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Sustainable Rotterdam

The city is re-inventing itself

International Sustainability Competition

Monday, October 30, 2006

As seen at The Economist by Marga (thanks!)

Science City is a ETH university campus near the center of Zurich which serves as a model for sustainability. Science City, is much more than a conventional university campus; it represents a culture of thinking and dialogue.

The International Sustainability Competition is a global competition for interdisciplinary teams to provide ideas for how Science City can realize its vision of a new model for the sustainable integration of science and society. Teams from academic institutions are particularly encouraged to participate.

Entrants will be asked to combine competencies from different fields, for example spatial planning, urban development, mobility, sociology, arts and culture, economics and management, and must demonstrate sound knowledge and experience in sustainability-related topics.

posted by Oriol P., 11:16 PM | link | 0 comments |

Issue-driven Entrepreneurship

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Check the pictures at Flickr

This post is about the Idea Lounge organized by Enviu that I attended yesterday. But first, I'd like to share with you some thoughts I've got about a Do-it-yourself Guide to the Organization of Social Networking Events.

DIY Guide to the Organization of Social Networking Events

1. Gather some peers.
Use your network to gather like-minded people and engage them in the conversation. Meet at the bar, occupy a classroom, or ask at your neighbor association for space.

2. Set up and an agenda. In advance, define what issues are to be addressed and order in which will be presented. If the space you occupy has limited usage time, you may need to define a timeline accompanying the agenda and attacht to it.

3. Define goals for output. What do you aim to achieve with it? The pure act of opening the mind and exchange ideas is rewarding enough to justify the event. Still, you may want to be able to describe tangible and clear goals that may contribute to your own interests. This aplies for orgnizers and attendants. As in #2, plan in advance.

4. Reward contribution. Social networking is all about open contributions by all participants. Contribution is encouraged when acknowledged by peers.

5. Enjoy it. Have fun with it and speak out your thoughts! That's the best reward you can get.

After a complete day at the DDW 06, Saturday could not be less intense and exciting. My good friend Stef van Dongen organized together with the Enviu team a social networking event entitled Idea Lounge. Some forty issue-driven professionals from a variety of backgrounds discussed ideas and presented proposals, while having a drink.

The participative session started with an introduction to issue-driven entrepreneurship by Stef, followed by a presentation of the Escama case by myself. Attendants expressed their views on specific issues of their interest, of which three were selected as working material. In groups, isses were discussed individually and later on proposals aiming to increase sustainability and business value were presented on an elevator speech format.
  • How to ensure long term business sustainability for a product and a business model like Escama?
  • How to maximize efficiency in the current system of second hand cars sold to emerging economies?
  • How to maximize efficiency in office space use
Entrepreneurial minds can provide powerful insight, and this exactly what happened at De Loft. Snacks and drinks provided the perfect ground to interact with many interesting people; at the end of the day it's all about getting engaged in the conversation regarding sustainable solutions.

I'd like to thank everyone who participated at the Idea Lounge and made possible a creative Saturday afternoon. Stef, as soon as I finish Small is the new Big, I'll grab Cradle to Cradle, thanks for the book!

Last Minute Update. Stef reports that "All together we generated more than 200 ideas that were rapped up in three short presentations of each group. Another great day! If you would like to join us next time just check the Enviu website"

posted by Oriol P., 9:18 PM | link | 0 comments |

Dutch Design Week 2006

Check the pictures at Flickr

It was exactly a year ago when the Onsustain crew landed at the Dutch Design Week 2005 with an exhibition-shop about sustainable product design. So, the link with that event is sort of special and brings memories of creativity and enthusiasm. Last Friday, after a day of meetings and work we decided to relax and enjoy the current edition held at the city of light; Eindhoven.

The DDW is the best demonstration of current trends in industrial, textile and human design developed in the Netherlands. Recognizable design figures mix their work with novel designer who are ready to finish their master's at the Design Academy. This year we could appreciate an increase of projects presented, however we rapidly spotted what was going to be our favorite project; a set of urban furniture that doubles functionality as playground elements. Unfortunately I cannot recall the name of the designer, and I cannot find it at the catalogue. We also liked the work of Daniel Schipper and his urban greenhouse project.

