BlueCity – Circular incubator

BlueCity is an international icon of a circular economy, a national platform for circular entrepreneurs, and a very visible local accelerator that empowers circular entrepreneurs and inspires citizens. Its goal is to stimulate entrepreneurship and to contribute to the innovative culture in Rotterdam. By programming and doing, BlueCity puts circular themes on the agenda and connects small scale initiatives to the citizens of Rotterdam as well as big corporations.



The greatest problem in the transition to a circular economy: it doesn’t scale – or at least not quickly enough. By accelerating 30+ innovative entrepreneurs, connecting them to big corporations and working with corporate partners in Living Labs, BlueCity shows on a local level that it is possible to change and what the counterforces are, e.g. legally and fiscally. This gives invaluable insights into the problems of transition on a bigger, (inter)national scale. In this way, BlueCity accelerates the international transition through local entrepreneurship. Also, they help municipalities, companies, and corporates to transform or re-design their waste streams into new products or services. BlueCity facilitates expertise, R&D, production space for prototyping, circular talent, network and programs to boost circular business which is scalable and healthy (in all kinds of ways).

BlueCity is also a partner in two European projects: Plastic Twist, which aims to revalue recycled plastic, using blockchain technology. And Wastefew (Waste Food-Energy-Water Urban Living Labs) which aims to map and substantially reduce waste in the food-energy-water nexus in cities across three Europe, Africa, and South America.

From swimming paradise to model city

BlueCity is located in the former tropical swimming paradise Tropicana in Rotterdam. Innovative, sustainable and circular entrepreneurs are now establishing their businesses between the slides and hot tubs, giving the remaining 12,000-m2 space new functions, meaning and value. In 2017, the office wing was completed in an old disco and the renovation of the changing rooms and machine rooms began. These are being turned into additional production areas and are due to be ready during the course of 2018.

During the building of the office wing, the construction team — consisting of Superuse Studios, Coup, BIKbouw and Theo Mostert — used blue, circular principles: 90% of the materials were locally ‘harvested’ and reused. This saved a total of 60 tons of CO2 – the equivalent of driving eight times around the world and the amount which 2400 trees absorb in a year. A striking element in the former disco is the red cedar window frames. These frames, originating from a demolition site, form an impressive façade which is just right. For this transformation, the building was nominated for the Rotterdam Architecture Prize 2017 and received the ARC 17 Innovation Award.