AquaDom: A breathtaking ride


What does a sustainable city of the future look like? How are our current cities developing and how do we give an identity to new habitats? An answer to this could be that a city should have plenty to offer.

More often cool initiatives are showing up in cities, which might achieve this. This to make a city livable and/or escape crowded places.

People are looking for new spaces for their activities. Although flights are becoming cheaper, we do not have to travel far for more rest and/or see imposing things. We can find things closer to home. A good example is the ‘AquaDom’.

What is it?

The AquaDom is a giant cylindrical acrylic glass aquarium of 25 meters high (82-foot) with a diameter of over 12 meters, built on a 9 meters tall concrete foundation. It’s filled with nearly 1 million liters of seawater and contains about 1500 fish of 97 different species. The aquarium weighs over 2,000 tons. The AquaDom is the largest acrylic glass cylinder in the world with these impressive measurements.

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The enormous and beautiful aquarium has a built-in transparent elevator that takes you on a spectacular underwater experience. Here you’ll learn about the tropical fish inhabitants and the architecture of the AquaDom.

radisson-blu-hotel-aquarium-scuba-diving-berlin-1Besides, guests have the opportunity to watch the AquaDom being cleaned and the fish feed by a pair of full-time scuba divers. 8 kilogram of food is being served each day.

The AquaDom can be found at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Berlin, Germany. Furthermore, the hotel contains offices, a restaurant and the aquarium Sea Life Center.

If you’re interested, you can sleep with the fish for 180 Euro per night. The hotel has 427 suites with fantastic sights of the tropical underwater world. Of course, if you feel a little sea sick, there are also rooms looking out to the city of Berlin.

Why is it cool?

At first sight, the Radisson Blu Hotel in Berlin may look like just another luxury hotel, but appearances are deceptive. Once you enter the heart of the hotel, you will be blown away by the gigantic AquaDom. People will not expect an enormous aquarium like this when entering a hotel. I think this this is what makes this signal so extraordinary and attractive. Myself, I have never heard of the Aquadom before and it seems already impressive to me.

Besides, I think it is attractive for guests to experience the tropical underwater world by taking the transparent elevator. It makes a city more livable, because you can escape the crowd and will enjoy the feeling like you are just somewhere else.

But why is this a good signal? Individualization and digitalization have had a tremendous impact on our society. With the rush of today and the ever-competitive world, where we are constantly connected to the internet and getting a lot of information to us per day, signals like the Aquadom may fill up the emptiness and give us a little peace.

Also globalization has had an impact on the signals that can be found today that will determine our future. As said in the beginning, we do not have to travel far to experience something spectacular or something we can find in another country. The society is trying to make it possible for us to bring things closer to home.

Unfortunately, the guests can’t go for a dive in the Aquadom. Wouldn’t it be great if you can dive in an enormous aquarium like the AquaDom in the future?

With signals like this, a city surely offers enough to citizens and gets more identity. People don’t have to look far for their activities in the future. New places will emerge where you can find unique things.

Companies and organizations will do everything to offer citizens enough and make a city more livable, sustainable and peaceful.


The streets like a big playground: A cluster of different playful signals

Quebec-3In a world where cities grow of population, people meet the most in the urban place. Because of the population growth, places on the street generally are becoming more anonymous, impersonal and more functional.

Mankind is questioning about the everyday life, analyzing the circumstances and want to find a playful solution to improve the awareness of life. People want to reinvent the urban place by bringing back fun and personality. Together we invent the urban place more towards a play society.

Signals as ‘ActiWait (StreetPong)’, ‘Dreamy Playground’, ‘Waterfall Swing’ and ‘Rainworks’, connect well with this. These trends are closing well with the trends Collaboration, Experience Economy and Gamification. 

What is it?


Firstly, I want to talk about the ActiWait (StreetPong). This is a concept by Sandro Engel and Amelie Künzler of URBAN INVENTION.


                              (Sandro Engel & Amelie Künzler)

This is a pedestrian light (touch screen) that lets you play with a wireless connection against someone on the other side of the road. A video showing this idea traveled around the world surprising millions of people, because it offers pedestrians the possibility to convert boring waiting times into positive experiences. Perhaps it also creates more safety.

The ActiWait creates urban interaction and design and art are interwoven in public spaces. After two years of development, the prototype was installed and tested at a traffic light for the very first time. It was a great success for URBAN INVENTION and now they’re working on a product that is internationally marketable. Besides they hope to change the image of cities all over the world.

Quebec-2The second signal is the Dreamy Playground designed by studio Les Astronautes. The designers turned a dark, narrow alley into a dreamy playground in Quebec City. The only thing the designers used are pink and orange colored swimming pool noodles on both walls of the alleyway. The place gets a whole new identity and experience.

According to the designers, the combination of anonymity and narrowness of this specific place inspired them to come up with this idea.


The intervention was part of Quebec’s public art festival Les Passages Insolites, which aims to reshape our thinking of neighborhoods by questioning our relation with public space.

