Open Call Building out of the Soil

For research proposals by spatial designers who, in collaboration with stakeholders and experts, want to tackle urbanization challenges in which the subsurface is key.


closing date passed

€ 30.000

maximum amount to apply for phase 1

€ 390.000

budget phase 1

Important information

what is this open call’s objective?

Urbanization without taking serious account of the subsurface, or even burdening it, is no longer an option - change is necessary. A vital subsurface is indispensable for a future-proof approach to urbanization. With this open call, we are enabling designers to work on proposals to restore the relationship between the subsurface and what is aboveground in collaboration with government bodies, organizations, experts and civilians.

This open call contributes to the implementation of the Spatial Design Action Program 2021–2024.

who is this open call for?

Proposals can be submitted by spatial designers entering into a collaboration with a wide range of stakeholders and experts. For example: provinces, water boards, municipalities, network managers, energy, water and telecom providers, landowners, area developers, social initiatives, market participants, heritage experts, water and soil experts and residents.

which projects are eligible for a grant?

The open call focuses on projects which, based on research by design, develop innovative perspectives, strategies and arrangements and/or solutions for the urbanization challenge which take genuine account of the condition of the subsurface and make productive use of it.

Project proposals link up with one or more of the design challenges:
- Which alternative urbanization models are needed for a productive relationship between the subsurface and what is aboveground? We need to make choices in the area of urbanization patterns, the relationship between city and countryside, locations with specific limitations due to the soil, and the spatial structure and identity of the Netherlands and its various regions.
- What should the criteria and preconditions of possible problem-solving approaches meet? Where and in what way should the transformation, densification and/or expansion of the urban area really take place?
- Which clear-cut spatial solutions can be developed that contribute to improving biodiversity, the ecosystem services provided by the subsurface, and the relationship between the subsurface and what is aboveground, as well contribute to the big challenges such as the energy transition, climate adaptation, social inclusion and the quality of life?

The design assignments and the definition of 'research by design' are explained in the Open Call for Building from the Soil.

what are the phases of this open call?

The Open Call Building out of the Soil up is divided into different phases:

start-up phase
The start-up grant is optional. This start-up phase gives applicants the opportunity to enter into collaborations and prepare an application. Please note: the awarding of a start-up grant does not guarantee the awarding of a grant for the first phase. There are sixteen start-up grants of a maximum of € 5,000 available. This was open from 23 May up to and including 8 July 2022.

first phase after selection
After the selection in October 2022, the first phase (November 2022 up to and including June 2023) focuses on research by design, strengthening new cooperative ventures with sectors outside the creative industry and developing new working methods, insights and design proposals. In the first phase, thirteen proposals of up to € 30,000 can be supported.

follow-up phase
At the end of the first phase, the participants selected can apply for a maximum of € 40,000 for a follow-up phase. The objective of this is to engage the power of design to continue developing the results obtained from the research in the first phase.

impact phase
At the end of the follow-up phase, there is scope for six projects to enhance the impact of that project, with a maximum amount of € 7,500 per project available.

how do you prepare an application?

In order to prepare the application, it is important to acquire the right information based on the following documents:

Grant Application Guidelines
The Grant Application Guidelines provide guidance and tips on preparing a grant application. You can use them to draw up your application as completely as possible.

Open Call: Building out of the Soil
Applications are assessed on the basis of the Open Call Building out of the Soil, which describes the reason and objective, design challenges, phases, criteria and procedures.

Open Call Grant Scheme
Applications are also assessed on the basis of the Open Call Grant Scheme, which describes the general conditions, grounds for rejection, manner of publication, submission procedure, assessment, the award and any grant obligations.

what is assessed?

Applications are assessed on the basis of the Open Call Building out of the Soil and the Open Call Grant Scheme.

assessment criteria
- the relevance of the issue
- the quality of the plan of action
- extent of innovation
- the relevance and expertise of the parties involved
- the manner of knowledge sharing in terms of results and interim results

what happens to your application?

When you have submitted your application, the Fund Desk will check if your application complies with the formal requirements of the Open Call Grant Scheme.

An independent advisory committee will assess your application on the basis of the Open Call Grant Scheme and Open Call Building out of the Soil. The committee advises the Fund’s Board.

The Board takes account of the committee’s advice in its decision on the rejection or provision of the grant. You will be notified about the result in a decision.

If you receive a grant from the Fund, then you will have to comply with the obligations. Two weeks before the conclusion of your project, you will be asked by email to submit your accountability form in the application environment.


How to achieve a convincing application?

Steps to take

Do you want to apply for a subsidy under this open call?

Start your application
do you have any questions?

If some of the information is not clear, email your question to Chris van Langen, program leader Spatial Design Action Program, or Chantal Verhoeven or Martijn Kerkmeijer. You can also call on 010 436 16 00. If you have a more general question, have a look at our frequently asked questions first.