The lowdown on Llowlab

A new llowlab course offers international students the chance to apply sustainable technological innovations in the Lowlands.

The Revolt House concept was a highlight of Llowlab 2011. (Photo: courtesy of revolthouse.com)
The Revolt House concept was a highlight of Llowlab 2011. (Photo: courtesy of revolthouse.com)

Nowadays, festivals and sustainable innovation always seemingly to go hand-in-hand. In 2007, the Minnesota State Fair folks transfixed me with their ‘Eco Experience’. At Lollapalooza 2009 in Chicago, the friendly faces behind the stands showcasing their bleeding-heart plans to save the Earth captivated me. And similarly, this year’s Dutch Lowlands Festival (August 17-19), held in the quaint town of Biddinghuizen, promises not to disappoint. ‘Llowlab’ - Lowlands’s science islands, filled with sustainable innovations – will return for a third year in a row, merrily mixing science and music.
Llowlab is the music festival’s science and innovation playground, where national and international players in science and technological education present ideas for sustainable innovation. According to Gijs Houwen, a trainee at TU Delft’s Valorisation Centre who is working together with Gertjan de Werk on this year’s contribution, “there is a substantial collaboration at Llowlab between universities, knowledge centers and companies who aim to attract and motivate a large audience for innovations in science.”

Indeed, TU Delft is one of the earliest participants in Llowlab, where its students and researchers present their ideas for sustainable solutions to our most pressing problems. “Llowlab is an opportunity to translate theory into tangible results for students, as well as providing a platform for collaboration among student initiatives like the Energy Club, researchers and spin-offs from TU Delft,” Houwen explains. “The festival provides us the opportunity to do this in an unconventional, interactive and attractive manner.”

TU Delft has a strong tradition of creating engineers capable of producing tangible solutions to problems. Consequently, the university is now offering a design course specifically for preparing for Llowlab. The course, taught by Gertjan de Werk, is an interfaculty elective offered through the faculty of Technology, Policy and Management, called ‘Sustainable Innovation in Practice’, in which groups of international and Dutch students will conceive and build prototypes and demonstrations of sustainable innovations. The final products that students will present at Llowlab 2012 will be formally presented at the TU Delft in June. The course is still open to Challent and MSC students who want to prototype their own ideas on sustainability, or simply contribute to the TU Delft’s Llowlab efforts.

“The things we want to focus on in the course this year are specifically related to the festival itself, like how to use the hidden energy potential of the waste from the festival, or address the energy being used by the festival by looking at unconventional ways of generating sustainable energy,” Houwen explains. “Some things we aim to realize – but still have to be fully designed and built - are: a well working smart grid using only sustainable energy sources; a sustainable hot tub; a high-tech bamboo pavilion; and a black-light disco based on fluorescent bacteria and recycling plastic waste, so it can be used as input material for 3D-printing.” Houwen says that this year the aim is to “present TU Delft as a centre for sustainable innovation” to Lowland’s 55,000 festival-goers.

If you’re interested in joining the Llowlab course (WM0227TU/5 ECTS), please contact: Gijs Houwen g.c.houwen@tudelft.nl or Gertjan de Werk g.dewerk@tudelft.nl

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