Swimming pool transforms into City of the Blue Economy

A disused tropical swimming pool in Rotterdam has been transformed into a prime  example of a Dutch solution for the circular economy. The huge dome was once a popular place for kids to have their birthday parties amongst the palm trees, but now houses several small, sustainable businesses.  After a thorough reconstruction, BlueCity is ready to open its doors to the public, with an Open House on 26 November 2016.

BlueCity interior

BlueCity interior

Nothing goes to waste

BlueCity is becoming a green jungle on the waterfront, right on the edge of the Rotterdam city centre. The businesses under the dome have connected their waste cycles to create a new economy. In other words, nothing goes to waste.


Swimming pool Tropicana closed its doors in 2010. The building was left empty for several years, until Dutch start-up company Rotterzwam moved in. Rotterzwam sustainably grows and sells mushrooms. The company came up with a plan to go far beyond mushrooms and start a whole circular city. Investor Wouter Veer then bought the building for 1.7 million euros to develop it into the BlueCity.

The initiators based their plans around the idea that the linear economy is a thing of the past. Raw materials are scarce while the world has a waste surplus. BlueCity wants to do something about this by experimenting with closing cycles.

Entrepreneurs, scientists, government, universities and even the community are all invited to contribute. BlueCity offers office space for small businesses and lab facilities for researchers. Waste from the local neighbourhood will also be collected for various projects.

Restaurant and shops

Part of the old pool has already become a restaurant. The food in restaurant Aloha is prepared with products from the BlueCity itself, and the waste will, in turn, be re-used by the other entrepreneurs.

For example, Rotterzwam’s mushrooms are grown on coffee grounds from an inhouse coffee brewery. The mushrooms are then prepared in the restaurant. The coffee bean shells are also used as a natural sweetener in the kitchen and even in their own beer brewery.

And BlueCity is not all about food. A furniture maker, a leather company and a fair trade fashion shop have also taken up residence. And a designer calls on people who live in the neighbourhood to bring plastic waste, which will be recycled into all sorts of products, such as bird nests.

Government pledge

BlueCity is an example of the initiatives Dutch companies and institutions are becoming involved in as they move towards a circular economy. The Dutch government has pledged to achieve a 100% circular economy by the year 2050.

Read more about BlueCity (in Dutch).
The English site is not up yet.