BlueCity – Circular incubator

BlueCity is an international icon of the circular economy, a national platform for sharing circular knowledge and a local accelerator for circular entrepreneurs. Situated in a deserted swimming pool in Rotterdam, BlueCity serves as a 12.000 m2 breeding ground for innovative, sustainable and circular start-ups and scale ups. Inside this ecosystem of entrepreneurs, waste streams are valuable building blocks; the output of one is the input for the other. By sharing resources, knowledge and talent, BlueCity helps them to grow from intention to impact, thereby creating a much needed and inspiring example of the circular economy.


From swimming paradise to model city

Being located in a former tropical swimming paradise, BlueCity actively creates new functions, meaning and value to a building that was once considered ready for demolition. In 2017, the office wing was completed, followed by the transformation of the machine rooms into production areas in 2018. And in 2020 the long awaited BlueCity Lab was officially opened in the place where the changing rooms used to be.

The entire transformation from swimming paradise to model city is done as circular as possible. 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 are 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.

“Since we started in 2015, we've grown from 'a bunch of crazy people in an abandoned swimming pool' to the hub of the circular economy in the city and the region.”

Sabine Biesheuvel, managing director and co-founder of BlueCity

Accelerating circular transition

The biggest challenge in transitioning to a circular economy is that it doesn’t scale – or at least not fast enough. By accelerating 35+ innovative entrepreneurs, connecting them to big corporations and working with a wide variety of partners, BlueCity showcases that change is possible. At the same time this process also exposes the challenges entrepreneurs face, which provides us with valuable insights with regards to the difficulties of transition on a bigger, (inter)national scale.

In this way, BlueCity accelerates the international transition through local entrepreneurship. Furthermore, BlueCity supports municipalities, companies, and corporations 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). In 2021 BlueCity launched their virtual online tour.