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Australian/New Zealand ‘Smart Urban Solutions’ mission to the Netherlands

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Following the Smart City mission from the Netherlands that coincided with the visit of the Dutch Royal Couple in November 2016, earlier this month a combined Australian/New Zealand ‘Smart Urban Solutions’ mission visited the  Netherlands. The week-long visit focused on urban (re)development, smart mobility, the future of energy and sustainable building and innovative solutions created to alleviate pressure on our living environment.

The week commenced with a tour of the NDSM wharf in Amsterdam, an area redeveloped from a former shipyard to an inspiring hub of creativity. On Monday, the delegation was received by Arjan van Timmeren, scientific director of the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions. Carolien Gehrels, European Director of Arcadis presented the visitors with an overview of the city of the future and Amsterdam’s approach to urban innovation. A tour of the ZuidAsDok, a large project improving the accessibility of the northern Randstad was also included.

On Tuesday, the group visited Eindhoven, focusing on smart mobility at Eindhoven University of Technology and the redevelopment of the former Philips terrain. The day was concluded with a reception hosted by H.E. Matthew Neuhaus, Australian ambassador to the Netherlands.

Lord Mayor of Rotterdam, Ahmed Aboutaleb, kindly hosted the group for a vegan dinner at Rotterdam City Hall on Wednesday evening and spoke inspiringly about stimulating innovation and tackling challenges around the environment, quality of food, affordability and productivity gains.

On Thursday, the group visited the Innovation Expo in Rotterdam, with keynote speeches from Kajsa Ollongren, Dutch Vice Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations and Prof. Dr Louise Fresco, Chair of the Governing Board of Wageningen University & Research Centre. Moreover, several hundred Dutch innovations around mobility, energy, circular economy and the built-up environment were presented during the Expo.

During their final two days, the group had a packed program. They visited TU Delft, focusing on circular energy, climate proof design and sustainability. The Australians and New Zealanders also visited Delft Green Village, where students experiment with sustainable building and even a hyper loop. They enjoyed a tour of the famous Markthal in Rotterdam and met with Winy Maas. Mr Maas is co-founder and director of MVRDV, a global operating architecture and urbanism practice that counts Markthal as one of its signature projects (see picture above).

The week was concluded with a visit to Studio Daan Roosegaarde in Rotterdam, where Mr Roosegaarde showed the delegation his innovative past and present projects. These include the Smog Free Tower and “Water Light”, a virtual light flood show that demonstrates how high the water could reach in the future as a consequence of global warming, raising awareness about climate change.