Just across the street, Flick_Off repeated location at the Admiral presenting the work of a variety of designers and as usual, a selection of products from Buro Vormkrijgers, including the delightful Pong Clock. We were happy to encounter with designer Emily Hermans who we met last year at TAC. Her new collection of viscose clothing is just great, introducing traditional Palestinian patterns to create outstanding pieces.
Tof Design presented a collection of artifacts (suitcases, stereos, fans) made out a composite of wood residues.

Next stop was the Temporary Art Centre (TAC) which this year transformed into Go Tac; a drive in cinema holding performances, restaurant, and rooms. Debbie Does held another interesting installation with video and interaction. But what best after some cultural and creative immersion that enjoy a meal in a unique setting?

La Boller fulfills the definition of unique setting for a restaurant; a former brothel which keeps all its original design and characteristic elements as pole, mirrored walls and ceiling, exotic bath tubs, sauna, and the flexible space fitting up to 18 people. If the setting is unique and spectacular, the service and food are top quality. A group of young enthusiasts transformed this squatted house (we're there last year the very first time a party was held) into a top memorable experience. At the kitchen, chef Malotaux masters the art of cooking even when he does it as hobbie.

The evening ended up at The Little League party held by Vice magazine we were delighted with the electro beat of Matik, an excellent and revolutionary discovery for me. These guys made us jump like crazy just as the great bands can do. You should definitely check out their music; pump your computer speakers up and jump, jump, jump!

Related Posts: -
posted by Oriol P., 8:49 PM | link | 2 comments |

Defining Urban Spam

For some days now I can see from my apartment that the Pathe cinema at Schouwburgplein has been covered with an immense printed advertisement of Nike picturing Spanish tennis player Rafa Nadal. Finally, today I decided to check it out and take a closer look - even when that's not really necessary since it can be spotted from the distance. The values in which we foresee a sustainable Rotterdam clash with this kind of practices, the ad is simply an outrageous piece of urban spam as annoying as receiving 120 unsolicited e-mails on a day, with the difference that this one will be there for several days.

There's nothing wrong about branding the public space as there's nothing wrong in using e-mail to extend the message of a brand. Actually, I believe that clever branding can be as meaningful in public space as urban art is. But tha's exactly what marketers, agencies, and local authorities should ask themselves when deciding to cover an entire building with a printed ad: how meaningful and appropriate is this for the context - the city - and citizen-market?

Yelling doesn't make your message and experience better or outstanding. For a printed ad in public space to be relevant it is about meaningful content using the appropriate format for your target group or niche.

1. Content
Functionality of printed ads is purely informational and unidirectional; there's none - or limited - room for interaction limiting engagement with citizen-market. Basically what I have observed are three versions of content:
  • Priced sales and special deals
  • Presentation of a new product, collection or service
  • Announcement of events; concerts, parties, local festivals
How relevant are these informational messages within the context of a city and how the citizen perceives them? Personally, I may find practical to encounter announcement of events because those are relevant pieces of information for me when taking the pulse of the city and writing this blog. Yet, other channels are available to get the same information, extended, and right up to date delivered to you which results more efficient and meaningful - i.e. e-mail newsletters, Google Calendar. The same applies to priced sales and presentations of new products/services; it rarely happens that those are shown when looking for them and being prepared to experience the unidirectional message.
  • Who thinks that by purely sticking a picture and a text line on my nose, that I didn't choose or aimed to get, I am going to get a positive attitude about the brand?
2. Format
Printed advertisement in public spaces takes a variety of formats, mainly differentiated by size, materials and supporting elements. Ranging from few square cm in flyers to several hundred square meters in building coverings, the general perception of printed advertisement in public space - at least here in Rotterdam - is lack of consistency in formats.
I would like to catalogue and capture visually the variety of formats that can be encountered around Rotterdam and create a Flick set. Send us your pictures and I will add them to the set, alternatively you can use the tag 'sustainablerotterdam'.

