Projects with the Living Station Lab

Our new facilities the Living Station Lab at WdKA is running since October 2022 and hosted already some nice projects.

If you wonder what can be done in our new station here are few examples:

Putting down roots

Esther came to work in the Living Lab to be able to grow mycelium and visualize the network it created when growing. The connection between humans and the fungi world is a topic we would like to explore further in the Living Station Lab.

“The Living Station Lab has been a great support in realizing this project. Growing mycelium cultures and looking at them through the microscope helped me enter the hidden world of fungi and gave me a bigger understanding and appreciation of the wonderful realm of mycelium.” – Esther Maij, Fine Art Graduate WDKA 2023

Human mycelium

Human Mycelium is part of the research project Putting Down Roots, a multidirectional exploration of roots and rhizomes, situated on Buitenplaats Brienenoord. Human Mycelium is a collective action of recreating tree roots and fungi overground. Join in and become the ‘human mycelium’ by artificially connecting these separated trees together with branches and string, highlighting their interconnected nature. The work was exhibited during the Graduation Show 2023 in front of the Willem de Kooning Bleak entrance.

Putting Down Roots investigates how the ‘invisible’ life below the forest can be made visible and how humans can form sustainable sympoietic relationships with nature. From the rhizomatic (non-linear) research emerged multiple artworks as fruiting bodies.



Anne Visser came to work in the Living Station after picking up 50kg of SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast, bacteria cellulose, a leather-like product of tea fermentation) residue from a Kombucha Brewery and started investigating the qualities and possibilities of bacterial cellulose. She experimented with form, colour, texture and function and started growing SCOBYS herself for a light sculpture.
During her research, she discovered that the material has various wonderful qualities that all deserve to be in the spotlight. She combined her findings in a sensory installation in which the material can be experienced in a variety of ways that allow the visitor to become acquainted with bacterial cellulose, such as its smell and taste, growing, harvested, and as a light sculpture.

Anne was very explorative with bacteria cellulose. She could grow large pieces in our storage room and we exchanged about her experiments, especially making the SCOBY conductive. This was a new approach that we hope will be explored further.



The project Scobyosa delves into the realm of bacterial cellulose and its wonderful qualities and potential. Derived from the natural fermentation process of yeasts and bacteria in sweetened tea, the bacteria convert sugars into an organic material: bacterial cellulose. Its appearance possesses an intriguing, otherworldly appearance that simultaneously captivates and challenges.

In the Kombucha industry, bacterial cellulose is a by-product, losing its value. The material holds properties that respond to different senses, allowing the material to be experienced in different ways and making its value transparent. The installation demonstrates the collaborative abilities of the symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY) and the transformative potential of bacterial cellulose. Serving as an invitation to challenge conventional perspectives on organic materials, highlighting the importance of reevaluating our relationship with materials and our understanding of waste in the context of sustainability and interconnectedness.

“SCOBY is only so much: it is alive, it is growing, it is dying, it colours, it is culture, it has a strong aroma, it is a drink, it is a snack, it is slimy, it is strong, it is alien, it is familiar, it repels, it intrigues, is it leather? Is it skin? is it natural, is it synthetic? It is vibrant.” – Anne

Coming soon

Gwen has worked with us on her project about data storage in Living Systems. She discussed her project with us and we helped her via our scientific knowledge to create a visualization of the process using cyanobacteria (photosynthetic microorganisms).


  • Conor Croasdell

Fungal timepiece

Conor has a long experience with the fungi world and let us dive in thanks to his installation created in collaboration with the Living Station Lab. Previously he had to use the facilities of Blue City but since October 2022, he can study at WdKA and drop by the lab to work on his project. Thanks to our Biocabinet he could create a large sterile agar box where several species of mycelium grow and interact with each others.


A growing monument for the lost natures: remediation through mycelium’s metamorphosis

For her project, Artemis wanted to give attention to a polluted area. She came up with a list of toxic chemicals and many questions about it. Since in the lab, we have the microorganism Pleurotus that has the ability to decompose nearly everything, she made experiments to show the power of this fungus to depollute. Mycoremediation is a topic that should be communicated and developed. We are glad to have had the possibility to work with a student of Spacial Design and collaborate via Artemis to this Major.


