Novel ideas show Dutch tech skills

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 April, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 April, 2001, 12:00am

When it was unveiled at the Hannover Expo last year, the Dutch affectionately called the unusual housing solution, a 'Dutchburger'.

It is not difficult to see why.

The 40-metre high building was without walls, had a flower garden, an area covered in trees, roots and dunes, as well as a water basin on top with six windmills above, all layers stacked on top of each other.

The six-layer building was meant to demonstrate creative use of limited space, which like in Hong Kong, is scarce in the Netherlands.

But more than anything, what it demonstrated was the kingdom's innovative bent and technological skills. The Dutch are known for their technical feats, considering the country's cities are built below sea level. Managing nature is nothing new to the Dutch.

Innovative solutions are being sought for almost every facet of life in Netherlands.

Take for example, the Trigger 50, an alternative to a car to get through heavy city traffic.

Designer Jeroen Boekhoorn says, that 'from an engineering point of view, its mostly a scooter' The frame is made of powder-coated steel and and the bodywork of coloured polyester, so that scratches can be polished off.

The machine is largely maintenance- free. All that is necessary is to install a new sparkplug every 5,000 kilometres. The engine is 500cc TGB with variomatic gearbox. It runs on petrol and was developed and put on the market by Trigger Technics BV of Lieden.

The design was largely inspired by Italian scooters and small motor vehi cles. 'I was on holiday in Italy and saw small Fiats and scooters ... and I thought there should be something in between,' designer Boekhoorn says.

'With this three-wheeled scooter that's exactly what I created.'

It has been designed with a relatively large boot to accommodate luggage and shopping.

Versions with a roof and a windscreen are also in development.

Trigger Technics regards the petrol- engine version as a first step towards versions with a four-stroke, LPG (liquefied petroleum gas), electric and perhaps even hybrid drive units.

An electric version is in development in Switzerland.

Another cool transport idea has come from a joint effort between the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), Gazelle, Nike and Stork. The Mitka, as it is known, comes in two versions - a two-wheeler (bike) and a three-wheeler (trike).

Mitka stands for 'mobility concept for short-distance individual transport'.

TNO developed it, Stork came up with the drive technology, Gazelle produced it and Nike supported the research, testing and public awareness.

The Mitka, which is powered like a bicycle, can be supplied with a built-in electric motor, which in effect doubles its pedal power.

The machine's designer says that because the chassis tilts, a rider can take bends at an angle.

It is ergonomically designed and suitable for both big and small people, he says.

The integrated transmission is maintenance-free, the developers say.

It also comes with an option of a cover to shield the rider from the elements.

Peter Joore, industrial designer with the Durable Product Development department at TNO Institute of Industrial technology, says the Mikta 'has space for a child's seat and shopping bags'.

Besides, the Mitka is 'easy to manoeuvre and park, and is not expensive to buy or to maintain.'

And yes, it looks cool.