Every month, The Groundbreakers puts an inspiring initiative, product or company in the spotlight. By sharing knowledge and inspiration, we want to stimulate sustainable developments and we hope to contribute to the greening of the business community. This time we would like to highlight the Court of Cartesius in Utrecht. The Groundbreakers team was given a tour of this circularly built workplace. Finally, we did a workshop at the second-hand hardware store Buurman Utrecht.

Wish for a creative hub

The Hof van Cartesius is a creative breeding ground around an inner garden, located in the Werkspoorkwartier in Utrecht. At the time, the municipality organized an open call to give the former Cartesius Business Park, a strip of land between the railway and a business park, a new purpose. The desire arose to transform it into a creative hub.

Sock puppets and Hof beers

You don't just rent such a space at the Hof, you are part of a cooperative of creative and sustainable entrepreneurs and you are even co-owner of the whole. For example, each tenant can finish his or her own facade, which ensures fun and recognizable residual products that give the visitor a hint of the activity behind this facade. In this way, each space has its own identity.

The Court of Cartesius consists of a total of 110 entrepreneurs and various committees to keep the Court running. There are entrepreneurs who are involved with wooden wedding rings or sock puppets, but also worm specialists, sustainable hairdressers and, for example, circus artists. The entrepreneurs themselves call the collective nature of the workplace a big plus that contributes to a healthy environment to work in, which also improves the quality of the work you deliver.

Such a collective and social character ensures that problems are converted into useful, instructive and also tasty solutions. For example, the gardener discovered when tackling the garden that there was a lot of Japanese Knotweed in the garden. That is seen as a weed that is difficult to get rid of. During lunch the idea arose to make a Hof beer out of it!

Featured: Neighbor Utrecht

Neighbor Utrecht is one of these entrepreneurs. They have a workshop and hardware store for the reuse of materials. They work with building materials that are normally seen as waste and give them a second life. They are a DIY store, but you can also have sheet material cut to size or rent tools from them. Furthermore, they take orders; you design, they make. They also help a new generation of makers on their way. And we were able to get a taste of that with a team workshop for circular construction.

Circularity and sustainability

The spaces of the Hof are built in a circular manner for 90%. In addition, the Court generates their own electricity (40,000 kWh) and there is no gas. The 1000 m2 buitenruimte waar alle gebouwen omheen staan, heeft een eigen wateropvang, eetbare planten, wormenhotels en het Hof composteert hun eigen groenafval. Een inspirerend voorbeeld van een duurzame werkplek.

Would you like to know more about the Court of Cartesius or the entrepreneurs? Check it out https://www.hofvancartesius.nl/.