Except Integrated Sustainability
Except Integrated sustainability.
Flourish in a changing world.
Multi-disciplinary consulting, innovation and development organization working on advanced sustainability projects around the globe.

Shanghai Urban Masterplan

Project > Urban Masterplan embedding Vertical Agriculture

This masterplan transforms downtown Shanghai into a fully sustainable community, in energy, food, water, and jobs, designed for Expo 2013. The plan strategically interweaves sustainable innovation with exciting urban design, and making it run with urban agriculture, sustainable technologies and vertical farms. The result is a valuable and beautiful urban community, an emergent circular economy, and a future-proof investment.

The Shanghai urban master plan demonstrates the Urban Renaissance approach on a specific site adjacent to Nanjing road, incorportating a historic Lilong housing district.

Urban Cycles

The plan makes use of both the macro-economic and local benefits and problems of the Chinese economy while using solutions that assist sustainable growth and social development in otherwise chaotic and multi-faced city growth. Re-introducing the city channel a part of Shanghai’s history is used for functional and economical benefit.

An integrated solution

We propose a project that integrates several solutions to pressing problems of Shanghai, among which are pollution, traffic, replacement housing, decreasing agricultural land and runaway development, and lays the foundation for a sustainable city redevelopment. A master plan places core buildings in Shanghai’s typical Lilong social housing districts from the 1900’s which are on the brink of demolition throughout the city, and connects them through channel systems that are accompanied with bicycle and pedestrians thoroughfares.

The plan gives new viability to the Lilong housing districts, and reinvigorates the city with local urban cores that encourage local trade, social interaction and high quality affordable living environments. The cores contain mixed use urban centers activated by a program of market places, cultural facilities, public gardens, retail, commercial, residential and large scale urban agriculture. Some Lilong districts are sacrificed to create new viable conditions for others and the diagram of these Lilongs are turned inside out.

Sustainable city development

The farms clean water and air while at the same time generating energy and food and laying a foundation for a sustainable future. It provides for the basic food requirements of 50.000 people per intervention, a range of 1km in diameter. Each intervention converts one lilong district to provide new viability to three others, plus surrounding areas. Clean water is produced from the polluted Sujou creek through evaporation within the towers, and fed back into the channel system to service large districts that require clean energy and water infrastructures. Renewable energy is captured from the sun through decentralized photovoltaic arrays, and through methane generation and subsequent co-generation of biomass composting in the basement of the vertical farms. City-heating districts are powered by this bio gas providing an efficient zero-carbon system. Shanghai’s enormous agriculturally skilled labor force, that is currently largely unemployed, is used in the high-intensity vertical farms, and the urban markets integrated in the immediate surrounding converted lilongs. The local food production cuts food imports drastically and city goods transportation requirements.

Extensive research in Vertical Farms and Farming techniques, the traditional Lilong social housing districts, the city fabric and the social situation on the site made us propose this project which focuses less on aesthetic experience versus the programmatic, social and environmental response of the site.

This project is an example of a symbiotic relationships of historical sites within a city, natural application of resource generation and far-reaching infrastructural conversion towards sustainable urban areas.

Media & Downloads

Reference Projects

Boston Fort Point Masterplan

Sustainable urban redevelopment

This urban redevelopment project of the Fort Point district in Boston, MA proposes a unique strategy to reduce city-wide traffic congestion, increase livability and property values and contributes significantly to the resilience of the city as a whole.

... read more >

BKCity Slim Refurbishment

Sustainable Renovation of TUDelft's Architecture Faculty

BKCity is a magnificent listed monument of more than 30.000m2 functioning as the faculty of Architecture of the TU Delft. Except created a phased plan to make this historic educational building energy and carbon neutral within ten years.

The plan converts the building into a didactic tool that puts sustainability at the heart of education for generations of architects, introducing a unique in-building ecosystem that provides an inspiring environment, functional qualities and cost savings.

... read more >

San Francisco Transbay / Salesforce Park

World's largest ecological rooftop park

The San Francisco Transbay Center redevelopment project realizes the world’s largest rooftop park in the center of one of the world’s most exciting cities: Salesforce Park. The concept, developed by Except together with Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, restructures an existing transport hub into a beacon of beauty, biodiversity, and health.  The project started in 2007 and the park opened in 2019.

... read more >

Merredin Health Industries Spirulina Plant

Rural Regeneration Algae plant

The Merredin Spirulina plant, developed in the year 2000, is one of the first projects in which we applied systems thinking and our holistic, systemic approach to innovation, using ecology as a main component.

The result is a highly unusual but stunningly effective business case for a sustainable, ecological industry to revive a desert town in Australia. 

This project is a testament to the strength of holistic, systemic approaches. For this reason, we documented the project extensively on this page, indluing the conception process, business case and design of the plant. For more detail, feel free to contact us.


... read more >

Hortus Celestia

Vertical farm & office tower

The Hortus Celestia is a vertical farm tower, designed for Naaldwijk, the Netherlands. The tower rises 28 stories high above the greenhouse-filled landscape, offering 14 farming floors with embedded expo centers.

The tower functions as a demonstration center for innovative Dutch greenhouse industry partners, and attracts international visitors from around the globe.

... read more >

Zevenkamp through our eyes

The transformation of Zevenkamp into the happiest neighborhood in Rotterdam

“Zevenkamp through our eyes: a story of three students and one neighborhood” is an urban transformation project by Except Academy, a learning platform for interns at Except. We developed an inspiration book which tells the story of our journey and experiences while investigating Zevenkamp, the second largest post-war neighborhood in the Netherlands.

The purpose of the book is to inspire and share our vision of Zevenkamp’s future. It has practical examples of opportunities for the neighborhood to become flourishing and resilient with the help of its residents and stakeholders.

... read more >

Trade mission Detroit

Launch of Detroit Urban Regen

In cooperation with the Dutch Foreign Office we  organized the trade mission to Detroit of May 2015 for over 25 organizations. The program established new permanent business partnerships of Dutch agri- and horticulture, and innovation companies with their American business, governmental and community development counterparts. Detroit, a  former powerhouse of the automotive industry, has suffered  from deindustrialization, a decline in population, an increase in crime, and general  decay. Yet, Detroit is a city full of resources and opportunities.

The event launched Detroit Urban Regen which aims to  revitalize  the city using smart agricultural solutions and creating a new biobased industry.  22 written pledges of commitment where secured, adding to the existing 15 international partners for Detroit Urban Regen.

... read more >

ReGen Villages Oosterwold

Masterplan for a self sustaining neighborhood

For ReGen Villages, we developed a globally unique masterplan for a self-sustaining housing neighborhood of 203 houses in the Netherlands. Designed on a 25 hectare site in an area called Oosterwold, just 20 minutes from Amsterdam, it exemplifies affordable, regenerative, and self sustaining living. 

... read more >

Roadmap to the BGI Manual

Bridging the knowledge gap in the field of Blue Green Infrastructures

Blue Green Infrastructures (BGI) increase the resilience of urban and rural landscapes, integrating their core functions with natural features and processes. Hurdles exist in the process of translating BGI-related knowledge and data from science to practice, and a tool that facilitates this transfer is still missing. We conducted a research in collaboration with a team of partner organizations (JNCC, IFLA Europe, BiodivERsA, and NRW), to pinpoint key preliminary knowledge to design such a tool, and collected our key findings in a report downloadable on this page.

... read more >


Except Integrated Sustainability

Tom Bosschaert

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