Double Plus Good – urban green roofs

Standard-Chartered-Bank-London-Biosolar-roof-3 after (c) livingroofs org
Biosolar roof on the Standard Chartered Bank, London

As research shows green roofs are a clever design choice in urban areas. They reduce temperatures and the run off volumes of rainfall leaving roofs and improve the quality of rainwater. Next to estimated thermal performance (especially in summer) green roofs work as sound absorber, reflector and deflector, and lifespans of underlying waterproofing membranes tend to double or even triple. Finally green roofs improve air quality and can be used for urban agriculture, and can be combined perfectly with PV cells to harvest electricity more efficiently.

From nextcity.nl’s perspective the contribution of green roofs as a habitat and refuge for invertebrate populations and their contribution to urban wildlife is key, next to their value as amenity space – the provide green space and green views and thereby improve the quality of life of the city inhabitants. See livingroofs.org for inspiring examples.

Making Urban Nature


Making Urban Nature is a book of examples about nature-inclusive designing of outdoor spaces in European cities. From different angles, this publication addresses the theory of ecology and biodiversity, animals in the city, biotopes in the city and the management of urban nature. It gives ten recommendations for nature-inclusive design, in short:
1. design a process
2. be strategic
3. design inclusively and integrally
4. make complex and diverse designs
5. design points, surfaces and lines into a coherent system
6. design with nature – not against nature
7. let nature and culture inspire you
8. design the management
9. take a stand in the discussions about nature development
10. hang on

I discovered throught this book interesting work of Edouard Francois in Paris. Get inspired to build for biodiversity this summer: Put this guide in your suitcase and visite some fine examples in our European cities.

Parking becomes Park

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Dutch landscape architects Okra designed a biodiverse underground parking garage in Apeldoorn by covering it by a park – characterized by a former hidden natural water stream. The project’s name, Brink Park, unlike the name suggests, was no park at the start. Parked cars and buses dominated the space. OKRA’s plan was to capture as much green space as possible by reducing infrastructure and maximising planting. The result is a green city park that evokes an artificial image of the Dutch Veluwe National Park streams. The Grift, the natural stream that was hidden in an underground tunnel, was once again brought above ground and led the design of the park. In July 2013, the Brink Park was renamed Catharina Amalia Park, after the Dutch Princess.

170321 OKRA_before-after

International Symposium Habitecture. TU Braunschweig, 13-14th of June, 2017

With speakers from the Netherlands, Germany, Chile, Switzerland and Canada the second Habitecture Conference will take in Braunschweig (DE). This two-days symposium addresses architecture for wildlife and brings to the table the newest findings and current research. It is an honour for nextcity.nl to be invited to speak on this occasion.  Join us and find out more at habitecture.de!

Biophilic Cities

What do these cities have in common: Singapore, Portland OR, Wellington, Birmingham, Phoenix AZ, Oslo, Vitoria Gasteiz, San Fransisco CA, New York, London, Pennsylvania, Waikato New Zealand, Mahraashtra, Sao Paulo and Shanghai?

They are committed to develop into biophilic cities. “Biophilia describes how people have innate love for, attachment to, and even need for nature. It expresses the notion that, as a design imperative, cities are more livable when they have more nature, and that people are happier and healthier when they have more contact with nature, from wild parks away from buzzing traffic all the way to street trees and flowers in tree pits” says David Maddox, editor-in-chief of The Nature of Cities.

The online editors of Biophilic Cities state that “we need nature in our lives more than ever today, and as more of us are living in cities it must be urban nature. Biophilic Cities are cities that contain abundant nature; they are cities that care about, seek to protect, restore and grow this nature, and that strive to foster deep connections and daily contact with the natural world. Nature is not something optional, but absolutely essential to living a happy, healthy and meaningful life.” The site is devoted to understanding how cities can become more biophilic, more full of nature, and to telling the stories of the places and people working to creatively build these urban-nature connections.

“The challenge is that the goals of a biophilic city should encompass all aspects of a city, both the software and the hardware”, says Lena Chan, director of the National Biodiversity Centre in Singapore.

