Productive Urban Landscapes

Research and practice around the CPUL design concept

Almere Oosterwold’s masterplan (source: MVRDV 2022)

Almere Oosterwold, The Netherlands

Almere Oosterwold is an experimental town development situated 30km east of Amsterdam. It became a municipality in the 1980’s and has since grown into a 1000 house community. The principle is ‘You can do (almost) anything you want, but you have to organise it yourself.’ The design of Almere Oosterwold includes 59% of the land to be urban agriculture. Each development is surrounded by either urban agricultural land or public or private green spaces. The landscape is a continuous green, with urbanism trickled throughout.

Aerial shot of an area already developed within Almere Oosterwold, buildings are surrounded by larger areas of grass and foliage and windmills can be seen in the background. (source: African Journal of Landscape Architecture 2022)

Almere Oosterwold became a municipality in the 1980’s and is still developing (source: MVRDV 2022)

The project is still developing, with thousands more houses likely to be built. The architect behind the masterplan is Winy Maas who has been involved in all elements of the project. The ‘free to do what you want’ system offers a way of living with a new feeling of liberty. It does require effort to be put in though. Residents are allowed to design their homes however they want, and don’t need permissions before building. This almost guarantees that the town of Oosterwold will look very unique and be home to many peculiar buildings. Residents need to develop their own infrastructure including waste systems, water storage, energy supply and public parks. The vision is as this becomes a collective the community can invest together into large scale systems and components that will serve more than their individual homes. There are some limitations in Almere Oosterwold when planning and building your development. You must maintain 59% of your land as agricultural, 18% can be constructional, 8% can be roads, 13% to be public greens, and 2% given to water. These limitations maintain the rural character of the area and ensure the city can be self-sufficient.

This model teaches us a lot about how to design a potential CPUL city from scratch but can also inform us on the wellbeing of a population within this type of integrated urban-agricultural habitat.

Architect’s image of the vision of Almere Oosterwold showing agricultural lands opposite a home (source: MVRDV 2022)

The future vision of Almere Oosterwold continues to allocate the majority of the land to agriculture (source: MVRDV 2022)

Architect’s image of the vision of Almere Oosterwold showing the importance of water for productive urban landscape developments (source: MVRDV 2022)

MVRDV believes water to be of high importance for productive urban landscape developments (source: MVRDV 2022)


For further information see the project’s own website.

Image: Almere Oosterwold’s masterplan (source: MVRDV 2022)


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* circular cities* green infrastructure* urban agriculture* urban designThe Netherlands

Jasmine Cook • 2nd December 2017

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