Category Archives: sustainable cities

Why creative minds are change makers

For ages, we thought our world was flat. A worldview which was discovered by scientists and the only thing you did or could do was assume that our world was flat. But then, suddenly the world was round. Can you imagine our world as flat again? Not really, because we accepted a new worldview. It is ridiculously hard to imagine that things were once otherwise. A shift from thinking like that is called paradigm change by Kuhn Cycle.

Many artists these days are considering this paradigm way of thinking about their work. Especially in our society which facing loads of problems as climate change, waste, the impact of technology. We live in a world where all sort of people tells us – inhabitants on earth- we need to change our system before it is too late. It seems like an impossible big project but these artists below have the courage to start somewhere and try to make a change.

We need imagination

To achieve change, you need to envision that things can change at all. We need imagination, ideas, and views. This is exactly what creatives -like artists, designers, developers- use within their work. It is therefore not surprising that we look more and more to creative minds as it comes to solve worldwide problems. An analytic mindset alone is not enough.

“Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and at last, you create what you will” – George Bernard Shaw

Get inspired by work of creatives who are fascinated by the faults in our social system, production system and the ecosystem. People who implement the design to tackle the big problems of our time;

Recycling machine

Precious plastic is a project founded by Netherland- based industrial designer Dave Hakkens in 2013. He is on a lifelong mission to ‘try to make the world better by making thing’. Well, I can say, his mission is going pretty well so far. With his ‘build your own recycling machine’ Dave turns everyone into a recycler. The machine allows anyone to transform plastic into useful objects. All machines can be easily built by using basic affordable universal materials. Blueprints and video tutorials for precious plastic machines will always be freely available on their site. At the moment Precious Plastic established itself as a global community of hundreds of people working towards a solution to plastic pollution. And yes, you can join as well!

A bubble of clean air

If it comes to studio Roosegaarde should waste not exist in the future. With their project ‘the smog-free tower’ Beijing, world’s most polluted city, has now a bubble of clean air in the right in the middle of its center. By building a massive tower that sucks up pollution from the sky and cleans it on the nano level, Beijing’s parks are 55-75% cleaner than rest of the city. But, what about all the polluted air which is waste now? No worries, inspired by the beauty of cleanness, Roosegaarde compressed the carbon of smog for 30 minutes and made smog-free rings about that. By buying one you donate a 1000 m3 of clean air. So eventually, there is no waste at all. The smog-free tower is popping up in more countries all over the world. Besides that, team Roosegaarde is diving deeper into the problem of pollution and is currently working on smog-free bicycles.

One by one

With their Teeny Tiny Collection, duo Anouk x Vera is willing to change the fashion industry into a more sustainable production. They launched an iconic sportswear collection which will be produced especially for you. This means they don’t work with stock items to prevent the production of items that will not be sold and ‘never see anything else than the inside of a trash bin’ write Anouk x Vera. You can see their collection as a backlash against the fast fashion industry that has large consequences for our environment and caused bad working conditions as well. A great example of a pair of creative minds that found a way in which they could do something for the world using their creativity.

They know how you feel

Besides helping to solve problems, designers are heroes as well in case of raising more consciousness about current topics. Take a look at work from designer Nick Verstand. His intriguing installation Aura will let you think about the relationship between technology and us, human. What if a computer, robot or technical installation could read your mind? And is this what we really want?

 Aura installation transforms analyzed data from visitors mental states into immersive ‘curtains’ of light that vary in form, colour and intensity according to the individual’s neurological activity. All emotions of people who joined aura installation will be visible to all who present. A visual installation like this will make people more conscious about urgent topics, in this case, a possible future of technology. How would you react?


All these -little or big- inventions are making difference.  It creates consciousness about problems we all facing. A creative approach makes it easier for us to see and do exactly something with proposed scenarios rather than listening to, most of the time, a story. In the end, we need imagination and creative people who love to make the world a little bit better step by step.


It only needs a paint job

What is it?

Who says an abandoned building is not interesting? German artist Katharina Grosse gave an abandoned beach house in New York life again by using bright colors. In the near future the place will be decommissioned but before that, everybody can enjoy the colorful work of the artist. Grosse did this at a request of MoMA PS1 for the series Rockaway! this year. In 2008, she did a similar challenge for Prospect. 1 in New Orleans where she painted a house orange that was hit by a hurricane.

Why is it cool?

The beach house was damaged by hurricane Sandy. Hurricanes like Sandy appeared a lot in America. It is sad to see what it can do, buildings are destroyed, trees are everywhere. It is nice to see that artist can enliven a city. Houses are being painted with bright colors. They can hide the ugly truth of damages with their work. People come to see it because it conveyed happiness. You can call it temporarily art.

Another advantage could be that creative actors use abandoned places as their workplace or as background for artwork. Empty spaces can be filled in this way, sounds like a sustainable idea, right? CBS shows that 14 percent of the social real estate is empty in the Netherlands. This means there is enough space to create beautiful things as an artist.



Greenhost Hotel

What is it?

This summer I went on a trip to Indonesia, a beautiful but poor country I thought. Well, I can tell you, they know exactly how to use nature. They make themselves rich with their knowledge, acres of rice fields and the environment. Nevertheless, you can find some beautiful architecture between the houses.

I spend a couple of nights at Greenhost boutique hotel in Yogyakarta. My first impression was: ‘’ wow this looks very nice’’. They worked with a lot of wood, bamboo, concrete, metal and plants. But if you took a look closer, the plants were just not normal plants but herbs for preparing meals at the restaurant. On every floor, herbs are growing just in front of the hotel rooms. By using self-regulating water system, the herbs can grow uninterrupted. Last but not least, the rooftop is converted into a huge vegetable garden. Visitors from the hotel are allowed to enter the garden which makes the kitchen transparently.