Julius is fascinated by crystals and has worked on this topic with the Living Station Lab using our expertise and microscopes. He explored all possibilities to improve the imaging of our best microscope and the result turned out stunning.



Creating biomaterials is an innovative and sustainable approach that holds immense potential for addressing environmental challenges and revolutionizing various industries. By utilizing biological resources and processes, designers and researchers are developing materials that are renewable, biodegradable, and have a lower ecological footprint.

Biomaterials encompass a wide range of substances derived from renewable sources such as plants, algae, bacteria, and even waste materials. These materials offer exciting possibilities in fields like packaging, construction, textiles, medicine, and more. They present an alternative to conventional materials, which often contribute to pollution and resource depletion.

One area where biomaterials shine is in packaging. Traditional single-use plastics have become a major environmental concern, polluting our oceans and landfills. Bio-based alternatives, such as bioplastics made from plant starches or bacterial cellulose, offer a more sustainable choice. These materials are designed to break down naturally, reducing the impact on our ecosystems.

In construction, biomaterials are revolutionizing the way we build. Researchers are exploring the use of materials like mycelium (the root structure of mushrooms) as a sustainable alternative to traditional building materials. Mycelium can be grown into various shapes and sizes, making it ideal for creating biodegradable packaging, insulation, and even structural components.

The textile industry is also embracing biomaterials. Fibers made from renewable sources like bamboo, hemp, or pineapple waste offer an eco-friendly alternative to conventional fabrics. These materials are not only biodegradable but also require fewer resources and chemicals during production.

In medicine, biomaterials play a crucial role in regenerative medicine and tissue engineering. Scientists are developing bioengineered scaffolds and implants that can promote tissue regeneration and integration within the body. Materials like collagen, chitosan, and alginate are being used to create biocompatible structures that can assist in wound healing and organ repair.

The field of biomaterials is a fascinating intersection of science, sustainability, and innovation. By harnessing the power of nature, we can create materials that align with the principles of the circular economy, minimize waste, and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. As research and technology continue to advance, biomaterials hold the promise of shaping a more sustainable and environmentally conscious future.



Material District:

Loes Bogers,

Lab Pastoe:



Kite Power in the Press

In the Elective Kites & Energy one of the example projects gaining energy with a Kite was from the Dutch Company Kite Power.

Monday 27-09 this company had an article in the Press: NRC


BoTu review

For scenario’s for BOTU have to be distinguished.

1. Rotterdam: BOTU resilience program:

  • Aanpak in wijken:
  • Armoede
  • Veiligheid
  • Werkgelegenheid
  • Woongelegenheid

2: IABR: studie


Spatial-Energetic Building Block

by OOZE Architects and Urbanists

document: (Dutch)

Study with calculations.

Realistic, SWOT analyse.

3: Huis van de toekomst: House of the Future

Manifesto about “Human Power”, linked to 4:


Human Power Plant:

Speculatief Scenario, energy generated by human power, for example a tram “running on” 60 people making it move.

which comes from:


More about 4:

BoTu – House of the Future – is an initiative to look at the scenario for an area of the city of Rotterdam Bospolder-Tussendijken functioning on their own energy.

Links: (Dutch)

English version:

The story on this website regarding human energy is based on the article in LowTech:

The story starts with a lot of positive things: making your own bread for the community seems nice! Growing your own food – very bucolic. So, a paradise? Well not if there is no wind and sun: then the power needed must be provided by your exercise!

Speculative Design

The stories in my opinion are “speculative design”, this means they provide an impression. For instance they suggest to be able to say no “to modern healthcare, which is completely dependent on fossil fuels. Yet the inhabitants are just as healthy as other Dutch people.” (citation from the site

To me personally this sounds strange: people get ill, needing special care, specialized hospitals.

Or: “the residents … are flocking to the main shopping street. They do this on their own, without the use of fossil fuels or electricity.” (citation from the site

To me this sounds strange too: I always get around on my bike (on muscle power, not an electrical bike) shopping not with my car. And this bike has to be produced in a big factory, like any bike. This production already has consumed a lot of energy.

