UNSense, the arch-tech company founded by UNStudio, will develop an adaptive neighbourhood of 100 Homes in Brainport Smart District, Helmond. Commissioned by the Brainport Smart District Foundation, UNSense has completed a feasibility study for the ”100 Homes Project” over the last six months to demonstrate the financial, technological and legal feasibility of the project. To bring the project to life, UNSense has brought together a wide range of partners and collaborators, including the construction company VolkerWessels, real estate developer and building company. To increase the wellbeing of inhabitants and to make life in the 100 homes neighbourhood more sustainable, an urban data platform will be developed to host services provided within the area related to housing, energy, mobility and health
Having recently been approved by the Brainport Smart District foundation, the positive results of the feasibility study mean that UNSense has officially started to take the next steps toward the further realization of the "100 Homes Project". Under the direction of UNSense, three consortia will be formed in the coming months: a building consortium for the construction of the houses and the infrastructure, a tech consortium for the construction of the innovative urban data platform and a consortium for service development.
Master plan for Brandevoort: social ambitions and circular economics
The "100 Homes Project" is part of the UNStudio masterplan for the expansion of the Brandevoort neighbourhood, a plan with 1500 permanent and 500 temporary homes, greenery and 12 hectares of business park, with the ambition to become the "smartest neighbourhood in the world". The project uses the latest technologies and insights to achieve a sustainable, energy-neutral, circular and social neighbourhood, where residents play an active role in the development of their own neighbourhood. The masterplan is designed around key pillars such as self-sufficiency through joint energy generation and local food production, future-proof water management, joint data management and groundbreaking mobility services. In this way a neighbourhood can be created that offers solutions to urgent issues such as climate change, rapid urbanization, (lack of) social cohesion, safety and sustainable mobility.
Real-life test environment: increasing health and well-being
The 100 Homes Project is a Living Lab: an ever-evolving innovative environment where data and technology is applied at a neighbourhood level to make positive impacts on the well-being of residents, socially and economically. Based on our findings, it is clear that technology within the urban landscape can lead to time, energy and financial savings associated with housing, mobility, food and health. Our goal is that by developing intelligent services that connect and adapt to the needs and consumption habits of residents, the facilities within the project will become more efficient, sustainable and affordable.
The result is that by making basic services manageable, fixed costs are reduced while (net) income increases. At the same time, time and energy is made available for other activities that are more meaningful, pleasant, important and healthier for residents. This will increase the sense of well- being, happiness and quality of life, which in turn has a positive impact on people's health. The common nature of the smart city services can also have a positive effect on the community as a whole - promoting participation, social cohesion across society while reducing loneliness. This will be a residential neighbourhood where residents can do more for each other through a common communication and service platform, developing joint initiatives to help each other.
Impact of technology
Research shows that technological progress has always had a direct influence on our daily lives - and that earlier industrial revolutions have often led to saving time, energy and money, and to an overall increase in comfort levels. The same mechanism now applies to the 4th industrial revolution. Data and smart technology are already intertwined with our daily activities. The smart phone has gradually made all kinds of daily operations easier, faster and in some cases also cheaper while the amount of available applications continue to increase. The advancement of technology (5G, IoT, sensors, AI, ML) makes it possible to further expand the domain of data to the level of the city.
Instead of separate devices - screens, phones and watches - technology will become increasingly "shy", being unnoticeably integrated into the environment.
By integrating technology into, for example, homes, cars or public spaces, daily activities (groceries, cooking, household chores) can be made easier while costs are saved. By using data you can create a neighbourhood that is circular, energy efficient and green: a place where people produce their own food and energy, and where quantities of production are adjusted to fully match the rates of consumption. The ambition of this neighbourhood is to have an intelligent and adaptive design that lowers housing costs, facilitating (electric) transport facilities are better and cleaner - making an (expensive) car in the driveway practically unnecessary. By facilitating different housing types, our objective is to creating a neighbourhood that is inclusive and attractive for a cross-section of society.
The nature of such an intelligent, learning, adaptive urban district – the Living Lab - is that precise needs and related services cannot be determined in advance. They will need to be developed with residents and understood through their use of the space.
Towards a new model for equal data exchange
At the same time, the 100 Homes Project is aimed at testing an alternative and fairer economic model in which the residents themselves, citizens and end-users benefit from the exchange of their data. The current dominant business model is based on data that consumers and small companies provide for free to technology companies in exchange for services: a structure where only tech companies benefit from the profit. 100 Homes wants to develop an alternative model, whereby residents benefit equally from data exchange.
