The Reef is an Ecosystem
The Reef is a community; a home; a workplace; a model. But it is also the seed for a new market. We plan to make sociable, deep-green living both realistic (for the people that live it) and aspirational (for many who do not – yet). In so doing, we position ourselves at the forefront of a wave of disruption in the real estate industry. The Brussels site will be viable as an enterprise in its own right; it will also serve as a demonstrator, helping with the creation of this new market.
The first people to move into The Reef are going to be the intimacy and modularity species of the ecosystem. The Brussels space will function as a sort of bioreactor; here new solutions, both technical and social, are designed, tried out, improved upon and tried out again.
We believe The Reef can quickly reach a critical mass of adopters if it offers the following.
- Intimacy and modularity: affordable units composed of private bedroom + private or shared bathroom + airy, beautiful communal space. (Indicative pricing: 25 m² + private bathroom + 200 m² of communal spaces for 500 EUR/month in rent.)
- Choice between rent and buy.
- Solarpunk architecture for beauty and low carbon living.
- Communal, respectful, non-cultish lifestyle.
As a stand-alone space, The Reef can count on multiple revenue streams. It rents/sells living space to individuals. It does the same with green/health-related businesses, with proximity to the community providing them extra value. If it reconverts an existing building, it generates capital gains, transforming an inert piece of real estate in a thriving, social, green community and increasing its value. And it produces green/social living innovations, which can then be ported to the market at large.
We see The Reef as being potentially profitable under a variety of business models: green field (acquire land, develop a building, then sell it / rent it out); brown field (acquire a derelict building, redevelop, then sell it / rent it out); and commons (acquire a long term concession for a publicly owned building, rent it out, and at the end of the concession, return it to the public).
For the Future: Our plans beyond Brussels
Having The Reef succeed in Brussels is not enough. The real estate and construction industries everywhere are known to be very conservative, and in many cities are struggling with an unsold, and often unsellable, stock of apartment and office blocks. Also, it tends to cater for the middle class in traditional family constellation, ignoring everyone else.
Therefore, we actively channel it into an offer that can be taken to other locales. We see at least three ways. The first is direct supply. We plan to seek additional investment to create our own real estate development company, which aims to serve people who wish to be ahead of the curve in embracing sociable, deep green living. The second is franchising, assisting selected partners in in the real estate industry in bootstrapping their own spaces. The third is open sourcing. We open source our design arrangements, community building, norms; all the “social software” that makes the Reef community run. People are welcome to reproduce what we do, and create their own variations.
We are looking for an underused space in Brussels and for passionate people to join us creating green urban living: people who wish to live in The Reef; building owners; sustainable real estate investors, developers and architects; citizen groups who want to improve their local community; anyone involved in urban policy making; and creative and technically skilled people interested in ecologically beneficial living.
Get in touch if you, like us, see the rising cost of housing, lack of care for the ecology, social fragmentation and ultimately alienation, and think we can make a dent collectively. The Reef community and our team are open, just contact us and we’ll take it from there :-)
New: meet The Reef ASBL
In December 2019, we have incorporated as a Belgian nonprofit association, called The Reef ASBL, in order to open up the governance of the project and make Edgeryders less central (read more). You can find the ASBL’s statute here. Activities will resume in late March 2020, after we secure some funding.