SAWA Wins 2023 Architizer Sustainability Award

SAWA Wins 2023 Architizer Sustainability Award

ROTTERDAM, 30 May 2023 - Renowned for its innovative architectural developments, Rotterdam adds another accolade to its record, with a local project, SAWA, having received the Popular Choice recognition in the 2023 Architizer A+ Sustainability Award.

Honouring sustainable designs

The A+ Sustainability Awards, a branch of the prestigious Architizer A+ Awards, aim to celebrate and encourage the most sustainable architectural projects globally. This year, SAWA, a residential project still under construction, was selected amongst five finalists in the "Unbuilt Sustainable Residential Project" category, after assessment by an esteemed jury of international sustainability experts. Votes cast by Architizer readers from May 1 to May 12 determined the popular choice winner.

SAWA: Pioneering sustainable residential architecture

SAWA is being recognised as a ground-breaking design, even before its construction is complete. The aim behind SAWA (meaning 'together' in Surinamese) is to create a zero-carbon building contributing to climate change solutions and promoting a healthier future.

The project introduces the concept of a "shared value" to the neighbourhood and city, fostering elements like carbon storage through wood construction, enhancing biodiversity, shared spaces including a vegetable garden on the deck, and the creation of affordable, circular residences where individuals care for each other and nature. The scheme comprises 109 dwellings, each with spacious green terraces averaging 40 m². Shared amenities such as mobility options, tools, and a public deck vegetable garden aim to cultivate a vibrant, caring community.

The construction's innovative factor lies in its certified Nice building system, positioning SAWA as the first demonstrable example of a 50-meter-high residential building in Europe entirely constructed from wood in a circular manner.

SAWA Wins 2023 Architizer Sustainability AwardSAWA Wins 2023 Architizer Sustainability Award

Understanding the A+ Sustainability Awards

The Architizer A+ Awards, known as the most significant award scheme lauding the finest architecture globally, has introduced the A+ Sustainability Awards this year. Recognising that the design and construction industry is responsible for almost 40% of the world's carbon emissions, the A+ Sustainability Awards are intended to acknowledge architecture and design firms proactively working towards a more sustainable built environment.

Directions to SAWA

SAWA is located in the heart of Rotterdam's Lloydkwartier, a vibrant, mixed-use neighbourhood on the Maas river's right bank. The area is well-served by public transportation, with numerous tram and bus routes, and a short distance from the city's central train station. Rich in history and character, Lloydkwartier offers a unique blend of renovated heritage buildings and modern architecture.

Rotterdam named world's top sustainable city in 2023 index

Rotterdam named world's top sustainable city in 2023 index

ROTTERDAM, 24 May 2023 – A new development in the world of sustainable travel has put Rotterdam at the forefront. The city has been identified as the leading global destination in the 2023 City Index for Mindful Travellers, curated by travel search engine KAYAK.

Kayak City Index

In the aim of aiding travellers in making informed and sustainable choices, KAYAK's City Index for Mindful Travellers has been published as an interactive guide. The index facilitates the consideration of sustainability aspects when planning a journey. This guide includes factors such as airport CO2 accreditation, local transport options, and air quality.

The index comprises popular city destinations worldwide and has analysed 167 cities in 63 countries based on 28 factors. This comprehensive evaluation allows travellers to make more informed decisions about their trips. Furthermore, the results of the Index can be personalised and filtered according to the factors travellers deem most important.

Why Rotterdam and Amsterdam lead the pack

Rotterdam, Amsterdam, and Graz form the top three cities in KAYAK's index. Rotterdam achieved a perfect score of 100, marking it as the prime destination for sustainable travellers. This recognition is attributed to the city's advanced CO2 management system at the airport, certified by the Airport Carbon Accreditation, a significant number of affordably priced accommodations qualified by's Sustainable Travel programme, and the city's efficient public transport and impressive network of cycle paths.

Amsterdam, with a score of 93, secured the second position. The city is renowned for its bike-friendly nature and car-free streets, along with good options for environmentally friendly rental cars and ample EV charging points. Graz in Austria is the third-ranked city, scoring 91 thanks largely to its excellent train system, numerous EV charging points, and a car-free UNESCO World Heritage city centre.

Acknowledging the achievement

Peer Bueller, Chief Financial Officer at KAYAK, expressed his admiration for the Netherlands' performance in this international ranking. He stated, “It is impressive to see the Netherlands emerge as a leader in this international ranking. We perform well amid fierce competition across Europe. This achievement is the result of years of effort by the Netherlands to promote responsible travel. Travellers can now reap the benefits when exploring Dutch cities”.