On the one hand there is a lot of technology inside this neighborhood, like solar panels and wind turbines, but at the other hand (no wind and sun) everything has to be powered by hand. But where are these solar panels and turbines coming from? And the electronic gadgets for parties which are still organized when there is enough energy?

Human Power

In the story of LOWTECH about muscle power there are self critical remarks included, like “a human generating electricity would earn only 0.015 per hour.”, meaning: can anybody be really motivated to spend 2-6 hours every day on exercise machines for “community purposes”, like in the student house project they describe?

On the BoTu site this slightly critical tone is abandoned. It is suggested that it is possible with human power to provide all the energy needed.

What seems more realistic is the story of the tram line, powered by human energy. They calculate that for a tram having 60 passengers, the energy need to make it move should be coming from 20 persons powering this vehicle with their muscles. Realistic – but then a bit absurd…and do you really need a tram inside this not so big area?

Middle Ages

Reading all the scenario’s a feeling of the Middle Ages with hard labour and little individual choice is coming up. No private space anymore, because sitting together is more energy efficient. Eating in community kitchens (in Dutch “eten wat de pot schaft”), probably what everybody wants, which might be only French fries….(Dutch: Patat).

And maybe that feeling is what is meant. Indeed, maybe we are spending too much energy. Sure! The climate is reacting. But getting back to manual labour for every drop of energy in our climate…


So the purpose of the project is reached for me! Now I am scared!





About Energy Domains, what can and cannot charge your smart phone

Can “anything” which produces “electricity” charge my smart phone?

A solar cell produces electricity, so it should charge my smart phone, or not?

For example – ask yourself which of these project could charge your smart phone:

  1. The dress from solar fiber, amongst others by
  2. The solar shirt of Pauline van Dongen:
  3. A solar cell phone charger: check out the internet for “the best solar phone charger”
  4. A donkey with a solar panel in Izmir, Turkey:
  5. A solar cell you made yourself with titanium dioxide:
  6. moss plants?
  7. your mud cell?
  8. the DIY propellor you see in the image to the right?

Answers: (as always with solar power – there has to be sun, otherwise…but say what are the answers if the sun is really shining!

  1. no, no, no!
  2. maybe…sometimes, a little bit.
  3. maybe but a little bit yes – depending on the Sun, that is is it winter or summer…
  4. yes
  5. no, no, no
  6. no, no, no, no, no
  7. no, no, no, no, nooooooooooooo
  8. no, no, no

Now why is it so difficult to charge that all important device in our life? Because this dear companion uses quite a lot of energy…

And not all sources produce enough real usable energy.

Plants really live on a tiny bit of energy compared to our smart phones. So, yes, plants produce energy, but no, don’t expect one plant, or even a lot of plants, to be able to charge your current smart phone. That for the moss plants…

To charge our cell phone we would need about the energy of a day’s work a human can produce! According to this citation, which claims that a human can produce as much energy as a square meter of solar panel.

  1. Een mens kan op een zonnige dag minstens zoveel energie opwekken als een zonnepaneel van 1m2.

The solar shirt of Pauline van Dongen has “the problem” that it will be worn, carried around, and will not always be in the right angle to rays of the Sun. Pauline showed a picture where she rather hangs the shirt on a wall facing the Sun, making it again into a static solar panel! (Lats Friday during the The Solar Biennale Opening Seminar @ Het Nieuwe Instituut September 9th).

The titanium dioxide cell you can make yourself produces only tiny amounts of either Volts or milliamps, (but we even need to multiply these two numbers…). The same goes for the mud cells.

To generate the amount of energy “we” need, indeed at least the square meters of solar cells you see on all the roofs nowadays, or the big wind turbines, the solar farms…

Why are we still bothering about the smaller domains?

Because for instance sending data costs only a very small amount of energy. And transfer of information is as important as “real” energy.

This is well explained in two excellent BBC documentaries presented by Professor Jim Al-Khalili:

  1. 1 About Order Disorder:
  2. 2 About Information:

If you need to send data, you can use totally other energy sources, much smaller, which cannot charge your smart phone, but could save the world anyway!

