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Rotterdam intends to use the World Expo 2025 as a platform for a sustainable, circular economy. This is more than a preference, it is essential at the rate we currently consume the earth’s resources. The expo is a decade away and the moment for change is now. What can we do to achieve this, not only in Rotterdam 2025, but across the globe? We aim to address the underlying themes of progress and innovation, from the perspective of technology and education.

As UNESCO[1] states education is key to a global integrated framework of sustainable progress. Education plays a vital role in shaping a person’s values and behaviour, and technology is a driver and enabler of innovation. We propose a floating school that propagates a hands-on way of educating. By creating better opportunities to interact, learn and experience, we move towards a more sustainable society.

The floating school will travel the world, starting well before the Expo in Rotterdam, employing networks of the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions[2] and Studio X[3].These organisations deal with the energy issue as a cultural one, utilizing not only architecture and urbanism, but film, art, design and other cultural systems as well as tools in their projects.  It will move from one educational site to another, cultivating global connections.

The school represents a generation interested in finding economic, ecological and sustainable solutions across borders. The aim is to experience, develop and share knowledge and technology, while cultivating conscious and sustainable interaction between human and nature.

The school begins as a small floating island – consisting of various flexible spaces, suitable for a variety of academic uses, such as lectures, workshops and experimentation. The school will transform and evolve, influenced by and through collaboration by on-going topics and projects of the places it visits. The school will grow and shed spaces for experimentation and research in the course of its travels. It uses local materials and various means of rapid prototyping to add new and alter existing rafts. The spaces that benefit the local community and university or become obsolete can be left behind as a legacy.

The curriculum focuses on  values of human nature and focuses on communication in order to raise awareness and strive towards a sustainable, fair and respectful society. The sustainable and innovative technologies integrated in the school are used as teaching tools to show and provoke thoughts about sustainable living. The school serves not only a teaching purpose; it also acts as a research platform, forming a nomadic, border-crossing collaboration on sustainable innovation. The curriculum will stimulate creative thinking; be it for new sustainable inventions or implementing existing ones.

Prior to the Expo in 2025 the school would arrive in Rotterdam’s Merwe-Vierhavens, connecting the upcoming Clean Tech Delta Campus with the RDM Campus on the south bank and engaging the community through the curriculum. During the Expo it can serve as an show pavilion, representing the global educational initiative. Afterwards it would continue its nomadic course, Rotterdam just being one of its many destinations.


[1]              UNESCO. (2015). Rethinking Eduction - Towards a global common good? place de Fontanay: UNESCO.

[2]              Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions. (2015). Opgehaald van AMS Amsterdam:

[3]              Columbia University. (2015). Opgehaald van GSAPP:



Berend Raaphorst – Architecture & the Built Environment [Hyperbody], Delft

Jos Volkers – Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam
Marie-Annabella Randel - Frank Mohr International Masters, Groningen