In challenging visuals that also create an interaction with users, the known surrounding becomes new and adventurous.

Eröffnung Höhenrausch 2014 - Bewegte Räume

Thirdly, the Waterfall Swing is an amazing signal. It’s an interactive art piece and a collaborative project between Mike O’Toole, Andrew Ratcliff, Ian Charnas and Andrew Witte. The Waterfall Swing is built by Dash 7 Design. The swing creates a water plane falling in the path of its riders. The swing is the first in a series that play with interaction in rides and installations.

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Riders pass through the openings of the swing’s waterfall. The swing is created by precise monitoring the path of the riders via axel-housed encoders, creating the thrill of narrow escaping obstacles.

For now, the Waterfall Swing has traveled the world with installations across the United States and in The Netherlands.

Finally, I would like to talk about the Rainworks that are made in Seattle by Peregrine Church (right), who is often helped by co-conspirators Xack Fischer (middle) and Forest Tresidder (left).


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Church makes rain-activated positive messages, games and art on the streets, by spraying a water-repellant coating onto sidewalks through a stencil. The art only appears when it gets wet (the regular concrete turns darker while the concrete he sprayed the coating on stays dry), and it’s hidden when dry. This kind of street art is meant to brighten your day, even when it’s gray and rainy.

Why is it cool?

Some of the signals are a good example of the redesign of places. Companies and organizations are increasingly creating special activities at special places, where you do not initially expect to encounter this. Indeed, it’s a clever use of the land/space and it creates spontaneous interactions. This is why it inspires me, but I think probably also other citizens, organizations and companies. Besides I especially like the idea of Rainworks, because this would work well in the Netherlands with all the rain we have over here.

You can see the needs for Collaboration, Gamification and the Experience Economy, because of the growing anonymity, impersonality and modern technology. Individualization and the advent of the Internet have accelerated this. In the future these needs will only increase, because lots of people are looking for new places for their activities, fun and personality in the urban place.

By creating concepts and ideas like this, a city has a lot to offer to citizens. Citizens will get happier and the city is becoming more livable and durable.

People have fun and laugh more, but they also move more with some of these signals. This is good for the emotional-, physical- and social wellbeing.

Be smart and use or create something fun on the streets and you will feel happy!







PopUp Forest at Times Square: A solution for a livable and durable city of the future?


Cities are growing rapidly. An estimated 75 percent of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050. ‘How do I keep the city livable and durable for others and myself? ‘as well as: ‘ How can we create happier citizens?’ are questions we get more to do with, especially in the future.

How can we improve our quality of life and the environment when cities are so crowded? A solution for this problem could be the ‘PopUp Forest: Time Square’. 

What is it?

1/8 of New York City is forests, marshes and meadows. NYC has more nature than any other city in North America. Unfortunately, many New Yorkers have no idea that these kinds of places/nature exist.

To give people the experience of the nature that lives close by (to get to know their floral and faunal neighbors) and to redefine cities with nature in mind, the PopUP Forest: Times Square helps to achieve this.

The PopUp Forest: Times Square is a temporarily large-scale installation of real nature in the heart of New York City. This is a lively green space, which will support wildlife and delight urbanites. In about a couple of weeks it will disappear.

Urban ecologist Marielle Anzelone started the PopUp Forest campaign on Kickstarter. Anzelone’s purpose and wishes are to build a resilient and livable city together with citizens. With the PopUp Forest, Anzelone shows us how important it is to protect the remaining natural areas in the city.

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Anzelone’s plan is to ship containers loaded with soil, trees and flowers along, with sounds of birds and wildlife to one of the world’s most crowded places. Anzelone wants to create an immersive natural experience in what the campaign page calls ‘the most unnatural place on the planet’.

After three weeks, the PopUp Forest would be removed and the greenery used in small parks and schoolyards around the city.

The Kickstarter campaign was launched on March 16th and the hope is that funds will help to enable to start a design for the Times Square installation in 2016 and create a prototype in Gowanus, Brooklyn for summer 2015.  

Small funders will see their name on the website, while higher donations come with access to other cool things.

You can find and follow the project on Kickstarter:

Below Marielle Anzelone tells about the idea of the PopUp Forest: Times Square. 

Why is it cool?

Forests can now just pop up somewhere. I think this is why it makes it such a great and inspirational idea. If a forest can make it in Times Square, it can make it anywhere. Besides, this forest connects people to nearby nature. Design, education, and government are interwoven to promote this relationship.

I’m quite sure, this PopUp Forest will inspire people to come with other durable initiatives and ensures a better future for crowded cities. 

The PopUp Forest ensures that the nature will be into people’s everyday lives.

Let’s work together and fight against climate, environmental and globalization/urbanization problems, to work on a livable and durable city for the future. Our quality of life will increase by this on different aspects, like for example on the emotional wellbeing. In a sustainable city of the future we may be the happiest.

Places will get greener and hopefully there will be a balance between crowded places and nature.