Author Archives: Maike van Stiphout

wild animals are welcome in Maastricht



This years DESIGN AWARD “Made for Maastricht” is dedicated to new species that search and find their place in the city. In Amsterdam, for example spoonbills and seals have been spotted; soon we can expect otters and raccoons in our cities. The competition focuses on the urban environment of Maastricht: the urban environment as a new habitat.

The assignment
Design a house for a living species in the city of Maastricht. This house should be practical and should esthetically fit into the urban environment and fullfill the demands of the designated animal. The design must lead to a more pleasant environment for humans and animals.

The DESIGN AWARD Made for Maastricht is an annual competition organized by Designday collaboration MAFAD (Maastricht Academy Fine Arts and Design). The price, 5000 euro, is provided by the City of Maastricht and fits into the bigger masterplan ‘Made in Maastricht’, to stimulate the creative manufacturing industry in the city.

The focus of the DESIGN AWARD Made for Maastricht is the (re) appreciation for craftsmanship. Therefor the submitted designs should be carried out by the designer himself. The concept of craftsmanship in this context covers the area of ​​both the old and the new digital technologies.

Read more about design day AWARD

De Binckhorst a ‘nature reserve’?



With great interest the Dutch ‘Party for The Animals‘ (Partij voor de Dieren) of the City Council of The Hague has been following the developments on building a nature-inclusive city. For a motion on building nature-inclusive the additional information and arguments where found on NextCity. The good news is that this motion is adopted by a large majority of the Hague City Council. This means that the councilor will investigate whether it is possible to put nature-inclusive development on the list of requirements of the municipal exploitation. The councilor will talk with social housing associations and examine whether it is legally possible to include this way of developing in the building
regulations of The Hague.

Based on the information about the Cruquius Area found on NextCity, the Party for The Animals added the request if the councilor may consider whether the Binckhorst area can be used as a pilot project.

Christine Teunissen: “making the city greener and more attractive to animals can be achieved by taking simple and low-cost steps, such as the use of ‘building nature inclusive. By transforming De Binckhorst in an urban ‘nature reserve’, by adapting plants to species, by integrating nesting boxes for birds and bats in the facades, we can create space for nature in the urban world. The Party for The Animals is very pleased that the alderman will start an investigation on this”.

newsitem in Dutch
motion in Dutch

“Baden gehen”



Biodiverisity grows thanks to the new “city branding”

Berlin has launched the project Flussbad, offering his inhabitants 750m of Spree canal as a swimming pool. For at least half a million residents of the city this will be their closed natural bathing water.

The 1.6 km stretch of the Spree Canal that will be re-naturalized into a biotope landscape and reed basin to purify the running water in a natural way while the 640-meter uppermost section of the river will be re-naturalized to become a wildlife habitat. The biodiversity in the city will increase.

The project will contribute towards raising public awareness on the need to ensure water quality in the city’s river. Increased public awareness will in turn inform and pressure decision-makers on the steps required to ensure all rivers are maintained in healthy conditions for recreational use and ecosystem health. Biodiversity will thrive from this.

Interesting asset is that the Flussbad project increases tourism and in particular ensures an inflow of young people who are vital tot the city’s culturural and educational landscape and for many branches of the economy.

[source: Arcadis]

Das Kind braucht seines Gleiches


Professor Dr. Ulrich Gebhard, teaching Methods of Natural Sciences on the University of Hamburg was one of the speakers at the symposium for biodiversity at the TU Braunsweig last week. He explained in a very convincing way our relation with nature citing some important researchers.

We need the contact with the nature when we are young, the psychoanalist Alexander Mitscherlich said– das Kind braucht seines Gleiches. Children do need contact with other living creatures, to build up a relation with nature. Ulrich Gebhard explained this on the hand of the bean experiment at school: let a bean grow into a plant in the class and then ask the children to cut a bone in half, they will refuse first, thinking it hurts the bean. We all have this inexplicable projection of caring for other living creatures. And we all need to “cut a bean” to develop a relation with nature.

Rachel and Stephen Kaplan, professors of psychology at the Univeristy of Michingan, have found that too much focused attention on anything can lead to mental fatique and such fatigue’s remedy is found in exposure to nature. Walking in nature brings us in a state of “nicht anstrengende aufmerksahmkeit” – a relaxed form of awareness which destresses.

Alexander Mitscherlich claims that nature gives us two basics for human wellbeing, continuity and discovery. Feeling part of nature brings us the feeling of continuity, of being part of a whole, and that gives us confidence; Secondly nature makes us curious and thus generates discoveries, which helps us further.

This tastes for more!

Urban hives at the Milano Design week




( please do not kill bees, wasps and bumble bees)


Albert Einstein said: “if bees disappeared, humans would have three years of life left”.

In Europe  the number of Urban hives is growing. “In fact it appears that despite urban pollution, urban bees are more productive”, citating Claudia Zanfi who organises the Hurban Hives at the Milano Design Week in April.

Bees take care for the pollination, enabling 70% of the plants on earth to produce fruits for us. During the Design Week new urban hives will be made by local crafsmen in specific public gardens and spaces in the center in Milano.  The goal of the creators is valorisation, promotion and awareness-raising of eco-friendly practices in the urban context. The installation focusses on the safequard of domesticated bees. Beside the domesticated bees, all sorts of wild bees and bumble bees are also part of the crew.  I hope they implement this also in their project.

