Glow in the dark canals


Presented at the last PechaKucha in Amsterdam on 24 April, Italian architect Carlo Morsiani has come up with the idea of using luminescent bacteria to turn Amsterdam’s canals into glowing turquoise water, illuminating the canals and purifying them at the same time. The mock up is very attractive, it makes the canals look like those hotel swimming pools with the underwater lights.

In theory, the combination of two bacteria (Shewanella) converts electricity into motion, and the second (Photobacteria) consequently emits light in moving water. This bacteria is implemented to design lighting elements at different scales — from entire canals to window elements.

Morsiani says his project is easy to explain yet difficult to achieve. And I have so many questions. Knowing that canal water ends up in the sea, is this a good idea? Will it really purify the water? Won’t it upset fish and plant life? And the $64,000 question: who’s going to pay for it? I would start with a much smaller project first to test the waters.

(Link:, Photo of Herengracht, Amsterdam by zamito44, some rights reserved)


  1. Aren’t Amsterdam canals flushed every night?

    Comment by zutman — May 17, 2012 @ 11:41 pm

  2. I was told that as well, making this project even more futile…

    Comment by Orangemaster — May 18, 2012 @ 10:35 am

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