The Living Lab course is an integral component of the MSc MADE graduation year. Collaborating with diverse partners and stakeholders from the AMS Institute’s network and the city, such as Deloitte, MIT, and SAIL Amsterdam, students tackle metropolitan challenges and invent solutions that contribute to a sustainable and livable city. A living lab is a real-world, small-scale environment or setting where new ideas, technologies, and solutions are tested, implemented, and studied in a collaborative and participatory manner. The Living Lab term emphasize the interactive and experimental nature of the environment. During this period, Amsterdam serves as a case study, providing a dynamic backdrop for practical exploration and development.
Besides engaging in co-creation sessions, design work, and stakeholder interviews the students have been working on a documentary, to showcase their key findings and their process!
CASE 1: The Quay of the Future, MIT
The City of Amsterdam is currently faced with significant challenges: the need to replace 200 km of quay walls and 850 bridges, and the commitment to achieve climate neutrality by 2030. These challenges present opportunities to rethink the city's operations and explore innovative functions for quay walls.
Five students from the MADE master examined the implementation of energy systems in the quay walls of Amsterdam, with a focus on aqua thermal energy from surface water – Thermische Energie uit Oppervlaktewater (TEO) – systems. Their research employed a mixed-method approach, including literature reviews, stakeholder analyses, expert interviews, and co-creation sessions. Central to the study is the exploration of the challenges and solutions associated with the integration of TEO-systems into the city's infrastructure. With this research they hope to raise awareness about the potential and limitations of these systems.
Project members: Florens Jocker, Marieke Buisman, Marleen Hofs, Nina te Groen, Yaser Harara
Curious? Watch their documentary!
CASE 2: Navigating towards a sustainable food supply system at SAIL 2025
Can events inspire society?
Events are an indispensable part of our society and can be seen as mini-societies, encountering sustainability challenges that parallel those of broader societal context. events can play a pivotal role in propelling society towards sustainability as they influence their surroundings. The power of events lies in their capacity to act as catalysts, inspiring stakeholders and visitors and potentially instigating change in their behavior.
SAIL Amsterdam is a large-scale open event where monumental sailing ships navigate Amsterdam’s iconic waters for five days. Like any other event, SAIL copes with sustainability challenges such as: the food supply system. Five MSc students have been working on the Living Lab for SAIL focusing on how to make the food supply for the general public at SAIL 2025 more sustainable.
Through a co-creation session and multiple interviews with stakeholders and experts, the team developed recommendations for SAIL on different themes (Communication, menu-engineering, organization & relation and finance), considering impact, desirability, and catalytic effects for the city.
Project members: Amber Lijzen, Anneke Haverlag, Sophie Bakker, Trijntje Verschuuren, Yse Tuynman
Curious about their findings?
“One of our interviewees shared a valuable insight: "Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good." This quote strongly resonated with us, guiding our journey toward a sustainable food supply system”
CASE 3: Happy tree sensor, AMS-institute
Are there happy tree's in Amsterdam?
In the era of climate change, trees play a crucial role in urban areas by adding adaptive values. However, the public often overlooks the well-being of these vital allies. A stark example is the storm in Amsterdam in 2020, which uprooted over 500 trees due to poor living conditions, limited space, and declined biodiversity. Besides, studies also show that city trees have higher mortality rates than their forest or rural counterparts. The happiness of trees is inherently intertwined with human happiness. Therefore, in our quest for personal happiness, it is crucial to comprehend the happiness of trees.
The five students working on this Living Lab worked on a Happy Tree Sensor aiming to retain the benefits of trees by enhancing public awareness and engagement. They tried to develop methods to measure tree happiness using sensors and communicate it to the public, building on the Living Lab 2022 results. The final product contains three parts: the sensor, physical interaction, and dashboard parts. Every part serves different functions and users while interconnecting with each other.
Project members: Daphne Palza Aleman, Mike Cleintuar, Thomas van der Deijl, Yun-Ching Wu, Yulin Yang
Curious about happy tree's?
CASE 4: De Ceuvel 3.0
De Ceuvel is a temporary redevelopment project of a former industrial area in Amsterdam Noord. The site has been transformed into a creative hub that is well-known for its bottom-up approach to innovation and sustainability. However, time has caught up and what was once a novelty is now outdated. In addition, the traditional residents of Amsterdam Noord, who are working class, do not resonate with the place as it is quite a homogeneous group of higher educated, leftist people.
Soon, the Amsterdam Municipality is giving out a new tender to permanently redevelop the area.
The five students of the MADE master saw this as an opportunity to improve outdated sustainability innovations and reconnect the site to the community of Noord. They facilitated co-creation sessions involving both the community and experts, conducted interviews with residents from the area, and formulated guidelines for the socially inclusive redesign of the De Ceuvel site. This initiative aims to seamlessly integrate the site into Amsterdam Noord. Through the co-creation sessions, residents shared their perspectives on the essential features they would appreciate in a (semi) public space.
Project members: Elise Rutten, Bianca Bodewes, Margot van Borren, Sam Groen, Sacha van Slobbe
CASE 5: Towards a circulair Marine terrain with a mini biodigester
The production of biogas from food waste in cities has enormous potential. It offers numerous advantages, touching upon various topics such as climate change, clean and local energy and food waste reduction. Currently, the City of Amsterdam incinerates 70,000 tons of household food waste annually, even though digestion and composting are much cheaper, cleaner, and more sustainable alternatives to incineration. However, it is challenging to implement a biodigester in a city, since it is a niche technology.