For more information look at





On March 11th a nice group landed at the diner table in Graaf Florisstraat in Rotterdam, after a tour around the Essenburg Park – nature embracing the district.

The interest in nature, specifically in the city, connects us this evening. The discussion therefore starts with the question: what is urban nature exactly? That’s easy: We determine where the plants and animals are given a chance and where not. We live in the Anthropocene.

We like to live in harmony with all living creatures. That’s a gut feeling from everyone on the table. How to get this done as the “wipkip” is the nature reference of the city child. In Essenburg Park shrubs are removed, dogs allowed, children released. In the setting of the germ primeval nature they experience what nature is like. As an intensive farming on the road has put a cuddling cow, so Rotterdam has Essenburg Park. For real nature head out of town.

Meanwhile, there is a brutal nile goose on the roof of the adjacent flat wachting us. He took over the nestling box made by mankind for the peregrine. The antropocene has it’s limits too.

Main course is served with the question of who wants urban nature and who cares for it. Living things can not exist without our support. Love goes through the stomach, compassion for nature goes through fun. Dinners are organised with pancakes and local harvested birch syrup. The parody of the “Baardmannetjes” (Koefnoen) on modern “Staatsbosbeheren” topped the cake.

The dessert is accompanied with the question how to communicate the need for nature. The photographer Walter Herfst shows a paradise which turns out to be a neglected willow grove, we fall for it.

The United Nations decided that having biodiversity is a universal right? In 2020 we should all increase biodiversity and the city is the best place to reach your goals! Biodivesity in the city is decreasing less than on the countryside. So municipality and NS where are you waiting for. Get started, Switzerland has reached the goals of 2020 and we still have doubts about the usefulness and necessity of the Essenburg Park?

The diner was organised by Vereniging Deltametropool and AFFR.

Frans Lanting


I heard the rumour that the film “The new Wilderness” about wildlife in the Oostvaarders plassen will be followed by a Wilderness film made in the city of Amsterdam. That’s exciting!

Guest on the broadcast Vroege Vogels on Sundag 24th of January is Frans Lanting, renowned wildlife photographer. “It’s fascinating that we are part of this nature” he says. He wonders how we will keep on living together, as mankind takes over more and more space on the earth. Astronauts notice the same. They have seen the earth from a distance, as a vulnerable little ball with a thin shell of live.

Frans Lanting is interested in the relation of all that lives, including us. He has unveiled a new project with composer Philip Glass. Their collaboration is Life: A Journey Through Time. The genesis of the project was sparked years ago while Lanting was taking pictures of horseshoe crabs — a life form that has remained basically unchanged over hundreds of millions of years. Lanting realized that the creatures offer a window into the past, and that there exist many other examples of how time tempers the shape of life on Earth, and how the Earth is in turn changed by the life it harbours.

Unveiled in the same broadcast, that after a long and thoroughly study not mice but squirrels are the first mammals and thus our human ancestors. Sounds more elegant to me!



During the Cold war the Humboldt University in Berlin discovered that the city is a habitat on its own. Ecologists were locked up in their city. Where could they investigate the nature? In the city! What emerged from scarcity appeared to be a break through in the history. Since then nature is no longer referred to as “that what lives outside the city”. The city is a unique habitat came worth investigating. And so was born the profession of urban ecologist.

The city habitat is thriving! Surprisingly a big part of the growth of diversity takes place in our own house. The Science Appendix of the journal NRC this weekend writes about the animals, plants and mushrooms in our homes and offices. We appear to live in a global indoor biotope that can be found in buildings all over the world. As we take and have taken along unnoticed a wide range of animals while travelling around the world. Everywhere are the same toilet moth, pink mold and dust mites inside. I predict a new loot on the tree of ecologists, the indoor ecologist.
The animal and plant species that like to live with people are called anthropophyles. They love us and we start loving them noticing an increasing popularity of these largely invisible creatures. They are starring in renown newspapers and have their museum – Micropia in Amsterdam. A great museum that shows us what we can’t see with our humble eyes. If I had to wear glasses I’d choose microscope glasses to get to see that small beautiful stuff.

Designing for Biodiversity

lectureLecture “Designing for biodiversity” for Arts & Nature symposium St. Joost

On the 4th and 5th of november St. Joost Art Academy organised a symposium titled “INTERDISCIPLINAIR”. Maike van Stiphout (DS landscape architects) opened the 5th of november with the keynote lecture “Designing for Biodiversity”.

We are going to “live with life” instead of killing it, as Lidewij Edelkoort states. The spacial planning is still very antropocentric but in the near future we’re going to share our cities with the animals and plants.

Maike showed the students and teachers of St. Joost some interdisciplinary projects of her office DS; Landscape park Poelgeest, Biesbosch Station and Sharing the Shelter. She also showed work of the students and alumni of the Academy of Architecture in Amsterdam, e.g. Zoutkristallen (Marit Janse) , De Ceuvel in Amsterdam (Delva Landscape Architects and space& matters), Wadland (Bruno Doedens Academie van Bouwkunst) and Secret Operation 610 (Frank Havermans, Ronald Rietveld) to illustrate the interdisciplinairy way of working and its results.

Many young artists and designers are inspired by nature today. Therefore Maike’s message of the day  for this ‘next generation’: “take care of what inspires you – take care of nature”.