This is the domain of energy harvesting: collecting small amounts of energy, and when you have enough – send your data!

  • Tribo electric, rubbing Teflon etc

For data transfer you can use – of course – also smaller solar cells.

Small amount of energy fun:

or make music and sounds using the solar cell (no battery!) in my windowsill:

In 2015 I made a knitting for the E-textile Swatch Exchange, combined with plastic generating enough energy to flash a LED:

I did an experiment with a Peltier element, where the warmth of my hand provides the energy to make a LED flash:

For the preparation of the elective Kites & Energy in 2022 I used a propeller and a small dynamo on a kite to make a LED flash – and using a microcontroller, this became a Morse Code ….

The Morse Code sending circuit:

You see in this video that blowing on the ventilator on the dynamo produces a signal visible on the Oscilloscope: it is enough t0 give a microcontroller energy to make an LED send a Morse Code in flashes:

You can run small motors on the sun: again in my windowsill in the Spring of 2022:


In order to be able to make your project work you need to calculate what energy you need. Then you have to choose from the possibilities available which source will deliver that energy. Also you have to consider the circumstances. You can think the Sun will be able to deliver the energy , but if you will use your design product in Holland the Sun is not always available, so you need to consider alternatives. Power Law: P = V * I, power equals volt times current.

Energy Law : E = P * s, total energy is power times the number of seconds you apply this power.

Ohm’s Law: V = I * R, Voltage equals Current times resistance.

As a calculating example:

And yes, really doing calculations becomes more and more complex…(even for the sending of simple data):

More in depth, calculations for a solar cell:, there you meet the Maximum Power Point Relation!

For instance, my Victory over the Sun garment, a battle agains a solar cell – presented in 2015 in France:

The dress can generate energy by a hand crank and by a solar cell. The challenge is to generate more energy than the solar cell…easy in the dark of course, but not soo simple in the ferocious rays of the sun!

More pictures can be found here:, where you can see that also the electronics involved was a battle, using energy harvesting chips and supercaps…

One of the unexpected problems which I had to solve was how to get rid of the last bit of energy after the game was played. It turned out to be rather difficult to start at zero Volt again, that is, to get all the energy out of the energy storing supercaps. A bit like getting rid of a few kilo’s of unnecessary bodyweight :-).



Decolonizing Science in Latin American Art

Decolonizing Science in Latin American Art, by art historian Joanna Page

ISBN: 9781787359765

Publication: April 15, 2021

Series: Modern Americas

Download here

Projects that bring the ‘hard’ sciences into art are increasingly being exhibited in galleries and museums across the world. In a surge of publications on the subject, few focus on regions beyond Europe and the Anglophone world. Decolonizing Science in Latin American Art assembles a new corpus of art-science projects by Latin American artists, ranging from big-budget collaborations with NASA and MIT to homegrown experiments in artists’ kitchens.

While they draw on recent scientific research, these art projects also ‘decolonize’ science. If increasing knowledge of the natural world has often gone hand-in-hand with our objectification and exploitation of it, the artists studied here emphasize the subjectivity and intelligence of other species, staging new forms of collaboration and co-creativity beyond the human. They design technologies that work with organic processes to promote the health of ecosystems, and seek alternatives to the logics of extractivism and monoculture farming that have caused extensive ecological damage in Latin America. They develop do-it-yourself, open-source, commons-based practices for sharing creative and intellectual property. They establish critical dialogues between Western science and indigenous thought, reconnecting a disembedded, abstracted form of knowledge with the cultural, social, spiritual, and ethical spheres of experience from which it has often been excluded.

Decolonizing Science in Latin American Art interrogates how artistic practices may communicate, extend, supplement, and challenge scientific ideas. At the same time, it explores broader questions in the field of art, including the relationship between knowledge, care, and curation; nonhuman agency; art and utility; and changing approaches to participation. It also highlights important contributions by Latin American thinkers to themes of global significance, including the Anthropocene, climate change and environmental justice.

