Written by: WEAll Youth Zwolle Hub

A rainbow over a house

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We are the WEAll Youth Zwolle hub, existing of currently four members (but hoping for more people to join! ☺). Louise, Charlotta and Anna from Germany and Cosima from Switzerland. We all study “Global Project and Change Management” in Zwolle, the Netherlands. 

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On the 7th of November we did an excursion to the earth ship (Dutch: Aardehuis) village, located in Olst, a 15 min train drive from Zwolle. Charlotta frequently saw it during her train rides and wanted to find out what the town was about. 

Olst - Strobouw Nederland

One of the aims of WEAll Youth is to inspire by showing the possibilities of an alternative system which is determined by social and environmental wellbeing. While exploring Aardehuis, we saw that the town and their way of living fits into the Wellbeing Economy paradigm as this living community tries to live in harmony with the local environment and aims to create minimal nature destruction, showcasing how co-creation takes form. It is an astonishing example of what you can reach with the right mindset and a great community, which is the biggest success factor of this project.

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History

The aardehuizen in Olst was inspired by Earthships of architect Michael Reynolds. The first Earthships date back to the ‘70s. Discarded materials and local building materials determine the buildings which are designed for off-grid living. Architect Michel Post of Orio Architecten have modified the design to meet Dutch rainy and temperate conditions. The families who were planning to move in there had the chance to uniquely design the shell of the house and the interior outlay that was specifically tailored by the architect to suit the family’s needs. What is fascinating is that the people who now live in the houses were the people who built the houses hands-on, even though nobody had experience in building these kinds of houses. Therefore, a lot of research was necessary to begin with. Volunteers from all over the world helped build the homes and everyone specialized in one task since nobody had skilled experience. Within 3 years of shift work from 2011 until 2014, where everyone helped one day a week, all the houses were finally finished. 

The houses 

It’s obvious the town is one with nature, and it’s almost like a little green gnome village, since it also has a community house and a community garden. Through having monthly meetings an atmosphere of being a large family is created. All of the energy is generated through solar panels. The town is connected to the electricity network in the city and distributes overproduced electricity or brings underused electricity back to the grid in case the production is not high enough. Therefore, no batteries are needed. There is also a large water filter for the whole village and the houses are designed in a way that most of the time no artificial heating is necessary. Every household uses some sort of composting toilet system. This preserves thousands of litres of drinking water on a yearly basis. The compost keeps precious minerals at the local area and is re-purposed on the ground. 

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Conclusion

The people who live there have everything they need and more. A connected space is being created, based on sustainable habits which creates a deeper wellness and inspiration for many.  As the village has been there for quite a while now it became a flagship for the city and their expertise is requested by a lot of other interested and like-minded people. The movement towards ecocentric living is growing and the aardehuizen in Olst are part in shaping the social aspect of the Wellbeing Economy. 

Do you know similar housing projects in your area? We’d love to hear about them! 

Let us know via weallyouth@gmail.com

Find out more here: http://www.aardehuis.nl/en/ 

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