The five students working on the urban biodigester, researched the implementation of small-scale biodigesters in the city of Amsterdam. Through a living lab approach, experts were engaged in co-creation to identify challenges, discuss solutions, and translate them into requirements. The first tool addresses the "how" of the challenge, guiding implementation. The second is a doughnut deal, where 6 stakeholders signed their commitment to work towards a biodigester on the Marineterrein. The third tool is a GIS tool pinpointing suitable locations for small-scale biodigesters in Amsterdam.
Project members: Abbe Hekkert, Helen Huang, Maurice Bolle, Nils Wolff, Stijn Bruijsten
Curious about a biodigester?
CASE 6: A Sweet Spot for Public Lighting in Amsterdam, Municipality of Amsterdam
Public lighting, such as street lighting, is essential for enhancing visibility, beautifying public spaces, and promoting safety. However, it's crucial to recognize the negative impact of excessive artificial lighting, known as light pollution. Despite being a global concern, light pollution is often underestimated. It not only hinders our view of stars but also adversely affects human health, ecosystems, energy consumption, and our sense of safety.
In addressing this issue, five students redefined the purpose of public lighting using a phenomenological framework. Through co-creation methods, they incorporated diverse urban stakeholder perspectives to develop an inclusive lighting solution that minimizes harmful effects. They produced a decision tree, guiding the Amsterdam municipality to make informed decisions on public light brightness levels. The approach emphasizes social factors and advocates moving away from a car-centric, wayfinding approach to light brightness prescriptions.
Project members: Hidde Zweekhorst, Jacob Zakrzewicz, Judith Nijman, Sem Apon, Thanaphat Sangkharom
“As the only woman in the team, I find it interesting to share my key learning. The most intriguing aspect of light that I discovered revolves around the intricate connection between safety, the feeling of safety, and public lighting. I've always avoided dark places like parks, if well-lit areas guarantee safety. However, I've come to realize that light doesn't necessarily equate to safety. Despite a well-lit area, without the presence of others or surveillance cameras, how can I be sure of my safety there? Interestingly, it might even be safer for me to bike through a completely dark park, as fewer people are likely to be present in such conditions. Consequently, I can pass through without encountering any issues.”
CASE 7: Urban Green: Green places happy resident, cherishing nature amidst the concert. The municipality of Amsterdam
Did you know that urban green spaces can make a big difference in our lives?
The Amsterdam municipality is developing a "green monitor" to measure the status of urban green areas and track changes over time. This initiative aims to operationalize the municipality's Green Vision/Groenvisie Amsterdam policy. However, the current monitor lacks a crucial component: assessing the appreciation and utilization of urban green spaces by residents. The 5 MSc MADE students explored the appreciation of urban green by Amsterdam’s residents and how they can better connect with the municipality. They conducted interviews with experts and residents and performed field research to understand the needs of residents. Based on their findings, the students proposed a digital dashboard as a solution to enhance communication and feedback between residents and the municipality. With this tool, residents can easily share their thoughts and suggestions on urban green spaces, helping the municipality make better-informed decisions that benefit everyone.
Project members: Benthe Thielen, Cátia da Silva Ribeiro, Kuba Kowalski, Mark Prins, Yuval Tshuva
CASE 8: Vehicles of Tomorrow
What will be the vehicle of the future?
MINI aims to develop sustainable products and production lines to contribute to more sustainable cities and foster a diverse and inclusive society. To achieve these objectives, MINI seeks to truly understand their primary stakeholders: the city and its citizens, along with their pressing future challenges. This understanding serves as a foundation for developing future visions.
This is where the MADE students step in. The MADE students conducted research as part of the Vehicle of the Future Living Lab project, exploring the potential future role of vehicles in urban environments with a focus on low-car developments. The final output is a set of recommendations designed to inform MINI's strategic decision-making, guiding their active participation in the mobility transition. These recommendations aim to contribute to the transition roadmap and enhance understanding of the urban challenges associated with this transformative shift. The students employed future-thinking methodologies, resulting in the creation of a comprehensive guideline for MINI grounded in scientific research and tailored to meet stakeholder needs.
Project members: Carlos Herrera Ventosa, Fenne Wijminga, Marta Nosowicz, Savanna Kamsma, Sven van Biezen
CASE 9: Bio-based construction
In the face of both the climate and housing crises, the construction industry needs to transition to radically sustainable ways of working, embracing more biobased and circular construction practices. Biobased construction, such as carbon-capturing materials like hemp and straw, offers advantages with a negative carbon impact over a 50-year life cycle. Accelerating the biobased transition requires reducing entry barriers for producers, particularly addressing funding and certification challenges. 5 students organized a consortium of biobased material producers to streamline production, marketing, and testing. By combining materials into systems, like biobased prefab wall module, costs can be shared and reduced, ensuring compatibility, and simplifying on-site construction without requiring specialized knowledge.
Project members: Julia Roks, Luuk van der Veekens, Oleg Khoroshev, Patricia Braña Nuez, Pelle Kuppens
CASE 10: Travel to Artis
How do you travel to Artis?
In this research, conducted by five students, the focus was on transitioning from the current unsustainable mobility system to alternative transportation modes for leisure and event locations, using ARTIS, Amsterdam's iconic zoo, as a case study. The modal split for travel to ARTIS was determined through surveys of visitors and employees, and interviews with various stakeholders were conducted. A co-creation session involved stakeholders discussing potential interventions to reduce car use to the venue. Internal and external challenges, as well as potentials, within the current mobility system were identified.
Project members: Annika Waltmann, Hannah Norman, Mary‐Ann van Kanten, Mateo Carvajal, Pearl Yeh