The backbone of the new neighbourhood is formed around a digital platform, the Urban Data Platform. Unlike many existing data exchange systems, this platform uses the principle of Equal Exchange, meaning that data ownership is not controlled by one single tech company, or by a handful of them, but by the citizens themselves. By focusing on 'user consent', the residents and end users become the owners of their own data, and through the Urban Data Platform, they themselves can decide what data they want to protect and what they want to share and with which parties. By giving residents control over which data they share with whom, the basis for a new economic model of Equal Exchange is created, and residents are given control over the services that are developed around their data within their community. With a dashboard - under the management of a neutral party (the government in collaboration with residents) - the platform will provide precise insights for each user into the profit that the data exchange yields – in terms of services that meet their needs. the inhabitants, saving time, money and energy – or in terms of sales for the companies that provide those services. Ultimately, this will lead to a situation where the added value of the data exchange is equal and tangible for all parties.
Internationaal model: the livable, learning city
The 100 Homes Project has the ambition and the potential to be an international model for smart and future-proof urban developments in which people and the environment play the central role. Its development and implementation will lead to insights into how we can make neighbourhoods and cities function responsibly in the future, improving the physical, mental and social wellbeing of residents.
The urban landscape is changing rapidly worldwide. By 2050, it is estimated that more than 70 percent of global populations will live in cities. This rapid urbanization brings with it a whole series of new challenges: from increasing social isolation to enormous pressure on existing food, energy and water systems. We need to find solutions to not only survive in the cities of the future, but to also improve quality of life. A small-scale Living Lab such as the Brainport Smart District offers an excellent opportunity to validate innovative design solutions and to test their scalability.
Privacy and the Board of Ethics
Data and privacy is rightly a sensitive topic and is naturally our highest priority. In recent years, a huge amount of distrust has developed towards big tech firms. For this reason, an Ethics Council will be set up for the 100 Homes Project, consisting of scientists and independent experts from the public and private sector. It will serve as an objective advisory body on specific topics such as data ownership, privacy, regulation and financial gain for the end user. The board supervises the development and implementation of the Urban Data Platform, ensuring that laws and regulations are complied with at all times while the interests of the individual and of residents always remains paramount.
UNSense as orchestrator
The 100 Homes Project enables UNSense to further strengthen its reputation as a leading strategy and orchestration consultant with extensive knowledge and experience in targeted smart city projects. As the creator and guardian of the Living Lab concept, UNSense acts as director for all partnerships between parties during the realization process. UNSense’s business model is based on advisory services (strategy and direction), for which UNSense charges a fee to various stakeholders (UNSense customers).
In addition, UNSense is an incubator for start-ups that result from its ongoing projects. In the case of the 100 Homes Project, one such start-up could be the creation of the Urban Data Platform NewCo as well as other companies that provide services to residents. These companies must discover their own business model in line with the core objectives of The 100 Homes Project to improve the physical, mental and social quality of people’s lives in cities.
VolkerWessels Construction and infrastructure
VolkerWessels is as developer and builder the partner of UNSense in the 100 Homes Project . VolkerWessels consists of 120 companies, located in four countries. The group is active in the construction & real estate development, energy & telecom and infrastructure sectors.
VolkerWessels believes in a living environment in which quality of life is paramount. The living environment of the future is a smart living environment with socially and technologically advanced neighborhoods, which enables more connection between people. As a construction company, VolkerWessels can make a positive contribution by developing solutions to urban challenges, such as circular residential concepts, energy-neutral infrastructure or improving the air quality in buildings through integrating sensors. VolkerWessels companies SDK Vastgoed and VolkerWessels Telecom will develop and build the 100 houses and the underlying infrastructure (energy, telecom, water and sewerage). These "smart homes" form the basis for the operation of the Urban Data Platform. VolkerWessels aims to learn and develop in an innovative way, thereby contributing positively to current and future quality of life. The 100 Homes Project in the Brainport Smart District fits in well with this objective.
Brainsport Smart District Foundation
Brainport Smart District will be a smart living and working area; the urban development environment will be designed in conjunction with new technologies for digitization, transport, health, energy generation and storage and circular construction. The residents play an important role in the development of their own living environment. The neighborhood will become a real-life testing ground for the development of new systems, processes and services that find their applications in the redevelopment of existing neighborhoods, in a way that does not further burden, pollute or exhaust our planet. Brainport Smart District will be realized in Helmond, in Brandevoort in the period 2019-2029.