The project

2500 sheep graze in the Rotterdam metropolitan area, keeping the grass short in public spaces. The thousands of kilos of wool they produce are almost worthless in the Netherlands and are burned or shipped to China. Unbelievable, thought sheepherder Martin Oosthoek, in a time of raw material scarcity and climate change, which led to the project The Soft City. The Municipality of Rotterdam asked Christien Meindertsma to research what wool of this quality could be used for. It turned out to be suitable for blankets, jumpers, woolly hats, upholstery and sound insulation. With creativity and perseverance, Christien worked together on The Soft City and ensured that people now see Rotterdam’s sheep wool as a raw material instead of waste.


Expert panel

From mess to yes, or rather: Rotterdam Circulair. The Soft City uses wool as a metaphor for the soft values of your city. It makes the theme of circularity transparent and concrete for its residents. It’s great that the municipality dares to tackle and propagate this through design. They were smart to ask Christien Meindertsma for this: as soon as she starts telling a story, you start believing in it. Applying her characteristic, investigative approach to many steps means that as a client you must dare to manage uncertainty, which is certainly not self-evident for a municipality. This shows that Rotterdam understands the power of good design and uses it effectively.

— “With The Soft City, Rotterdam shows that the circular city is not an empty ambition for them, in a valuable collaboration with super researcher Christien Meindertsma.”

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