Nagele Energy Masterplan

The design for Nagele addressed the post-war reconstruction effort through a radical new urban form and the implementation of new construction techniques. Nagele could once more serve as an example for the challenge of our time – the energy transition – by adding a complementary layer to the original endeavor.

the energy transition as a cultural challenge

The transition from fossil- to renewable energy is complex and imposing. Illustrative of the scope of this challenge is the difference in energy density; where coal contains around 6.667 kWh/kg, photovoltaic cells produce a mere 1,4 kWh/m2/day. The combination of these figures with our projected energy consumption produces a geography where the human habitat and energy production are deeply intertwined.

The expansive man-made Noordoostpolder offers an array of energy and material landscapes necessary for a fossil-free and circular economy

aerial view of Nagele, 1962
(Het Nationaal Archief)

The question to resolve this transition in the village of Nagele adds a cultural dimension to this challenge. Not only must the transition be reconciled within the social micro cosmos of a functioning village, Nagele happens to be one of the most renowned, purely executed and best-preserved examples of Modernist architecture in the Netherlands.

While tempting, the addition of solar panels, double glazing and thick layers of insulation would make Nagele unrecognizable as the pole-bearer of the post-war reconstruction effort. Where the original architects addressed the reconstruction effort through a radically new urban form and the implementation of new construction techniques, Nagele could once more serve as an example for the challenge of our time – the energy transition – by adding a complementary layer to the original endeavor.

Architects discussing the design of Nagele, while acting in the film ‘Een nieuw dorp op nieuw land’ (A New Village on New Land) by Louis van Gasteren, 1960.
(Photo Spectrum Film, Amsterdam, Collection Het Nieuwe Instituut)

back to the future

Nagele as we know it is a built snapshot of a rich and ongoing design process involving architects such as Gerrit Rietveld, Mart Kamerling, Mien Ruys and Aldo van Eyck. The numerous and well-documented design iterations reveal the core concepts behind the design and offer suggestions on how to incorporate profound change in this monument of Modernism.

As such, a design iteration dating from 1953 shows us that the central green space accommodated different forms of program in its role as the main public space of the village. Similarly, the reciprocal development of this central collective space (core) with the peripheral residential clusters (district) offers a tremendous conceptual opportunity to connect the expansive sourcing of energy with the social fabric of Nagele.

But perhaps the most important aspect must be the relationship between Nagele and its surrounding landscape. Nagele is the architectural exponent of the Noordoostpolder as a man-made territory, resembling the polder in layout and precision. This relationship was manifested in Aldo van Eyck’s design for the forest fringe, connecting the protected residential with the windswept agricultural.

Nagele Energy Masterplan

Nagele Energy Masterplan is a framework which connects different energy initiatives to the social and spatial fabric of Nagele. It aims to reinvigorate the economic relationship between Nagele and the Noordoostpolder in the legacy of its original design principles. At the core of this masterplan lies the reciprocal development of collective facilities in the village core and large- scale energy production beyond the forest fringe.

A zoning scheme welcomes an array of energy landscapes to the forest fringe of Nagele. Simultaneously, the unique dimensions of the central green space provoke its redefinition into an innovation campus, fostering exchange between residents and entrepeneurs. Between ‘core’ and ‘district’, a reworked version of Aldo van Eyck’s path design is both real and a metaphor for the newfound relationship between village and landscape.

core vs. district, preservation vs. innovation

1) innovation campus, 2) forest housing typology, 3) light energy landscape, 4) heavy energy landscapes

a reworked version of Aldo Van Eyck’s path design connects energy landscapes with campus and residential clusters

innovation campus

The central green space was once conceived as a gathering place for different walks of life, containing an array of churches and schools. Nagele Energy Masterplan aims to give this space new meaning, charging it with new use and users. Innovation is fueled through efforts on the part of regulation and the promise of a fertile dialogue between population and innovative entrepeneurs. Once the cradle of the post-war architecture reconstruction effort, Nagele can once more serve as a ‘living lab’ for the challenge of our time.

The central green space is redefined as an innovation campus. The spatial design for this collective space draws on the rich design history of Nagele.

Aldo van Eyck’s never-executed path design connects the central green space with the expanses of the Noordoostolder. In a secondary hierarchy, a new path system connects residential clusters with one another. As such the forest can be reinvented as a meeting and recreation space.

Project Details


2017 – 2018


Energiek Nagele, Rijksdienst voor Cultureel Erfgoed


Nagele, Noordoostpolder


competition entry, finalist


FABRICations (co-architect), Protix


Auguste van Oppen, Evert Klinkenberg, Ryan Dougan, Henry Holmes


Het Nieuwe Instituut, Het Nationaal Archief