A lot of what we did in Barcelona was about making connections, sharing knowledge, and being inspired. However, we wouldn’t be Amsterdam Smart City if we didn’t give it a bit of our own special flavour. That’s why we decided to take this inspiring opportunity to start a new challenge about floating neighbourhoods together with Anja Reimann (municipality of Amsterdam) and Joke Dufourmont (AMS Institute). The session was hosted at the Microsoft Pavilion.
We are facing many problems right now in the Netherlands. With climate change, flooding and drought are both becoming big problems. We have a big housing shortage and net congestion is becoming a more prominent problem every day. This drove the municipality of Amsterdam and AMS institute to think outside the box when it came to building a new neighbourhood and looking towards all the space we have on the water. Floating neighbourhoods might be the neighbourhoods of the future. In this session, we dived into the challenges and opportunities that this type of neighbourhood can bring.
The session was split up into two parts. The first part was with municipalities and governmental organisations to discuss what a floating neighbourhood would look like. The second part was with entrepreneurs who specialized in mobility to discuss what mobility on and around a floating neighbourhood should look like.
Part one - What should a floating neighbourhood look like?
In this part of the session, we discussed what a floating district should look like:
- What will we do there?
- What will we need there?
- How will we get there?
We discussed by having all the contestants place their answers to these questions on post-its and putting them under the questions. We voted on the post-its to decide what points we found most important.
A few of the answers were:
- One of the key reasons for a person to live in a floating neighbourhood would be to live closer to nature. Making sure that the neighbourhood is in balance with nature is therefore very important.
- We will need space for nature (insects included), modular buildings, and space for living (not just sleeping and working). There need to be recreational spaces, sports fields, theatres and more.
- To get there we would need good infrastructure. If we make a bridge to this neighbourhood should cars be allowed? Or would we prefer foot and bicycle traffic, and, of course, boats? In this group, a carless neighbourhood had the preference, with public boat transfer to travel larger distances.
Part two - How might we organise the mobility system of a floating district?
In the second part of this session, we had a market consultation with mobility experts. We discussed how to organise the mobility system of a floating neighbourhood:
- What are the necessary solutions for achieving this? What are opportunities that are not possible on land and what are the boundaries of what’s possible?
- Which competencies are necessary to achieve this and who has them (which companies)?
- How would we collaborate to achieve this? Is an innovation partnership suitable as a method to work together instead of a public tender? Would you be willing to work with other companies? What business model would work best to collaborate?
We again discussed these questions using the post-it method. After a few minutes of intense writing and putting up post-its we were ready to discuss. There a lot of points so here are only a few of the high lights:
- Local energy: wind, solar, and water energy. There are a lot of opportunities for local energy production on the water because it is often windy, you can generate energy from the water itself, and solar energy is available as well. Battery storage systems are crucial for this.
- Autonomous boats such as the roboat. These can be used for city logistics (parcels) for instance.
- Wireless charging for autonomous ferry’s.
- It should be a pleasant and social place to live in.
- Data needs to be optimized for good city logistics. Shared mobility is a must.
- GPS signal doesn’t work well on water. A solution must be found for this.
- There needs to be a system in place for safety. How would a fire department function on water for instance?
- Grid operators should be involved. What would the electricity net look like for a floating neighbourhood?
- How do you work together with the mainland? Would you need the mainland or can a floating neighbourhood be self-sufficient?
- We should continue working on this problem on a demo day from Amsterdam Smart City!
A lot more interesting points were raised, and if you are interested in this topic, please reach out to us and get involved. We will continue the conversation around floating neighbourhoods in 2024.