Author Archives: Mathias Lehner

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

marlenaretter

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

170130 blog rooftop revolution

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.

Second Park Bridge worldwide, pedestrian bridge ‘Palaisbrug’ Den Bosch

Honoured with the National Dutch Steel Award 2016 and realized in May 2015 the 250m long Palaisbrug across the rail tracks in Dutch city Den Bosch proves that highly urban and infrastructural locations can contribute to biodiversity. ‘Adding 2500m2’ of park surface to the city the weather resistant steel bridge designed by Dutch architects Benthem Crouwel integrates lighting and furniture but also plants and trees – and all the species living on the latter which were chosen together with botanist Piet Oudolf. The bridge is the second park-bridge globally and features floor heating, an irrigation system and free Wifi.
Image above (c) Jannes Linders, below (c) denboschtips.com

170129 Paleisbrug-13-Den-Bosch-Tips (c) denboschtips com

The Malmö Tools: Green Space Factor and the Green Points System

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Green and blue infrastructures provide a range of services which can make cities more resilient and help us adapt to climate change. Using green and blue infrastructure is recognised as a desirable ‘win-win’ approach because it also delivers multiple social, economic and environmental benefits.

The Malmö city district of Västra Hamnen (Western Harbour) in Sweden is an example where green infrastructure planning tools have been successfully used in new developments. The planning of the Western Harbour area began already in the late 1990s.

The Green Space Factor is an innovative tool for calculating green space requirements for new development; the Green Points System is a checklist of 30 green and blue infrastructure options for developers. Download the expert paper published by the Town and Country Planning Association, April 2011. © Annika Kruuse, the TCPA, and the GRaBS Project Partners.

The DSO of the city of The Hague wrote a document with tips and tricks  to improve nature inclusif development in their town.  Amongst all they considers copying the Malmö Green Points System. The document is worthfull input for all cities in The Netherlands who consider to make their towns nature inclusif. Download the document.