In 1998, our friend Arie Taal built a floating island in the Nieuwe Vaart canal in Amsterdam, opposite the Oosterkerk ‘t Yland. The island is constructed completely out of blocks of styrofoam, held together by nothing but rope. Arie's floating island was designed to draw attention to the enormous ecological challenges the world faces in disposing of synthetic materials. It points to one possible way of reusing synthetics to create sustainable shelter in a city where affordable housing is in short supply. Decades later, Arie's island still stands, and on it rests his cabin, a storage space, and a lush garden.
The island has now become a foundation---a designated cultural heritage---and Ari, his wife Kerstin, and their neighbors try to shield it from ever-encroaching urbanization.We visited the island in the spring of 2018 and again in the spring of 2020.After each visit, we fear that this could be our last goodbye. We hope that Arie's floating island will stand as a monument to a man who wanted to make a quiet statement about treating the earth with respect. If you'd like to see the full series, download the PDF catalogue here.