Regarding format, the questions that should be asked are:
  • How does the format of the advertisement add value to the experience of perceiving the content and the public space?
  • Does large mean better or more appropriate?
  • How do these formats and supporting elements cope with the original design of the urban space?
3. Target group
When an informative message is literally placed at the middle of the street, we may say that it lacks focus and takes an arbitrary strategy; by definition a limited rate of citizen-market may feel that the message is meaningful and appropriate for their own interests and needs. Additionally, it can be observed the doubling of roles in the target group;
  • How can the individuals that experience the urban context be defined; citizens, 24/7 foreseeable consumers, both?
  • On what basis is the trade off citizen-market managed?
  • How do local authorities balance the always welcome cash-flow of revenues of commercially exploiting the public space and its appropriateness?
The combination of the above described elements may lead to either appropriate or inappropriate use of the public space, the latest it's what I call urban spam; the ultimate plague of the dense urban space. Would you like to contribute to the discussion and answer any of the above questions? Leave us a text comment or voice message at Odeo.

posted by Oriol P., 5:32 PM | link | 0 comments |

It's Great to be an Enthusiast

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

As follower of Seth Godin work, I'm currently reading the compilation of columns and blog posts at his latest book Small is the New Big. So today, during lunch time, I was reading the post titled Enthusiast (the original blog post is entitled "Are you an enthusiast?") and I have to say that I saw myself reflected there. I felt that at last someone understood me!

The following paragraph reflects the essence of Seth's message:

Enthusiasts are ENTHUSIASTIC! This means we want to spread the word. It means we want other people to "get it" as well. We want the organizations we buy from to be one of us, to care as much as we do about the experience and the products and the process. We want our friends and fans not just to buy us a stick-shift warmer for the Ferrari, but to research it first, to compare the different warmers, to understand the trade-offs and make the same (obvious) choice that we would.

I don't know if I can be entitled as enthusiast, but one thing is for sure; I'm eager to let others know and get excited as I get with any new discovery. That's why sustainablerotterdam.com exists; to let everyone know about it.

So, are you also an enthusiast? If so, what does it take for you to be enthusiast?

Related Posts: --
posted by Oriol P., 2:09 PM | link | 1 comments |

Sustainable Dance Club - Video Premiere

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Thanks to Jessy van Os for the video!

posted by Oriol P., 4:48 PM | link | 1 comments |

Sustainable Dance Club: What a Night!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

If you follow regularly this blog (is anyone out there?) you may know that last night Rotterdam held The Critical Mass. We have been continuously reporting about this open source concept in previous post, and Saturday it all materialized in a unique experience mixing live performances, fashion, food & drinks, and sustainable glam. The base of the program focused to show the audience what the "eco chain of clubbing" can entail.

The evening started with a presentation of the sustainable dance club concept by Alijd van Doorn (Doll lab) and Stef van Dongen (Enviu) accompanied by comments videoprojected of actors in Rotterdam's innovation and clubbing scenes.

The expectation created paid off with an overwhelming assistance of public; 1200 people crossed the door of Off_Corso to dance and enjoy a sustainable evening. From the great line-up we personally enjoyed the acoustic sounds of Dutch songwriter Charlie Dee, and Belgium electro duo The Subs (make me jump again!). Urbi et Orbi created amazing visuals that where projected all over the place.

Since January 2006, Doll & Enviu managed to gather a large group of enthusiastic professionals from a variety of backgrounds. Those came with a series of proposals to design a sustainable dance club from an architectural and experience perspective, and as Alijd & Stef claimed "the question now is not where is it going to be, but who is going to be first?". By Saturday, the first were people like Kuyichi and its re-made fashion corner, Oke and The Garden of Delight, or the LED Philips wall and its energy efficient animations, and the delicious recycled food restaurant that contributed -amongst others- to make it a success.

The sustainable beat was up till sunrise, many things happened and many details to cover them on a Sunday evening post. Let me tell you a secret; we could sneak in a video camera and soon you will be able to check it all by yourself. Keep tuned and be the first to know (sorry CNN!)

For a full list of acts, performances and sponsors, check the official announcement, or read what The Washington Post is saying about all this at the article Going Going Green

posted by Oriol P., 9:55 PM | link | 8 comments |

Preparing the launching of Sustainable Dance Club

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Update at Springwise

posted by Oriol P., 3:09 PM | link | 1 comments |