The complete top 10 list

According to KAYAK's City Index for Mindful Travellers, the top 10 cities are:

  1. Rotterdam, Netherlands
  2. Amsterdam, Netherlands
  3. Graz, Austria
  4. Trondheim, Norway
  5. Munich, Germany
  6. Helsinki, Finland
  7. Stockholm, Sweden
  8. Zurich, Switzerland
  9. Gothenburg, Sweden
  10. Vienna, Austria.

Sustainable travel beyond Europe

While the Netherlands and Europe are performing exceptionally in the rankings, it does not imply that the rest of the world should be overlooked by conscious travellers. Several notable mentions across regions include Vancouver in Canada, commended for its air quality; Tokyo in Japan for its local markets, theatres, and art galleries, often accessible only on foot or by designated cycling paths; Santiago in Chile, recognised for the largest drop in flight prices in the off-season and excellent CO2 management at the airport; and Tunis in Tunisia, leading in the Middle East and Africa, offering many close-knit markets for second-hand goods, thereby immersing travellers in local culture while supporting the local economy.

Directions to Rotterdam

For those interested in visiting and experiencing the sustainable city of Rotterdam first-hand, the city is conveniently located and easily accessible from various parts of the Netherlands and Europe. Rotterdam's advanced public transportation system, including trains, trams, and buses, makes it easy to navigate the city. The city is also known for its extensive cycling paths, perfect for those who prefer to explore on two wheels.

The city's general area is marked by its modern architecture, bustling port, and numerous green spaces, offering a unique blend of urban development and sustainability. Rotterdam is home to the world-renowned Erasmus University and several museums, including the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and the Kunsthal, adding to the cultural richness of the area.

Urban development in Crooswijk with biobased wood construction

Urban development in Crooswijk with biobased wood construction

ROTTERDAM, 24 May 2023 – An innovative housing concept is set to transform Crooswijk, a district of Rotterdam. Led by KAW architects, this initiative aims to develop biobased wooden homes that are both affordable and sustainable, providing a solution to the complex urban challenges of our time.

A vision for a sustainable Crooswijk

In the near future, multiple sites within Crooswijk are to be filled with these biobased wooden homes. KAW's novel wooden housing concept promises to yield significantly less CO2 emissions, offering a sustainable and affordable alternative for residents. The plan also includes various measures to alleviate heat stress, create buffers for rainwater, enhance biodiversity, and improve public spaces.

To ensure minimal disruption to residents during the construction phase, a tailored approach is being implemented.

KERN by KAW: A sustainable housing concept

The ideas behind this ambitious project were initially conceptualized for biobased developer Boombuilds. The principle, known as KERN by KAW, comprises a ready-made core or supporting 3D module for modular wooden construction. This module houses all installations, wet rooms, and facilities, thus creating a flexible and cost-effective foundation for home layout. The approach enables an open, loft-like interior design.

Urban development in Crooswijk with biobased wood constructionUrban development in Crooswijk with biobased wood construction

Partnering for a greener future

KAW, in collaboration with the Slokker Bouwgroep, is applying the innovative 'Natuurlijk Crooswijk' wood building concept to create an aesthetically pleasing living environment that contributes to a healthy indoor climate. This concept offers numerous environmental benefits, including less harmful emissions during the construction process due to the reduced need for transport movements.

Enriching the community

The housing concept is designed to optimally utilize the capacity of the district, thereby providing affordable homes for both current and future Crooswijk residents. The additional living space created will also serve to cater to different segments and broaden the housing offer.

Urban development in Crooswijk with biobased wood constructionUrban development in Crooswijk with biobased wood construction

A tailored approach

Drawing from previous successful projects, KAW is planning to approach this renovation as a series of subprojects, allowing for the step-by-step development of processes and construction techniques. This approach ensures that the needs of the residents are prioritized while also providing opportunities for learning and adaptation.

Preserving character and embracing change

Where possible, existing homes will be renovated. For locations where this is not feasible, KAW aims to restore the street pattern and align with the existing character of the district. The current dominance of parking in public spaces will be addressed, with an integrated urban development plan being drawn up in cooperation with the Rotterdam municipality.

Urban development in Crooswijk with biobased wood constructionUrban development in Crooswijk with biobased wood construction


Crooswijk, a historic district in Rotterdam, is easily accessible by public transport. Rotterdam Centraal Station is a mere 10-minute drive away, while several bus and tram lines service the area. Crooswijk is a vibrant community filled with a mix of modern and historic architecture. The district boasts a variety of local shops, cafes, and green spaces, providing a quaint charm amidst the bustling city of Rotterdam.

