What started as a humble fishing village on the Amstel River in the late 1200’s Amsterdam has grown into one of Europe’s most beautiful, vibrant, innovative and smart cities. When a city’s average height is 2m below sea level, its citizens have a well-founded respect for water. Over the decades what was once a swamp, thanks to 11 million pylons, is now a booming metropolis with 165 canals (approximately 100km) and 1281 bridges. No wonder it is known as the Venice of the North.
The canals in Amsterdam are unique in that, like ripples from a pebble, they have been designed to form concentric circles from a central point. All this water comes with a different lifestyle, you will find the only floating flower market, Bloemenmarkt, a kaleidoscope of colour on Singel Canal. There are also some 2500 houseboats in Amsterdam, some are homes, other hotels, there is even a cat houseboat that provides refuge for some 50 cats called de Poezenboot.
As you can imagine the canals are not always the cleanest, but the Amsterdammers have come up with some ingenious ways to keep them clean. Some invented the “Great Bubble Barrier”, a simple concept of creating a barrier with air bubbles that moves plastic to the edge of the canal for collection, but the most ingenious is a social enterprise called the Plastic Whale which gives tourists and locals the opportunity to fish for plastic, plastic which they in turn use to make the boats to take the tourists fishing …. now that is smart!