The inaugural Bolidt Design Challenge has been awarded to Meyer Werft concept designer Thorben Stubbe for a versatile, carbon-negative cruise decking solution that combines science and nature to stunning effect. Named ‘Algae Lifecycle Floor’ (ALF), the innovative concept will now be turned into a physical sample and displayed at the Bolidt Innovation Center outside Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
After accepting the award at Cruise Ship Interiors Expo Europe, ExCeL London on 1 December, Stubbe commented: “I am honoured to be the first recipient of the Bolidt Design Challenge award and excited about seeing ALF on display at the Innovation Center. Hopefully in the near future, we’ll be seeing it in operation on board cruise ships, where it can be of significant value in efforts to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint.”
Applicable to both indoor and outdoor spaces in the form of flooring, partitioning, wind protection or wall decoration, ALF comprises lightweight, hardwearing and sustainable materials including soya resin, hemp fibre and bamboo. At its core are a bioplastic water tank containing live algae, which convert carbon dioxide into oxygen, and Pavegen tiles, which turn kinetic energy from footsteps into electricity. As well as powering the pumps needed for cultivating the algae, this electricity provides energy for cylinders that raise built-in furniture in the day – for lounging and sunbathing – and retract it in the evening to make way for a dance floor, itself a key part of the ALF system.
As envisioned by Stubbe, any excess kinetic energy can be used to power RGB LED lights for an interactive game in which participants take to the dance floor to charge spare batteries. With the colour of the glowing floor indicating charge, the winners are the first group to change their section from red to green. The power generated during the competition can be reverted into the system to feed the hotel load, minimising the vessel’s reliance on conventional energy sources. To facilitate dancing and other activities, the flooring material is inherently flexible and gentle on the joints.
“I am delighted to present the very first Bolidt Design Challenge award to Thorben Stubbe, whose awe-inspiring concept perfectly captures everything we set out to achieve with this initiative,” said Jacco van Overbeek. “Algae Lifecyle Floor is, in the most literal sense, a living, breathing solution. In line with Bolidt’s own values, it has great potential to support the cruise industry in meeting its sustainability targets.”
Another environmental benefit of ALF is that the algae cultivated on the ship can be used in a biogas plant for additional energy or as fertiliser for the plants on board. Yet the system’s green credentials extend beyond the vessel. For example, the algae-based fertiliser can also be used in farming the soya, hemp and bamboo from which the decking solution is made, thereby completing the lifecycle. Meanwhile, since these crops absorb CO2 as they grow, only releasing it again when the end product is scrapped, their cultivation is entirely carbon neutral.
“As well as meeting the criteria on originality and functionality, the clarity of purpose and interactive core of Thorben’s solution has set the bar extremely high for future Design Challenges,” added Van Overbeek. “The maritime industry is bursting with design talent and we are delighted to have encouraged some of its gifted practitioners to share their sometimes astonishing ideas with us.”