demands.”
The BSD initiative will also explore new ways for citizens to control and trade their data.
Over the next ten years, the BSD will develop approximately 1,500 new homes and 12 hectares of business premises within a ‘living lab’, a mixed residential neighbourhood organised around a central park and surrounded by business spaces and natural reserves.
The ambition is to create a “sustainable, circular and socially cohesive neighbourhood”, which features joint energy generation, food production, water management, digital data management and revolutionary transport systems”.
The team notes: “BSD will not be designed first and built afterwards. Instead, design and construction will go hand in hand through step-by-step development. This new district aims to contribute to the creation of a sustainable and unique living concept, one which embraces ‘learning by doing’.”
One interesting aspect of the BSD project is its goals around data.
UNStudio wants to explore data-sharing as ‘labour’ that requires citizens to be rewarded and compensated for their data.
“We want to explore alternative economic models which enable the residents to benefit from this data-sharing process."
“We want to explore alternative economic models which enable the residents to benefit from this data-sharing process,” the team says. “Data then becomes a tool which is controlled by the residents themselves, and provides a variety of services they can benefit from in the fields of mobility, joint energy generation, retail and food production/distribution.”
UNSense has established a Board of Ethics, which will serve as an objective advisory body on control over data, privacy, regulations and any commercial gain for the end user.
“We are also working with Tilburg University to investigate the (im)possibilities of data exchange as an underlying model,” the team says.
UNSense plans to carry out a feasibility analysis on the Brainport Smart District experiment.
This comes at a time when data ownership in smart cities is high on the agenda. The Sidewalk Toronto initiative in Canada, for example, has been criticised for its lack of clarity around data management, among other things. It is a joint effort by Waterfront Toronto and Google-owner Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs to develop a new kind of mixed-use community on Toronto’s Eastern Waterfront.
UNStudio is collaborating with a number of parties on the plan, including Felixx Landscape Architects & Planners, (ecology and landscape), Metabolic (Circularity and climate adaptation), Habidatum (data analysis) and UNSense (data and technology strategy).
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