Find out more online or check out the most recent publication  from January 2017.

Publication on Floating Gardens

170321 Floating Gardens Tanja Lina
Dutch architect Tanja Lina published a small but fine booklet on floating gardens within the Freestyle booklet series published by the Royal Institute of Dutch architects BNA. In this sixth edition within the series on personal fascinations of architects Lina documents 11 floating gardens in various countries and many of them in urban conditions. The publication contains an analysis of their functions and an inventory of possible construction methods (such as wood, eps, vegetation, textile, steel and re-used materials) – ideally to ‘create your own oasis on the water’.

Freestyle 06 ‘Floating gardens’ Ne-eng

 

Inspiring student work for urban biodiversity

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Seals have been spotted in and around Amsterdam more often recently. Marlena Rether, student of Mathias at the Academy of Architecture Amsterdam, proposes an archipelago of islands in Amsterdam.These islands are made of recycled plastics found in the water of the IJ. They are the resting places for the seals. The islands are floating upon a sort of reef construction that serves as a habitat for the seals’ favorite dish: fresh fish. An urban swim-in restaurants for seals, that can be conveniently spotted by ferry passengers and passers-by.

Marlena Rether and Bart Jonkers, students of this studio at the Academy of Architecture were invited to present their plans at the City of Amsterdam.

Designing bird friendly buildings

As changes in production and construction techniques facilitated the greater use of glass, cities have become more dangerous for birds to navigate through. Untreated glass is responsible for virtually all bird collisions with buildings. The relative threat posed by a particular building depends significantly on the amount of exterior glass, as well as the type of glass used, and the presence of glass ”design traps”.
The Valley is the newest icon to be built on the Zuidas in Amsterdam, designed by MVRDV and developed by OVG. This building combines glass facades and glass balconies with an abundance of trees and shrubs on all floors. The right choice of vegetation will attract lots of birds. An existing and challenging design! But could this healthy environment for people be the death of lots of birds, making it all less pleasant?
The Canadian bird live organisation FLAP published a handbook for architects titled Bird friendly – best practices Glass. It’s full of tips and tricks. With this at hand all architects can make bird friendly buildings. And MVRDV can make the Valley a place to live for all.

Download the handbook here: http://nextcity.nl/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/BF-Best-Practices-Glass_FinalAODA_Bookmarked.pdf.zip

Rooftop Revolution Amsterdam

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Green roofs are good for the city by buffering water, cooling the air, absorbing fine dust and – of course – improving biodiversity. The Amsterdam crowdfunding and crowdsourcing platform Rooftop Revolution launched in 2016 aims to create the newest Dutch natural reserve, right in the middle of Amsterdam. The initiative has realized some 1.300m2 of green roofs in the city so far. With a practical online toolbox the site provides insight in what the options are for individual rooftops, and what costs can be expected. There is also a special incentive for roofs from 200-1.000m2.

Int. Conference on Metropolitan Planning and Ecology

The lecture of M. van Stiphout images: http://nextcity.nl/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/lezingvogelbescherming.pdf.zip

The Dutch Birdlife is contributing to a nature inclusive city. On March 23, we immerse ourselves in the city of the future and we celebrate the successes that have been achieved so far. We’ll be inspired by experts in the field of nature inclusive urban planning and construction. And we’ll hear what birds ‘tell’ us on the future of the built environment.

The development in a dense urban areas, such as the Netherlands and metropolitan regions in other countries, is longing for the combination of good planning including the needs of all that lives.

Builders, architects, planners, managers and conservationists can fully collaborate in creating an urban environment that is good for people and birds. Birds in this context are an indicator of the quality of our environment.

There are sustainable solutions for many urban problems. With the protection program for city birds the Dutch Birdlife has been with 10 years experience here!
The speakers are:
. Ken Yeang – Architect (Malaysia)
. Patricia Zurita – Director of BirdLife International (UK)
. Maike van Stiphout – DS landscape architects & Academy of Architecture (NL)
. Ruud Foppen – Extraordinary professor Integrated Conservation Biology (NL)
. Redmond O’Hanlon – Author and adventurer (UK)