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Bram de Vos

Driving Dutch Design – Bram de Vos

By 13-08-2021

ONE WEEK ABOUT Driving Dutch Design by curators Patrick Aarts Sen (BNO) and Katja Lucas (DDF)

Driving Dutch Design is the professionalisation and networking programme of ABN AMRO, Beroepsorganisatie Nederlandse Ontwerpers (BNO) and Dutch Design Foundation (DDF) that helps talented designers get started in the world of entrepreneurship. Bram de Vos is one of them.

Uprooting Agro-Systems radically re-envisions Amsterdam as an eco-city of the future.

In the scenario designed by Bram de Vos, the Waterland district which connects to Amsterdam Noord would become an agricultural production, storage and distribution hub. Bringing the city to self-sufficiency.

How could you supply food to an urban population without relying on a global food chain and industrial monoculture?

Different agricultural techniques and technologies are combined in this system – from the growing of the crops, to the storing and distributing of them, the city would be provided for all year round.

This is not a ‘one-solution-solves-all’ but rather an optimal combination of various systems: Syntropic Farming, Food Foresting and Vertical Farming.

Each has their own benefits that outweigh downsides. Where one approach comes with a disadvantage, another one has a backup. For example, Syntropic Farming offers production efficiency and biodiversity and Food Forestry is able to grow large varieties on limited space, needing little to no maintenance. But neither are reliable in the winter months. This is why Vertical Farming is integrated – with an artificial climate, it produces “all year round” and on a consistent output.

The richness and biodiversity of the Food Forest would also work to purify the urban air – acting as the ‘lungs’ of Amsterdam

In the proposed ‘Food Forest’, standard harvest machinery could not be used, which is why drones are employed – they can be programmed to harvest crops at the optimum time.

‘Buy-local’ has been a rallying cry for a few years now, but how could you supply everything for an urban population year-round?

“Using a mix of methods is crucial” says de Vos. “People have often tried to find the ultimate utopian system, but when we look at history, these systems have revealed their negative sides over time.” What he’s referring to is the so called “Green Revolution” that started in the 1950s when industrial agriculture really took off. Today, he says, these agricultural methods have reached their ecological limits.

He is convinced that with his proposal, it is possible to make a whole city self-sufficient. His ambitious plan would transform a whole district of Amsterdam, the Waterland, into an ecological power house where most of the needed food is produced.

Those who have been to Amsterdam know about the dense network of canals that span the city. It’s the ultimate distribution system when combined with the excellent cycling infrastructure. It would also make it very transparent and easy to understand where your ingredients come from — you might even run into the farmer that produced last night’s aubergine.

For more information about the participants, the programme and registration, please visit