Prototyping the Circular City Game

A brief report on our first prototyping session with real stakeholders for Play the Circular City - Buiksloterham

On Monday August 17, we hosted the first Prototype session of Play the Circular City - Buiksloterham at our office in Amsterdam-Noord to test out the preliminary concept-development of the game and generate feedback for the game’s further development.

The following players were in attendance:

- Frank Alsema (Citylab Buiksloterham, Self-Builder)
- Maxim Amosov (Clean Tech Researcher)
- Niels Bon (Projectmanager, Eigen Haard)
- Debbie Beitsma (Innovations, Eigen Haard)
- Peter Dortwegt (Citylab Buiksloterham)
- Saskia Muller (Citylab Buiksloterham)
- Lena Niel (M.Sc. Urbanism, TU Delft)

prototype bsh : game table

Phase 1

After a brief introduction, the players started with the first step of the Game: Compiling a Business Case in Buiksloterham. To do this, they were each given a Business Case Menu and a spreadsheet with various Clean Tech innovations to include in their projects.

The circular economy is all about integration and cross-over of various sectors of the urban environment. This is why we are designing the Menu in such a way that Players can initiate their projects in either the Building, Energy, Water, or Waste sector. From their first choice, they will then run through each of the other sectors to complete their project.

prototype bsh : game cards


FA, a self-builder, starts in the Building sector. He chooses to Build Housing and specifies the size of his project. He then moves through the other sectors: Energy, Water, and Materials & Waste. In the Energy sector, he chooses to both Use Energy (from the renewable grid) as well as Generate Energy (using solar panels). For Water, he chooses to Harvest Water using a Green Roof, as well as Use Water by connecting to the regular grid. Finally, in the Waste sector, he chooses to Dispose Waste in the regular manner.

prototype bsh : game play

Quite quickly, players moved outside of their Building sector to think about how their project could deal with the other three sectors: Energy, Water, and Materials & Waste.

Could a self-builder also Generate Energy, and if so - how much? Could she generate enough to Provide Energy to her neighbours as well?

What if a housing corporation decides to Collect Organic Waste from the neighbourhood in order to Generate Energy through a biomass reactor?

Phase 2

After the players had compiled their business cases, they took turns to place the corresponding game pieces onto the Table and explain their projects. After each player presented their project, the Game Master, Legal Advisor, and Technical Advisor each commented on the viability/legality of the project and suggested adjustments if necessary. This phase of the Game was by far the most lively and engaging. Players exchanged information about legal procedures and asked each other questions. The interaction with the Game Master and Legal Advisor were helpful for Players to realise what is actually possible in BSH and what sorts of obstacles they might encounter. Moreover, as Players heard about each other’s projects, opportunities for collaboration became clear.

prototype bsh : discussion


LN wants to build a Hotel in Buiksloterham. This Hotel would also have a Restaurant which gets its food from an Urban Farm which is located on the same plot. The organic waste from this Urban Farm would be used to generate energy using a bio- mass reactor. The project would also have a rainwater harvesting system and this rainwater would be used for irrigation. Finally, the project would be plugged into both the ‘renewable electricity’ and the ‘harvested grid’.

Legal Advisor:
 There might be some issues with setting up an Urban Farm, because technically there is no room for “agriculture” in BSH. It would be fine as long as it is only for private use.

Game Master:
 Plugging into ‘harvested rainwater’ and ‘renewable electricity’ grids depends on the actions of other players. These options only become possible when there is at least one player providing them.


A very productive and engaging first session! Players suggested a number of changes to the interface and provided valuable input on a number of legal and technical issues.

In short: the co-creation process continues - get in touch if you want to be a part of it!