Paris Proof Block? Yes we can!

Prototype metropolitan multifunctional building M4H Rotterdam

Due to climate escalation, GROUP A and its think tank CARBONLAB asked themselves the question: With the knowledge of today, can we design and realize a metropolitan, multifunctional building within the Paris Proof budget of 2024? And within the budgets of 2030 and 2050? Design research provided insight into what is needed and to what kind of architecture this could lead. Our motivating answer is: Yes, we can build Paris Proof! Read the press release.

Integral sustainability: The design integrates urban planning, ecological, social, architectural, material and installation aspects to the maximum extent in order to achieve the lowest possible GWPa.

Compact: Within the frameworks of the zoning plan, a compact urban block is designed. A high density on a relatively small area, without going extremely high. This minimizes the use of materials per m2.

Maximum lifespan: Based on the principles of the zoning plan, a solid was designed: a building that can change its function with little intervention. In this way the life span is prolonged as much as possible.

Regenerative: The inner courtyard of Paris Proof Urban Block opens up to the Keilehaven and will be part of the tidal park. Facades and roofs provide space for plants and animals to settle. This way, the urban block becomes part of and regenerates a local ecosystem.

Sun and shade: Windows on the sun facades are slightly larger and windows on the shadow facades slightly smaller to minimize heat loss. Access is achieved collectively by placing galleries on the most sunlit facades. So in summer sunlight does not enter directly into the living spaces and it stays cool whereas in winter sunlight does enter directly and the living spaces warm up naturally.

Social: While there are no private balconies, there is a generous living gallery where users can sit, play, work and eat. Rooftops serve as collective gardens for recreation and to grow vegetables together.  In times of small households and loneliness, Paris Proof City Block facilitates encounters.

To every question, multiple answers are possible. Therefore, two different routes to Paris Proof M4H were examined:

Built to Last: This building is designed to last at least 300 years on site and uses heavy, solid materials. The resulting thermal mass plays a key role in creating a comfortable indoor climate. The materials are to be sourced and produced within a radius of 100 kilometers from the location. Therefore, the focus is on fast-growing fibers such as lime-hemp and on reusing existing waste streams as much as possible.

Footloose: This building will last at least 150 years, is fully de- and remountable according to Stewart Brand’s circularity layers. This allows it to change locations if necessary. The beneficial qualities of wood and other biobased materials are maximally used to enable a comfortable indoor climate with as little technical support as possible. Materials can be sourced and produced throughout the EU.

Installation reduction: By integrating material, design and comfort concept, both versions have strongly reduced needs for technical installations. This saves energy (lower grid connection values, solution grid congestion) and GWPa.

The Paris Proof Urban Block demonstrates how Paris Proof ambitions for 2030 can be achieved with today’s knowledge. It illustrates how this can lead to very different solutions, and the opportunities it holds for the building sector and the Netherlands. If you want to know more, contact us!



Initiative GROUP A


Research into the technical and architectural potential to realize a complex and multifunctional building within the DGBC Paris Proof budget for embodied carbon (GWPa) of 2030 and of 2050


M4H port area Rotterdam


18.000 sqm


Multifunctional building that can facilitate offices, residential, hospitality and small maker spaces


March 2024

In collaboration with

ABT-Lüning, Aveco de Bondt, De Urbanisten, DGMR

The makers of this project

Folkert van Hagen

Folkert van Hagen Architect | Partner

Willem van Genugten

Willem van Genugten Sustainable Business Developer

Bailey Gardien

Bailey Gardien


Dennis Berger

Dennis Berger Architect

Ehab Al Haddad

Ehab Al Haddad Designer

Maarten Lever

Maarten Lever Architect | Projectleader

Jakub Wysocki

Jakub Wysocki Architect

Mary Lou van den Berg

Mary Lou van den Berg Architect

External stakeholders


Aveco de Bondt





Building physics


Landscape designer

De Urbanisten