The Amsterdam Sluisbuurt on the move!
Using tiles to convert movement into energy
How do you ensure that Sluisbuurt Amsterdam, the future neighbourhood where Inholland will have a new building for its courses from Amsterdam and Diemen, already becomes attractive to residents? How do you activate the routes between the ferry and the tram? Within the Creative Growth Initiative (CGI) minor and supported by SLUISlab Inholland, students from various courses created placemaking activities. “The Tors” came up with the original concept “Seenergy”: tiles converting human movement into energy.
The Tors, students Matilde Brambilla, Keisha Griffith, Cassandra van Waveren and Daniël Broomans, are third year students from four different study programmes. They were attracted to the new, adventurous programme of the CGI minor. They got to know each other just a week before they started this project together. They were only able to work together physically for the first few weeks, after which they had to switch to MS Teams due to the corona measures. It was certainly not easy. Cassandra looks back: ‘For me personally it was not much fun to work together via Teams. Communication was really hard, and we got to know each other through screen. That’s not my favourite way.’
After a semester of hard work, they presented an innovative prototype to representatives of the municipality of Amsterdam, learning director Esther Bouw and SLUISlab lead Karel Koch. Matilde explains: ‘Our concept “Seenergy” stands for “see the energy”. Its objective is to raise awareness about movement – which is synonymous of energy – and how we as people are natural carriers of it. We started from a basic question: what is the most inclusive and used element in a city? The answer: the streets. We wanted to transform those.’
Keisha clarifies: ‘It’s all about activating the routes between the ferry and the tram: how you connect different parts of the Sluisbuurt with each other by moving from one spot to another. We want to help people with their journey through the Sluisbuurt.’
‘So we came up with the idea to position interactive and playful elements that would generate power on the pathways of the Sluisbuurt’, Matilde continues. ‘People will be the ones activating the switch by stepping, jumping or playing on those power generating tiles. Energy will be produced by nothing more than human walking power and it will be collected and re-used based on the needs of the community. The whole community will be involved.’
Keisha explains how it works: ‘The tiles are placed on a generator. When you step on a tile, it makes contact with the generator and then it produces energy. It also collects data: how many steps are there, how much energy is being produced and what can you do with the energy?’
Community and personal rewards
The sum of the collective movements will be displayed on digital information boards around the neighbourhood: in this way the community will be updated of their collective effort. The boards will also explain what the energy is used for. In addition The Tors add a personal reward: data will be sent to a mobile app in which it will be possible to see the individual contribution. ‘This will trigger them and motivate them to move even more.’
Right now it’s not easy to estimate how much the Seenergy concept could contribute to the power supply of the Sluisbuurt. Daniël: ‘Our target is only to empower the concept itself, to make the generator and digital information boards self-sufficient. But there is also an option for the municipality to use the energy for the buildings in the neighborhood.’
Positive impact on the environment
‘Producing enough energy to support the whole neighbourhood is not realistic’, Matilde says firmly. ‘We would have to use every tile in the Sluisbuurt and we would need as many tourists as in the centre of Amsterdam. No, our main focus is to create awareness about movement, health and energy.’ Keisha adds: ‘Right now we’re in a lockdown, which is leading us all to go out for a walk more often. This made us think: let’s add some fun to a walk through the neighbourhood, by showing people their own positive impact on the environment.’
The team made an attractive brochure with a map that shows each group of tiles, with a different look and purpose. Cassandra is especially happy with their idea of the street art tiles in the main street: ‘Right there we want to put down 500 tiles with street art. They will be so big and colourful!’ Daniël agrees, ‘not only because it will be crowded and many footsteps will be made there, but also because of the cocreation: inhabitants of the island designing the tiles.’ The Tors want to cooperate with artists, but also with local schools, so kids can help designing the 500 tiles in the main street. Every year they can be modified by different artists or schools – or a school in collaboration with an artist. Truly a Creative Growth Initiative by neighbours for neighbours!
‘Why not do something like this?’
Amongst the representatives of the municipality of Amsterdam were Mirjana Milanovic, senior lead designer Sluisbuurt, and Jan Straub, senior project manager Zeeburgereiland. After watching the presentations of all CGI-teams, they responded: ‘Why not do something like this?’ They were very impressed by this innovative concept and praised the synergy of different aspects: health and well-being on the one side, and sustainability and building a community on the other side.
‘I think we have developed a concept that we can really be proud of!’, Cassandra concludes.
- Co-greenation (greening the neigbourhood with botanical plants by team Creative Constructors)
- Food Fushion (bringing people together through various food related activities by team View)
- Sluisenaar (Art & Teahouse, with VR exhibition of the Sluisbuurt of the Future by team Sluisivity)
- Share-Inn (Sharing tools & Makerspace by team Urban Sluices)