Author Archives: Maike van Stiphout

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”.

Evolving together

Bullit Center_Katie Campbell

photo by Katie Campbell

Listen to Adam Frank, professor in astrophysics at the University of Rochester and blogger of Cosmos & Cultureas het walks through the extreme green Bullitt Center in Seattle:

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This week Adam Frank was in Seatle to work together with professor Marina Alberti, who leads the Urban Ecology Research Lab.

“Dr. Alberti is a wonderfully creative researcher who likes to think in terms of cities as hybrid ecosystems. She takes the idea of hybrids from genetics. Hybrids can be a step along the way to developing new species. Seeing the city as a hybrid ecosystem means thinking about how cities depend on the natural flows of water, clean air and soil to function properly. It also means seeing how cities change those flows to create something new that didn’t exist before. For example, recent studies have shown how vacant lots create new habitats and road corridors can function as routes of seed dispersal for many plant species. Researchers also have seen some songbirds changing their behavior in urban environments as compared with natural ones.

These examples show plants and animals creating new behaviors in the environments we created for ourselves. As we come to understand that response more deeply, there’s the possibility for cities themselves to change with the goal of becoming more resilient and sustainable in the face of the Anthropocene challenges. It’s about human and natural systems evolving together.



The Academy of Architecture in Amsterdam has appointed Maike van Stiphout as the new head of the Masters programme in Landscape Architecture. Her entry lecture, held on September 4th will be published in October 2014.

 A fragment of the lecture ‘Together’:

 A noteworthy development is taking place that offers new perspectives for architects, landscape architects and urban planners. The Internet is changing the world in ways as powerful as the invention of the printing press did over 550 years ago. The invention of printing led to the spread of knowledge. 

The Internet was originally conceived to share knowledge, as was printing. Surprisingly, it has broadened to provide sharing mechanisms. The Internet appears to be the engine behind “sharing”.

For the generations that have grown up with the Internet, ‘sharing’ has become a new manner of possessing. Houses, boattrips, workspaces, ebooks, beds, knowledge, lovers and photos are mutually and cleverly shared via various apps. Sharing is becoming an accepted and very comfortable way of living. Businesses such as Airbnb and Ubertaxi earn a good profit from managing sharing goods. The effect is that a new urban generation used to sharing isn’t interested in ‘having’, and doesn’t attach status to big cars and large mowed lawns.

Sharing means caring.

What makes sharing an interesting variation on possession is that it incorporates the taking care of what is being shared. Taking care of something is in itself nothing unusual, but caring for it when it’s not yours? This demands a new attitude from the modern individual. Now that a whole generation partakes in sharing and caring, our ‘sharing and caring of global biodiversity’ may well have a better chance than before the era of the Internet.

My lecture is all about this new positioning, and the opportunities and the role that the fields of architecture, urban planning and landscape architecture can and should play in designing with nature. Now is the time to hitch a ride to a complete world built for humans, plants, animals, microorganisms and fungi.”

The reset on neighbourhood design

jaren zestig woonwijk_bestaandewoning_nl(beeld:

Friedrich Nietzsche schreef in Die fröhliche Wissenschaft (1882) wat volgens hem in grote steden ontbrak: “stille en ruime, uitgestrekte plaatsen om na te denken (..) bouwwerken en plantsoenen, die als geheel de verhevenheid van de bezinning en de afzijdigheid uitdrukken. (..)

Ik ben opgegroeid in een jaren 60 buitenwijk. Overmaat was de norm voor de vormgeving van de wijken en woningen. Overmaat heeft de toekomst. Overmaat is ruimte en geeft ruimte. De bomen in de buitenwijken groeien tot de hemel. De industriele loodsen worden hergebruikt. Fietsers hebben hun eigen traject.

Op de Academie van Bouwkunst werd het bedrijventerrein rond Sloterdijk ter hand genomen. Hoe kan dit gebied stad worden? De studenten van 8 landen waren het over 1 ding eens: de stad moet profiteren van de overmaat! De charme volgens deze generatie is een stedenbouw vol ongewisheid en het bedrijventerrein bij Sloterdijk is daar de beste stedelijke ruimte voor. Ontspan en profiteer van de natuur die er bezit van heeft genomen en van de pioniers die het koloniseren. De ruimtelijke kwaliteit blijft toch wel overeind.

Nietsche wist het al, overmaat is goed voor de geest!

Een gebouw als een boshelling

acrosgebouw fukuokaOp de site werd onlangs een artikel geplaatst over de groene sociale woningbouw van Harry Gluck. Deze Oostenrijkse architect op leeftijd bouwde in het land waar de geraniums traditioneel aan alle gevels hangen, flats met ruime terrassen waarop planten weelderig groeien. Hij deed dit als echte modernist vanuit de idealen dat elke sociale klasse evenveel recht heeft op natuur dichtbij als de rijken. Zijn gebouwen zijn nog steeds geliefd, bij bewoners en beleggers. Je moet een beetje door de kloeke modernistisch vormentaal heen kijken.

In Japan bouwde Emilio Ambass in 1994 een beroemd geworden woonblok ACROS met een waterval van groene terrassen. Dit gebouw zit nog slimmer in elkaar en is samen met een landschapsarchitect gemaakt tot een gezonde biotoop. Ten eerste wordt het regenwater opgevangen om de terrassen op weg naar beneden te irrigeren. En ten tweede is er een cruciaal verschil in eigendom van de beplanting dat zich uit in haar verschijningsvorm en duurzaamheid. Waar in Oostenrijk elk individu bijdraagt aan het groene beeld met zijn eigen terrasplanten, is in Fukuoka het groen gemeenschappelijk eigendom en in soortensamenstelling zodanig gekozen dat zich als vanzelf een biotoop van een bosrijke helling ontwikkelde. Daar is niet alleen een groen beeld geschapen maar is ook nestelgelegenheid en voeding voor dieren gemaakt.

De landschapsarchitect Tase Michio was als klein kind al nieuwsgierig naar natuur in de stad. Zijn kennisopbouw is cruciaal geweest voor het slagen van dit project. Tase heeft buiten de stad nog een flink stuk land waarop hij ondermeer paarden fokt. Op dit land leert hij zijn studenten te werken met planten en te bouwen met lokaal geoogste materialen.

ACROS is een gebouw in de boshelling geworden. Voor beleggers een leuk weetje: de Japanners trekken het meeste geld uit voor nieuwe woningen maar een woning in ACROS is zo geliefd dat het tweedehands nog veel duurder is. Hier wonen alleen de echt rijken.