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Construction of SAWA Rotterdam has started

Construction of SAWA – the first ever 50-metre-high circular wooden residential building in the Netherlands – has begun. During a festive gathering on 18 November, the symbolic starting signal was given for the construction of this iconic residential building on Rotterdam’s Lloydpier. A resident of SAWA, the municipality of Rotterdam, the developers Nice Developers and ERA Contour, Mei architects and planners and the investor Focus Real Estate together filled a special SAWA planter with a selection of plants that will eventually have a place on the building’s green terraces. This planter was handed over to ” Tuin op de Pier “, a green neighbourhood initiative right next to the construction site. They will manage the planter until SAWA is completed. This is expected to be at the end of 2024.

Header photo f.l.t.r.: Eric Dijkhuizen (Tuin op de Pier), Freek Boeijen (Focus Real Estate), Jos Melchers (Gemeente Rotterdam), Robert Winkel (Nice Developers + Mei architects and planners), Mark Compeer (Nice Developers), Bianca Seekles (ERA Contour), Jeroen Heijdra (ERA Contour) Wim Verschoor (ERA Contour), Ron Zwinkels-Machielsen (bewoner SAWA)
Photographer: ©Jerry Lampen

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Inclusive for residents and birds, butterflies, and bees

SAWA will house 50 mid-rent homes, 20 free-sector rental homes, and 39 owner-occupied homes. All new residents will soon live in a sustainable wooden building full of greenery, where no less than 700 linear meters of planters with 19 different types of plants will be found in the facades and on the deck of SAWA. As well as a multitude of habitats for birds, butterflies, and bees. Thanks to this flora and fauna, SAWA enhances biodiversity and ties in with the existing ecological structure of the area. Especially in the urban and largely stone environment of the Lloydkwartier, SAWA adds value to the entire neighbourhood.

“In a few years, the Lloydpier has gained Rotterdam’s first wooden residential tower, with lots of greenery. SAWA is the proof that it is possible to make a sustainable building with affordable houses that is also built in a circular way. That has simply not been done before in this city.”

Chantal Zeegers
Councillor for Climate, Construction and Housing
© Beeldenfabriek

Building in wood in a unique way

SAWA is made 90 % of CLT (cross laminated timber), and the use of concrete is kept to a minimum. This is special, because concrete is normally poured on CLT floors, but not at SAWA. “On the CLT floors in SAWA, we use dry ballast, so the building is fully circular and thus detachable. This is unique for a 50-metre-high wooden building”, explains Robert Winkel of Nice Developers and Mei architects and planners.

“SAWA is a particularly innovative project. Because SAWA is built of wood, it does not emit CO2 but actually stores CO2. The construction of SAWA alone will store 5,000 tonnes of CO2. We are therefore making a huge contribution to CO2 reduction and thus to combating climate change”, says Jeroen Heijdra, director at ERA Contour.

The CLT parts are largely delivered prefabricated and then assembled on the building site. This ensures fewer operations on the building site itself, resulting in little inconvenience and clean construction.

For 1 SAWA tree, 4 are planted back

“The wood for SAWA comes from sustainably managed forests in Germany. In the forest, mature trees are selected for felling and only these trees are removed. The forest and biodiversity on site is thus preserved. For every tree needed for the construction of SAWA, four different species of trees are planted back”, says Mark Compeer of Nice Developers.

Award-winning project

Even before SAWA is in place, the project wins several prestigious international architecture awards. “This international appreciation ensures our team that we really are working on something special”, says Robert Winkel. “The conviction and decisiveness to not only design but also realize a revolutionary concept like SAWA is fuelled by the ambition to contribute to reducing CO2 emissions, strengthening biodiversity, achieving (inter)national climate goals and at the same time creating affordable housing. With SAWA, we are developing a new icon for the city of Rotterdam. An example for future generations of builders and developers.”

SAWA avondimpressie van terras met mensen
© Beeldenfabriek

Collaborating partners

Nice Developers and TBI company ERA Contour are developing SAWA. ERA Contour is also responsible for the construction of SAWA. Mei architects and planners has been commissioned to design this apartment building. Focus Real Estate is the investor of the rental flats.

More information about SAWA or about homes still for sale in the project can be found at

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SAWA terraces from the square