How to Biodesign Podcast audio recaps

With the meetup series How to Biodesign, BlueCity Lab provides a platform for and by bioneers (pioneers in biodesign). Broadcasted live from BlueCity Lab in Rotterdam, we dive into a new topic every month: from building with mycelium and wood to harvesting solar energy in a natural way. After 10 successful How to Biodesign meetups in 2020, BlueCity Lab is back with 10 new editions in 2021.

The climate and biodiversity crises ask for regenerative design of products, services and systems. With the How to Biodesign meetup series, BlueCity Lab offers a platform for and by bioniers (pioneers in biodesign). Emma van der Leest (founder of BlueCity Lab, biodesigner and author of the book Form Follows Organism) explores the possibilities of a systemic, regenerative approach to raw material flows in conversations with selected professionals from the field.

These monthly meetups facilitate interaction between experienced pioneers and those who want to get started with biodesign and biofabrication, offer a platform to share stories and experiences and to actively share knowledge, know-how and insights about biodesign practices with a wider audience.

Find all audio recaps on Spotify and see the upcoming How to Biodesign Evens here.



BlueCity – Circular Hub

Former swimming paradise Tropicana has developed as a place where all kinds of initiatives in the field of the circular economy come together: BlueCity.

Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences has created an environment in this striking building to offer study programs the opportunity to collaborate on circularity more easily. But it is also possible to rent a space for a meeting.

BlueCity focuses on the city of the future where living and working are central in a circular way. (Starting) entrepreneurs have the space here to implement new ideas, among other things by linking their residual flows. An ideal place for the university of applied sciences to sit in between.

In this way, the university of applied sciences creates a wonderful place to introduce students to circular thinking and working. In the past period, various training courses have collaborated on a project basis with BlueCity and the entrepreneurs established there. The WERKplaats Techniek and WERKplaats Nieuwe Bedrijfigheid of the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, in collaboration with the relevant study programs and the facility services (FIT), have further expanded the cooperation with BlueCity with the aim of creating a place where various disciplines can work together on circular and biobased issues.


The university of applied sciences has rented and furnished an (educational) space in the former swimming paradise where students and teachers can use lab facilities. Hilke Stibbe, project leader WERKplaats technology about these lab facilities: “The lab is suitable for all kinds of crossover applications where students can work with living organisms, the use of fungi, but also for the regular makerspace facilities that serve to create circular solutions. ”

BlueCity will thus become a practice-oriented learning environment where students and teachers come together on the theme of circularity within the economy and of materials and products. In this way, coordination between the various programs dealing with circularity and between Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences and BlueCity is facilitated. The collaboration is in line with the vision of the university of applied sciences to opt for satellite locations where the university of applied sciences can provide education for the students in a dynamic location.

BlueCity as a circular hub is a place where we want students to think about a meaningful future and where they learn to work on circular solutions for our city.


Teaching in BlueCity
The discoruimte is the classroom and circular hub of Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences
Hogeschool Rotterdam provides a space (for ±45 persons, ) students and teachers to help build a new, circular world. Do you want to reserve this space?

Space reservations
Space reservations are made through Naomi Luijkx. She takes care of planning and coordination with colleagues internally and contacts with BlueCity. You can email her via:


Please let us know what your activity is, how long it takes and for how many people. We strive to make the space available as much as possible for several colleagues and students. It is therefore possible that there is also another group. If this is not desirable for your ‘activity’, please indicate this. Then, if possible, we do not plan anything next to your activity.

We have created an agenda for BlueCity in Outlook. Colleagues who (regularly) use the space have full access to the agenda. More information via

Get in touch

Maasboulevard 100
3063 NS Rotterdam for general enquiries

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Podcast – exploring biodiversity in and around the academy

Part of our bioresearch is to investigate the knowledge in New Making Practices within the WdKA. Therefore we made a selection of tutors, workshop instructors, lectors and education staff that explore sustainability, inclusivity, wicked problems within the academy. How do we educate our pioneers in these fields? What do we need and what do they hope for to change within the academy.

Emma van der Leest interview with Nadine Mollenkamp

Ivan Henriques interview with Florian Cramer

Emma van der Leest interview with Carla Arcos

– soon to be published more –