100 Houses for Helmond

Real-life urban lab

Real-life urban lab

UNSense is currently in the process of carrying out a feasibility study and forming a consortium to realise a residential area of 100 Houses in Helmond Brainport Smart District, that will operate as a Living Lab.

In this real-life test environment, containing 100 houses that cater to a cross-section of society, UNSense will investigate how data can be applied to improve people’s lives in cities, while allowing the inhabitants to take contol over their own data. The 100 Houses project is part of the urban vision our parent company UNStudio has designed to make the Brandevoort District of Helmond ‘The Smartest Neighbourhood in the World’.

Control over data

With digital technologies becoming increasingly woven into our living environments, the discussion about privacy and data ownership is becoming ever more relevant. This discussion is often conducted from an ethical perspective, while data also carries a social value. The current digital business model is usually lucrative for tech giants, but less advantageous for the majority of (local) companies, organisations and individuals. In response to this monopoly by big tech companies, the Living Lab aims to investigate new business models and technologies that are based on the principle that the residents and communities benefit from their own data.

By considering data-sharing as ‘labour’ that requires to be rewarded and compensated, we want to explore alternative economic models which enable the residents to benefit from this data-sharing process (source: Eric A. Posner & E. Glenn Weyl, Radical Markets, 2018). Data then becomes a tool which is controlled by the residents themselves, and provides a variety of services they can benefit from, in the fields of mobility, joint energy generation, retail and food production/ distribution.

The desired outcome is to increase quality of life for the inhabitants and self-sufficiency of the community as a whole, by managing the basic facilities through technological innovations. In this way we aim to create a neighbourhood that is healthy, on physical, social and environmental levels.

Trusted body

The aim is to investigate new standards and better regulations on a level playing field for residents, (local) service providers and the government, making it possible to create new (local) business models. Within these new business models, being and remaining anonymous is a fundamental right, but it is also possible to profit from individual or collective cost reductions, efficiency and services through the principle of data exchange.

To do this responsibly, UNSense has established a Board of Ethics, which serves as an objective advisory body on control over data, privacy, regulations and any commercial gain for the end user. We are also working with Tilburg University to investigate the (im)possibilities of data exchange as an underlying model.

Over the next 6 months, UNSense will carry out a feasibility analysis on the Brainport Smart District experiment. Simultaneously we are building two consortia to realise the controlled real-life test environment: a Building Consortium and a Data & Services consortium.

Scalable solutions

The Living Lab is part of the UNSense vision to create cities that are healthy, both on a social and on an environmental level; cities that remain accessible and affordable to all individuals.
UNSense wants to develop systemic solutions that are scalable. The test environment is set up as a representative sample of Dutch society, so that the results can be scaled up to other cities. The determination of this standard is being done in close cooperation with the University of Tilburg and will also determine the scale of the project and the composition of the families that will live in the homes.

Collaboration with UNStudio

UNSense’s 100 Houses Living Lab is one of the experimental projects taking place within the larger urban vision designed by UNStudio for ‘The Smartest Neighbourhood in the World’, which is currently being developed in Helmond’s Brandevoort District in the Netherlands. Rather than as a pre-determined fixed plan, UNStudio’s urban vision describes a flexible grid that is developed per the users’ demand.
For more information about UNStudio’s urban vision for Brainport Smart City, click here.