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In response to the recent Circular Society seed call focused on Urban-Rural Circularity, a number noteworthy projects have been initiated. Among them is the Collaborative Circular Residency Network (C3RN), which embarks on extensive research in Frederiksoord, Drenthe. With the support of funding from the alliance, C3RN aims to co-create sustainable circular solutions.

C3RN: Sustainable circular solutions

The Collaborative Circular Residency Network (C3RN) is composed of a team of researchers from Eindhoven University of Technology, Wageningen University & Research, and Utrecht University. Their primary focus revolves around the research and implementation of circular, nature-based designs. They are particularly interested in the potential of both human usage and nature’s involvement, also known as more-than-human design. C3RN actively seeks to engage individuals from diverse backgrounds. To achieve this goal, they are engaging locally with the newly formed association known as DE PROEF campus in Frederiksoord, Drenthe.

DE PROEF campus Frederiksoord

In 1885, Frederiksoord became home to the very first horticultural school in the Netherlands. The school operated within the premises and gardens of a previous pauper colony. There, students received practical education in the field of horticulture. In 2021, Frederiksoord’s remarkable historical significance led to its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Unfortunately, by 2005, Frederiksoord had deteriorated significantly. The horticultural school had relocated to Meppel, leaving the monumental buildings vacant. The responsibility for maintaining the gardens fell upon volunteers, while nature gradually reclaimed the abandoned structures. This situation faced considerable criticism from the surrounding community.

Following several unsuccessful attempts to develop real estate on the site, an initiative called DE PROEF emerged in 2020 with the aim of revitalizing this exceptional location. DE PROEF is a collaborative association of multiple stakeholders. Together, they are dedicated to transforming the former horticultural school, now known as ‘DE PROEF campus,’ into a vibrant space for diverse projects in the fields of art, culture, ecology, and education.

A unique circular innovation hub

With the support of the alliance’s seed fund, C3RN is establishing its presence within the DE PROEF collective. The objective is to create a distinctive hub for circular innovation, hosting a range of transdisciplinary research projects. It provides researchers with a platform to explore novel advancements in the field of circularity.

As part of the project, four participants are going to be chosen to take part/ participate in a residency program situated at DE PROEF campus. The residency program offers participants a valuable opportunity to engage in long-term research focused on exploring how circular design can foster an enriched symbiotic relationship between humans and nature.

An exceptional feature of the residency program is the collaborative approach to research. Actively engaging companies, partners, and the communities associated with DE PROEF campus, the program actively encourages their participation in the research process. Participants in the residency program organize workshops where they present their research ideas and facilitate transdisciplinary discussions with all stakeholders present. This allows for immediate adaptation of the research methodology and design based on valuable insights gained from these discussions.

With this approach, C3RN strives to create an environment encouraging the exploration on the frontier of circular design research. The emergence of novel methodologies, innovative modes of thinking, and fresh circular designs is expected to pave the way for future research initiatives.

DE PROEF’s initiative has not gone unnoticed in the media. RTV Drenthe recently made a feature on it.

Researchers involved: Oscar Tomico (TU/e), Dr Oogjes (TU/e), Clemens Driessen (WUR), Ineke Nel (WUR), Elyze Storms-Smeets (WUR), Sietze Norder (UU)