Circular urban furniture (Making the Green Mile)

How can computational design and robotic production contribute to creating more urban green zones?

Project

Using computational design and robotic production to transform waste materials into sustainable urban furniture – this is central to Making the Green Mile, a collaboration between the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS), UNStudio, GP Groot and Schijf Restoric. The research project is connected to a broader initiative to redesign the public space on Amsterdam's Stadhouderskade.

Can we (re)design the public space in the center of Amsterdam in such a way that pedestrians are given more space? This is the question the UNStudio architectural firm is working on for the Green Mile Plan. The Stadhouderskade, one of the most polluting streets in the Netherlands and home to this firm’s office, is the first area to be examined. The challenge for researchers at the HvA is to come up with a full-scale prototype of urban furniture that contributes to a more livable Stadhouderskade and is made from recycled materials.

“Partly due to the corona pandemic, government and business are increasingly aware that green, healthy and sustainable public spaces are crucial for a liveable city. More and more attention is also being paid to the reuse of materials,” says project leader Pinar Ates, business developer at the AUAS. “With Making the Green Mile, we research and show what is already possible and we encourage the municipality, companies and other stakeholders to think about the possibilities to further 'green' the Stadhouderskade.”

Iterative design-to-production process

The project follows an innovative and iterative process of computational design and digital production. These techniques make it possible to explore with shape and dimensions and to eventually design a whole 'family' of urban elements. The process takes into account the functional requirements that the object must meet, such as appearance, shape, dimensions and structural performance, and the available amounts of materials. The environment where it will end up is also considered: for example, the object may take up parking spaces but not greenery. The prototype has been robotically produced in the AUAS Robot Lab.

Project partners

Making the Green Mile is a collaboration between the Digital Production Research Group of the AUAS, the architectural firm UNStudio, and GPGroot and Schijf Restoric, suppliers of residual and used building materials in the Amsterdam region. The partners work closely together during the process, from the selection of materials to the choice of the final design.

Results

Making the Green Mile links computational design and robotic production to the circular use of wood and other residual and waste materials. The project provides valuable knowledge for new (outdoor) applications. The designs encourage people to think and invite stakeholders to discuss topics such as sustainability, digital design and quality of life in the city. Making the Green Mile thus contributes to the development of a 'smart industry' and the circular economy, both of which are high priority in the national Knowledge and Innovation Agendas for science and technology. In November 2021, the first prototype of a piece of urban furniture was ready. The object can currently be found at the HvA location Leeuwenburg. Simultaneously, the project partners are investigating with the municipality of Amsterdam how to can place the object on the Stadhouderskade in the near future.


Integation of Education, Research and Practice
Various groups of students, interns and graduates of the AUAS are involved in Making the Green Mile. For example, students of Computational Design took part in the first design explorations, and an Industrial Design Engineering (IDE) student did her graduation project on the design phase of the project. During a two-week Makeathon, teachers/researchers and students of the Robotic Production & Circular Materials minor, together with two interns from the Robot Lab and project partners, optimized a design and built a 'conversation piece' for the Stadhouderskade.

Digital Production Research Group

Making the Green Mile contributes to the development of the Digital Production Research Group, which is part of the Center of Expertise Urban Technology of the AUAS. This research group works with wood in various projects, with the overarching theme: Upcycle Wood Factory.

Published by  Faculty of Technology 17 May 2022

Project Info

Start date 01 Feb 2021
End date 30 Jun 2022

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