Not only in the area of food. On both sides of the entrance hangs a screen where you can see how the place is built.

Why is it cool?

Tourism is booming in Indonesia. This has many advantages and disadvantages, but the locals are trying their best to keep it up by building hotels, restaurants, and resorts. But Greenhost wants besides a nice hotel, a place that can be self-sufficient eventually. They plant herbs, vegetables, and fruit so they can use it for personal consumption, like preparing meals for the visitors. Like this, food doesn’t have to come outside the city. This includes, there is less transport and it will be a more self-sufficient and a greener city. A green city, both literally and figuratively.

I think using a rooftop to grow your own food is a great alternative to feeding your visitors. Especially when they know and see you actually do that. A country like Indonesia has enormous plantations to feed their inhabitants. Why not build one to feed hotel visitors? They all live here from there own grown food. Why is that so difficult for instance for countries in Europe? I hope tourists will that in mind when they fly back to their home.




– own knowledge

bye traffic jams


What is it?

Big cities mean traffic jams. Especially in China, the country with the biggest car market in the world. Nothing you can do about it, you think. Well, maybe Song Youzhou , chairman of Shenzhen Hashi Future Parking Equipment, comes with a solution. A bus that beats traffic jams. No more buses on the road but one alternative where other vehicles lower than 2 m can go through under.

The ‘straddling bus’ or Transit Explore Bus (TEB) is able to carry approximately 300 passengers at a time. For this amount of people, one long path is enough which means, fewer roads. The designers hope to reduce traffic jams by 20-30 %.

The idea was exhibited for the first time on the 13th Beijing International High-tech Expo in 2010. He told us that in the future the model will be put into pilot use in Beijing. There we are, 6 years later, ready for the first trial.

Why is it cool?

Busy traffic could be a big problem. What I said; China has the biggest car market in the world. If you take a look at all the exhaust gasses from those cars. The country is number one in pollution.

In 2020, the emissions of the most important pollutants have to be reduced by 60 percent. The government had already taken steps forward by trying to stimulate water- and solar energy.

Building a ‘TEB ’ could help to realize this plan. Besides the bus will save lots of road space, it is powered by electricity and solar energy. So there is also fewer emissions in the cities. I think it is beautiful to see how someone like Youzhou use ‘green energy’ to help to solve the traffic problem.

Passengers will have also some advantages. This new transport can guarantee people to arrive on time and even faster than before because there is no risk to get stuck in the traffic. People can move easily trough the cities.



green travellers

What is it?

The Netherlands could be a beautiful place to leave the city for a while. Go hiking, cycling or enjoy the water routes. Who says you can’t go camping with a little bit of luxury. HIHAHUT created unique two-person cabins, specially designed for the landscape in which it is placed. A ‘hihahut’ can navigate as a starting point of your journey trough the nature of Holland. These cabins are located strategically. If you want, you can spend each night of your trip in different cabins. These are equipped with a kitchen, table and stools, a hot shower, compost toilet, solar energy for charging and of course comfortable beds to recover from your adventures. With this all, HIHAHUT wants to be self-sufficient, they enjoy nature and don’t want to ruin it. Alongside the compost toilet and solar energy, the cabins also have water treatment on location. Go off the grid!

At the moment, the creators are busy with the design of the third cabin. Do you want to support Anna, Marga, and Toine? Check

Why is it cool?

Cities become more and more popular. In 2050, 70 percent of the population lives in the cities. This means that there will be huge of space around the cities and it’s a real shame if we didn’t  make use of it. For example a vacation in Holland. This country has some beautiful, much less well known, nature. HIHAHUT could show people that cities are not the only places to have a good time. Sometimes you have to escape from pressure at big locations.

These cabins, right in the middle of nature, are completely self-sufficient. Something which is possible in little amounts at the moment. Nevertheless, off grid is upcoming. Also due to the huge dependence of oil and gas. We had to create a new way of living without these sources. By using water treatment, cabins like HIHAHUT, you can regulate your own house.




Let’s go cycling

What is it?

Soon, Berlin will be turned into a ‘bicycle city’. Cycling is cool, especially in crowd cities. Berlin is currently working on a huge indoor cycle track of nine kilometers. The location will be below the 120 years old metro line, where also found drive-in coffee bars, a ‘biergarten’ for your favorite beer and service stations to help bikers with flat bicycle tires. Apart from that, the so-called ‘green wave’ gives bikers priority in traffic lights. The speed of the bikers secures when the lights go green, which means that they rarely have to stop. Furthermore is the road an energy source because of a pressure-sensitive ground. The vibration activates by cycling can be turned into energy.

The other advantages: even when it is raining, you can cycle without arriving completely wet.

This all is still just a project. Hopefully, we can enjoy the indoor cycle track in the future!

Why is it cool?

Cities are growing so fast. Men say: in 2050, 70 percent of the population lives in the cities. What to do with so many people? And how to transport them? Berlin could have a great solution with their indoor cycle tracks. Bicycles take little space, especially in comparison to cars. Also when you take a look at the environmental impact of these two. There is still CO2 emissions. 

But there is a major step forward. CBS research shows that a number of cars in the Netherlands hardly augments. Cycling could help to not increase that amount.

Indoor cycle tracks could support people to stay away from their car. Even when it is raining, this road is dry and full of places where you can socialize or buy a drink to go. Cycling creates in this way a social aspect.