Buildings that are good for your health. Managing Director of C2C ExpoLab Michel Weijers, project manager of Venlo City Hall will explain how and why cradle to cradle is the future during TEDxVenlo at the Maaspoort Theater on November 7th.

There’s no place like home
After studying political sciences at the ‘Katholieke Universiteit’ (now Radboud University) in Nijmegen, Michel worked in roles within the municipalities of Helmond and Rotterdam before making his way back to Venlo. “Getting outside of my comfort zone by moving was the best in terms of my career.” But moving back to Venlo was a true homecoming for Michel. “The quality of life is much better here.”

A different approach, part 1
His first assignment was the restructuring of the city centre of Tegelen and Blerick. “I immediately sat down with the residents of both towns. They actually live there and should have a say in the process. I speak dialect, I connect with them because I am one of them; ‘unne Belfeldse jong’ (a boy from Belfeld, red.). I noticed that external project planners did not click with them the same way.”

Cradle 2 Cradle
Cradle to cradle means manufacturing good products by upcycling. Products that are manufactured without polluting the world but also products that aren’t hazardous for our health. Buildings that provide an enhanced quality of life, like the new Venlo City Hall. The facade, which is made up out of greenery, for instance increases the quality of air with 30%. The building is almost entirely self-sufficient in terms of energy. The project is so innovative that Maastricht University and the University of California, Berkeley are currently doing research into the quality of work and life of the building on its employees.

“Yes, and…”
Still, making Venlo City Hall a reality wasn’t an easy feat. “We all wanted to set an example, a lot of people were enthusiastic but there is always a risk involved. Especially when it involves taxpayer’s money”. Weijers had to convince the ‘yes, but…’ people. “I empathise with this reaction but I don’t want to live my life that way.”

A different approach, part 2
For Michel cradle to cradle doesn’t mean pointing or wagging fingers at people. I enjoy consuming and developing. We just have to do it in the right way.  It’s okay to use energy, it just has to be the right energy. Than it’s okay to enjoy comfort and pleasure:  “Look, I get the best ideas while taking a shower, so I don’t want to take a short shower just because that would ‘save’ the world.  I’m not saying we need to take away the little pleasures in life. We just need to find solutions that create added value.”

A way of life
As for Weijers, he is still working for the municipality but combines it as the MD for C2C ExpoLab. “It’s the best of both worlds; two days a week I focus on implementation and mind setting and the other three days I am working on the market and consumer side of C2C.” His goal for TEDxVenlo is to make C2C personal, inspire people to invest time and effort so eventually, we start to ask the right questions and we really quantify what quality is worth to us, so we can all start reaping the benefits.

Catch a glimpse on the future of healthy architecture and therefore, life at TEDxVenlo on November 7th. Register now!