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Province of South Holland


Province of South Holland


September 2021- March 2021


Marco Broekman, Basia van Rijt, Geert Das, Yara Alnashawati


Research by design for sustainable development of working areas with high environmental impact


Stec Groep




Screenshot 2021-09-21 at 10.09.14.png

: intensifying high environmental impact areas

BURA urbanism and Stec group worked on a research by design project for the Provincie Zuid Holland. How can HMC areas develop in order to function optimally and keep their essential role in the regional ecosystem?


HMC areas are essential in the Netherlands, because of their important role in the development to a sustainable and circular future. However, HMC areas are often outdated, accommodate a variety of industrial activities, are enclosed by water or rail infrastructure and use their plots extensively. At the same time, because of their environmental impact, HMC areas often form a barrier for housing plans and densification ambitions of the city.

As a result, pressure for change of HMC areas is increasing, because cities are densifying within their city boundaries because landscape is regarded as scarce and valuable. For that reason, it is important to understand their capacity for change in order to accommodate new functions, be more sustainable and be an added value for their environment and potential new users. How can working areas with a high environmental impact (HMC) keep their economic value and contribute to a more sustainable society in future?  


According to our research outcome, the future value of HMC working areas is not only economic but the areas will also have sustainable and social values. The future working areas have their own eco system, where HMC and non-HMC companies work together. Besides that, certain profiles will give companies the possibility to network and strengthen each other. Innovation and exchange of knowledge will have the space and possibility to take place. Therefore, they will be developed in a smarter and more intensive spatial way. Expanding outside the city borders, into green area’s should not be possible anymore. By using zoning plans, HMC companies could be clustered. To achieve this, there is a need for a regional vision, more steering, new business cases and a financial strategy.


This research by design project resulted in defining four types of HMC working areas: an intensive inner-city type, extensive inner-city type, intensive rural type, and extensive rural type. In addition to the four types, a toolbox of design principles is developed. Every type of HMC working area has its own strategy.


These strategies are: ‘1. Connecting and use ecological values’, ‘2. Involve and use water bound values’, ‘3. Clustering and open-up’ and ‘4. Fitting-in and strengthening’.  The strategy is a combination of design principles that enhance the economic values, intensify spatially, make the working area more sustainable and add social values.


The Stimuleringsfond Creatieve Industrie made this research possible with the Open Call for Sustainable Economy and Spatial Planning #1.

Photo analyses of HMC companies


Design principles and strategies

HMC typologies

Regional alignment between different strategies

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