• Agents of Change

    • Architect Ramon Knoester is building one of the most perfect floating habitats, made purely from garbage floating down the Meuse River and into the sea.

    Recycled Island, transforming marine garbage into floating villas / 

    The Meuse River (Maas in German) crosses France, Belgium and the Netherlands until it drains into the North Sea. It carries an enormous amount of garbage from these countries and dumps it in the ocean. With this in mind, and since Rotterdam is the last city the river passes on its way to the sea, the architectural firm WHIM, headed by Dutch Ramon Knoester, has been exploring the potential of recycling this plastic waste to transform it into a giant floating utopia.

    In the year 2010 Knoester received an award to develop a prototype made of empty blocks of recycled plastic. His design was made of “puzzle pieces” to be used as floor, solar panels on the roofs of the villas and energy derived from the waves of the sea. At first, Knoester’s idea was to use the trash from the Pacific Garbage Patch, which would be the best way to diminish its size, but this was apparently too expensive and hard to accomplish.

    "We started really big, but the main problem for the North Pacific Gyre is that the plastics there are really hard to collect. So far this technology hasn’t been developed to our knowledge," the architect pointed out.

    Knoester has adapted his plans to his possibilities and, by collaborating with the University of Rotterdam, a navy engineer, a chemist and some government officials, his Recycled Island project is already being used in houses and in recreational areas, all built using garbage collected from the mouth of the Meuse River in Rotterdam.

    This summer Knoester published a model for Re:Villa, a family house inspired by luxury yachts but that, unlike these, will be self-sustainable, have a garden, compost baths and a system that will filter irrigation water. He has also designed a floating public park.

    "We think if we start with that, it’s a good beginning," Knoester says. "And of course, if we can prove a floating habitat, and the technology for gathering plastic improves in the North Pacific Gyre, then hopefully we can develop it there."

    Tagged: recycling, sustainability, Recycled Island, Agents of Change