PROJECT: Blauwe Stad

The Blauwe Stad was initiated to generate a new economic boost to East-Groningen, a shrinking region in the Netherlands. The transformation of agricultural land into a new residential and commercial development at the water’s edge was achieved by creating an ecological, multi-use living environment. 


  • East Groningens is a largely monofunctional agricultural area in the periphery of the Netherlands and is traditionally well known for its grain. However, the mechanization of the agricultural industry caused massive reductions in employment. 
  • This technological shift, but also the shift towards a more knowledgable service based economy, led to the permanent shrinkage of population. This caused significant problems with economic stability.


  • The aim was to diversify the regional economy by installing new leisure-based economic activities and attracting affluent and skilled people to venture to The Blauwe Stad from the western part of the country.
  • Increase the value of existing land which as at a serious disadvantage from the quality of the soil.


  • The 1.350 hectares of farmland available had problems with the waterlevel and the quality of the soil.The value of the land could only increase.
  • The site had an ideal smooth curved form which made the creation of a lake possible.


  • Transforming the land into a new landscape which consists of the main element, a large artificial lake.
  • Stimulating economic activity by attracting people and investments to move from more wealthy regions in The Netherlands and Germany, to the province of Groningen. 
  • Providing unique living environments for The Netherlands by offering large, water-orientated plots with a high level of freedom and choice of building. 
  • All houses were to be built with ecological and recreational facilities.


  • 800 hectares was flooded with an average depth of 1.30 meters to create the lake. The lake was the identity and the spatial theme of the new area.
  • 350 hectare was made ready to construct a nature reserve. Initial plans were aimed at 1470 exclusive dwellings. 
  • A wide spread campaign initiated to advertise the project.


  • Poor sales of plots and some negative publicity surrounding The Blauwe Stad had a huge impact on the organization. Three private construction companies left the consortium leaving 3 municipalities and the province of Groningen behind.
  • After the community reform, the three municipalites turned into one and created a new identity. The province and municipalities are currently at a severe disadvantage to invest in other projects.
  • Adjacent villages benefited economically due to tourism. 
  • The economic model of Blauwe Stad is now considered a long-term process. The hope is that patience and time will help the economic strategy of ‘Blauwe Stad’ for a longer period of time.
  • The Blauwe Stad has become an example for the need to plan and design rural development differently. 
  • By 2006, the Dutch housing market had slowed down. This had a significant influence on the influx of new inhabitants to the area.

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Project info




1999 - 2051


De Blauwe Stad was initiated to generate new economic impulses to Oost-Groningen, a shrinking region in the Netherlands. The main intervention is the transformation of agricultural land into an ecological, multi-use living environment.


The intended effect of the projects was to attract wealthy people to stimulate the regional economy. In the end house sales were disappointing and the effects are on a smaller, more local scale.




Government, Municipality of Oldambt (fusion of 3 municipalities before the project), Private investors