Revitalising Merwehaven: A peek into Rotterdam's future

Revitalising Merwehaven: A peek into Rotterdam's future

ROTTERDAM, 24 May 2023 - In a landmark move, the rough port of Merwehaven is set to be transformed into a bustling and sustainable living and working district in Merwe-Vierhavens (M4H). The district's future, underpinned by a masterplan submitted to the city council today, encompasses housing, work, and harbour activities, ensuring a sustainable and circular approach to urban development.

A Glimpse into the Future of Rotterdam

Alderman Chantal Zeegers, responsible for Climate, Building, and Living, announced the ambitious vision for Merwehaven, stressing its significance in Rotterdam's future. “Merwehaven is the starting point for the future of Rotterdam,” said Zeegers. “An energetic, sustainable, circular, and green area where one can live, work, and recreate. In Merwehaven, the city and harbour merge. The robust, historical environment is a unique place to live and serves as a breeding ground for creative entrepreneurs.”

Emphasis on Sustainability, Circularity, and Climate Adaptation

The new buildings in Merwehaven will have as low an energy consumption as possible, achieved by designing sustainable buildings and implementing a smart energy system. This system will focus on generating, storing, and exchanging energy to prevent unnecessary energy consumption.

In the area's development, the environmental impact will be kept to a minimum by working circularly. Existing buildings will be preserved wherever possible, and materials will be reused in a high-quality and local manner. Developers are also encouraged to design and build future-proof buildings during tendering processes.

Space for Cyclists and Pedestrians

In line with the vision for a greener city, slow traffic will be prioritized in Merwehaven. Parking will be centralized, freeing up space for a green city district with more room for cyclists, pedestrians, and dwellers.

Rotterdam Makers District

Merwehaven is part of the Merwe-Vierhavensgebied (M4H), a district set to transform into a vibrant city part with housing, restaurants, events, education, and culture. M4H is the site of innovation for the new sustainable economy, with entrepreneurs and educational institutions collaborating on technical innovations for the future of the city and harbour.

The Road Ahead

With the masterplan now submitted, the next phase of development can commence. Preparatory work is expected to begin in 2024, with the first construction activities slated for 2025.

How to Get There

Merwehaven is located in the M4H area of Rotterdam, easily accessible via public and private transport. The area is historically robust, offering a unique living environment and serving as a hub for creative enterprises.


Revamp of Rotterdam Central Library: Provisional design revealed

ROTTERDAM, 17 May 2023 – The blueprint for the anticipated transformation of the Central Library in Rotterdam has been formally delivered to the city council, ushering in the next phase of this multimillion-euro project.

Provisional plans for the Rotterdam Library remodel

The Central Library is the primary location among the 21 branches of the Rotterdam Library. After nearly 40 years of heavy use, the current Central Library, which opened in 1983, is in dire need of renewal. The provisional blueprint comprises two segments: the remodel of the Central Library on Hoogstraat, and the interim housing on Librijesteeg. The city council is to decide on availing the required investments amounting to 160 million Euros. Following this decision, the preliminary design will be developed into a final design.

Collaborative effort and community involvement

Rotterdam Library and Rotterdam Municipality are actively collaborating throughout the process. Stakeholder organisations, library patrons, and city dwellers have also been encouraged to share their thoughts through city dialogues.

The final design of the temporary housing is expected to be ready by the coming autumn, and the final design of the revamped Central Library by the end of the year.

Revamp of Rotterdam Central Library: Provisional design revealedRevamp of Rotterdam Central Library: Provisional design revealed
Revamp of Rotterdam Central Library: Provisional design revealedRevamp of Rotterdam Central Library: Provisional design revealed
Revamp of Rotterdam Central Library: Provisional design revealedRevamp of Rotterdam Central Library: Provisional design revealed

Creating a city living room

The design team from Powerhouse Company, Atelier Oslo, and Lundhagem has outlined the new Central Library based on last year's sketch design, to which Rotterdammers contributed.

Sustainable design

Sustainability is a key aspect of the new design, with the reuse of the concrete structure preventing substantial amounts of CO2 emissions.

Temporary housing on Librijesteeg

During the library's renovation phase, from autumn 2025 to autumn 2028, the library will be housed in the municipal office building on Librijesteeg 4.

Information market on 13 June 2023

The city council, upon reception of the blueprint, is expected to deliberate on it before the summer. It is noted that residents interested in the renovation are welcomed to view the project at an information market hosted in the library on Tuesday, 13 June, from 4 pm to 8 pm. An information market will be held at the Central Library on Tuesday, 13 June for anyone interested in the provisional design.


Visiting the Rotterdam Central Library

The Central Library is located on Hoogstraat. The temporary housing during the renovation will be at Librijesteeg 4, about 200 meters walking distance from the current location.


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