For nine months, blogger Lotje Hogerzeil worked toward the moment when the winner of the Student Challenge would be announced. But despite her beautiful scale model, the competition from Wageningen took off with the prize.
Dear jury members, the Evergreen Tower, by design and utilisation, will make residents, plants and resources connect in innovative ways. It ensures Bajes Kwartier will become the healthy, sustainable and indeed cohesive neighbourhood Amsterdam deserves. On behalf of team Evergreen, thank you very much.
You could wake me up at any time of the night, and I would be able to reproduce these words. They have rushed through my head so often, I practiced them in front of the mirror so many times, and my friends and family have had to listen to them to such extent. For days, I went to bed with these words and got up with them.
On 28 August, we pitched our idea to a few hundred people in the Waaierzaal: proud parents, friends from near and far, potential business partners, enthusiastic professors, and half a hall of interested people of whom I had no idea where they came from.
Together with Florian Becker, one of our designers, I was chosen to sell our concept to the jury in three minutes’ time. Exciting, but also one of the most awesome things I have done for the challenge. The feeling of being able to show the design of the team you have been struggling with for 9 months to an audience is truly a huge release.
Cohesion was central in our Evergreen Tower. We did not only design smart climate rooms for modular plant production, idyllic, green communal areas everyone in Bajes Kwartier can meditate, pick fruit and meet each other, supported by a circular business plan. We absolutely wanted these components to be strongly connected, so we also designed a cryptocurrency exclusively for the residents, to strengthen social cohesion and to connect all separate parts of the design.
The competition was killing. I was very impressed with the other designs. One team had gone all out with their architectural design and had absolutely fantastic visuals; another team had come up with the most ingenious circular resource system I have ever seen; and one of our competitors from Wageningen had fully gone with energy-extensive food production: snails, mealworms and seeds.
No matter how convincing Florian’s and my expressions of the words above were, no matter how beautiful our scale model was, GreenWURks – one of our Wageningen competitors – took off with the prize. I was able to see their design process from up close: not only were they located in the office next to ours in Atlas, but in recent months, we have also become the best of buddies. On the one hand, during all this time, I saw them as our best friends who went through the same rollercoaster rise that we did, but on the other, I saw them as our strong competition. They came up with very clever things, and they fully deserved winning.
Disappointed? Not one bit. We worked very hard with a super cool team of the most diverse people, experiencing all corners of the world of urban farming and greenhouse horticulture, and we created a design that breathes blood, toil, tears and sweat. If given the chance, I would immediately participate in the Greenhouse Challenge again. But first, I need to chill out – a lot.