Author Archives: Mathias Lehner

Amsterdam Municipality sets improving biodiversity as standard in building


Good news for biodiversity after the summer break! As a fore-runner Amsterdam Municipality had adopted a resolution in July 2017 that states that future building activity has to contribute to the improvement of biodiversity in the city.

In an interview with journalist and writer Kester Freriks of Dutch newspaper NRC published on September 1st 2017, municipal ecologist Anneke Blokker points out that this municipal resolution will be brought into practice for new buildings as well as renovation projects. The same goes for the construction and adaptation of public spaces.

The new Dutch term ‘natuurinclusief bouwen’  (nature inclusive building) is also promoted by nextcity.nl and has now been adopted by a municipal government, after having been part of the 2017 Dutch national Building Agenda 2050 (Bouwagenda).

Bringing together men and mussel – and cleaning a Dutch canal

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Within a design course at the Academy of Architecture Amsterdam landscape architecture student Charlotte van der Woude recently proposed the refurbishment of an abandoned space next to a Utrecht water tower. The design comprises of interconnected circular water basins and seating areas that enable a better expercience of the monumental architecture of the tower while at the same serving as a meeting point along the shores of the neighbouring canal. The exciting part though are the inhabitants of the water basins: among some plants there is a special species of mussel capable of cleaning the waters of the canal. An inspiring biodiverse design that improves public space and at the same time the water quality in the city.

Save the Date: Lectures on Biodiversity in the City – September 12th, Amsterdam


Lectures on Biodiversity in the City

René van der Velde, Landscape Architect, Associate Professor TU Delft and Mathias Lehner, Architect, Research Director nextcity.nl will lecture on Biodiversity.

Save the date!
September 12th, 2017. 19:00 hrs; Academy of Architecture Amsterdam, Balkenzaal

Want to sign up for this free event? Send an email to mathias(at)legu(dot)nl

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.

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.

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.