Design, sustainability and the environment are inextricably linked and with the rapid deterioration of the environment in recent years, sustainable design ideas are currently providing innovative solutions to environmental problems.

‘We human beings live a contradiction. In our endeavor to sustain ourselves in the short term we collectively act in destructive ways towards the very things we and all other beings fundamentally depend upon’ (Fry 2009, p. 22) Within his text, Tony Fry highlights this issue of human beings destructing fundamental resources. In relation to this idea, I’ve examined the design project ‘The Recycled Park’. Currently this unique project is underway in the city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands in which litter and waste is retrieved from the Nieuwe Maas River to prevent it being washed out to the North Sea. Floating parks are then created through recycling the collected waste. Essentially the project is based on the idea of enhancing the natural beauty of the city through creating parklands that have been established on recycled waste.

cfd1b910a377(Recycled Park Impression Rotterdam 2014)

This project highlights the importance of design ideas that tackle local issues whilst ultimately having a global impact. Unclean and contaminated water is currently a widespread issue, with it having a detrimental impact on human health and vital aquatic ecosystems. “The recycled Park was an initiative of the ‘Recycled Island Foundation’ and ‘Whim Architecture’” (Inhabitat 2014) and has been an interdisciplinary project in which students from both Rotterdam University and Wageningen University have assisted in the preparation, collection and organization of the waste.

The project works in that waste is retrieved form the river using an already existing plastic visser that collects and sifts through the waste. “The plastic visser utilizes a finger sieve, which separates the large material from the small material and returns the organic waste back into the river. What remains in big bags is clean material that is then able to be recycled to build the foundations of the floating park.” (Recycled Park 2014)

wpd251d54b_05_06e4a2843ac8e4(Recycled Park Impression Rotterdam 2014)

This project highlights the importance that designers have on providing unique solutions to global problems. This design initiative is progressive in the sense that it tackles the issue of waste however it does not solve the problem of the excessive waste being there in the first place. Until the issue of copious amounts of waste existing is tackled from its origin, designers will continue to have to seek methods to challenge the waste produced.


Fry, T. 2009, Design Futuring: Sustainability, Ethics and New Practice, University of New South Wales Press Ltd, Sydney

Recycled Park 2014, Retrieval, The Netherlands, Viewed 24th April 2015, <>

Inhabitat 2014, Rotterdam’s floating, plastic waste-trapping Recycled Park opens this week, Viewed 24th April 2015, <>

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