A city literally built on water – what could be better for The Universal Sea?!

In a flurry of packing suitcases and double-checking for passports, The Universal Sea is off to Amsterdam, 21-22 June 2018, for our next European station!

This time our event is part of a city-wide multi-day festival called WeMakeThe.City Festival which celebrates and problematizes all aspects of cities and urban living. WeMakeThe.City Festival runs from 20-24 June 2018, all over the Amsterdam metropolitan area and events relate to a range of city-related themes such as sustainability, inclusivity, health, happiness, mobility, creativity etc.


In an odd little coincidence, I happened to be visiting Amsterdam last weekend and was struck by the unique aesthetic and feel of the city. I have to admit that I am not particularly well travelled; I have not been to hundreds of cities around the world. But from time to time, and maybe you’ve experienced this phenomenon too, I visit a city and am strongly reminded of another. Sometimes this feeling of mirror cities is quite unexpected, for example Oulu – a small city on the North West coast of Finland, perplexingly evokes strong nostalgia for my hometown of Newcastle – a much larger city on the East Coast of Australia. However, Amsterdam did not remind me of any other city I have previously travelled. All of which is a roundabout way of conveying my enthusiasm for WeMakeThe.City Festival, because I imagine that some pretty interesting and creative ideas about urban living will emerge from a festival based in/on such a unique city.

As with our prior stations in Poland, Finland, and Kosovo, the Amsterdam programme boasts a slew of speakers from varied and fascinating backgrounds. Sietse Gronheid, the project manager of WASTED will be presenting. WASTED is a community initiative developed by CITIES Foundation, whereby members who separate their trash are rewarded with digital coins that can be exchanged for discounts and benefits with participating WASTED partners. For a completely hypothetical example – one bag of separated paper waste might get you one digital coin which could then be exchanged for a coffee at a participating cafe. WASTED aims to encourage recycling as well as the transition to a more circular city and economy.



Lucas Evers, head of the open wetlab at Waag Society will also be joining us. Lucas has a rather diverse background. He joined Waag in 2007 but has previously worked at De Balie Center for Culture and Politics and Melkweg in Amsterdam. His background is in fine arts, teaching and politics and his interests lie with interactions between artistic and scientific research.

Waag Society operates at the intersection of science, technology and the arts (based solely on Lucas Evers’ bio, I can understand how he and Waag fit together). The society focuses on new and emerging technologies and their potential to influence social change.



The next presenter is Kaori Pi from MOST Collective. Her background is very multidisciplinary combining: finance, art history, environmental design, textiles and even pastry and chocolate.

MOST is a global design collective that has collaborated with Durat (presented by CEO Heikki Karppinen at our Helsinki/Espoo station) to create a line of sustainable surface material which blends recycled post-industrial plastics with natural pigments used by painters in the Dutch Golden Age.



Carina van Uffelen, media coordinator from Plastic Soup Foundation is also presenting. The mission statement of the foundation is admirably simple – “No plastic waste in our water!” They aim not to remove existing plastic waste from waterways, but instead to tackle the problem at the source so that more plastic pollution does not find its way into our water. Plastic Soup Foundation constantly draws attention to the epidemic of plastic pollution through campaigns, news and social media.

Also presenting is Jonathan Morrison the co-founder of WasteBoards, which is (and I don’t mean to be biased) one of the most innovative concepts I have come across. WasteBoards manufacture skateboards from found plastic bottle caps! Each board is made by hand and has a unique design. Much like Durat, the company aims to alter the perception of plastic – from disposable and wasteful to raw material for high quality and durable products.

Finally, we have Caroli Buitenhuis from Green Serendipity. Caroli is an innovator and consultant with experience in the fields of bioplastics, biobased packaging and circular concept development. Her expertise is put to perfect use within Green Serendipity as the consultancy firm specialises in bioplastics, bio packaging, circular concepts and sustainable chain innovation. The firm’s services especially target transition from a linear based economy to a circular one.

WeMakeThe.City Festival has a very full and interesting programme, so there will be a lot to see and do during 21-22 June. However, if you feel like getting involved in an interdisciplinary event that mixes art, science and entrepreneurship with a strong environmental agenda, I highly recommend The Universal Sea Amsterdam station!