Author Archives: Mathias Lehner

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


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)

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

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

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.

What is Petra Blaisse reading when it comes to biodiversity?

Having spoken to Petra Blaisse of Inside Outside recently on her current and recent projects around the world Petra gave NextCity an exclusive insight into her literature list on biodiversity in the city. Get inspired and join the NextCity book club!

La Vie des Fourmis, Maurice Maeterlinck
A Sting in the Tale, Dave Goulson
Taxidermy for Language – Animals, Tine Melzer
The Earth Moved, Amy Stewart
La Vie des Abeilles, Maurice Maeterlinck
The Plausibility of Life, Marc W. Kirschner + John C. Gerhart
Planten die elkaars gezelschap zoeken, Helen Philbrick + Richard B. Gregg
(‘Plants that are looking for each others’ company’)
What good are bugs?, Gilbert Waldbauer

Excellent biodiverse designs by students


The final presentation for Mathias’ first year students at the Academy of Architecture took place on October 26th, 2016. The students of architecture, landscape architectur and urban planning attending the design class ‘Feel Good’ at the Academy brought in a couple of fresh ideas for more biodiversity and Quality of Life in the City.

The work by student Bart Donkers proposes a resting place for stressed urban nomads next to one of the ferry stops zig-zagging through the Amsterdam waters of the IJ in the upcoming urban North of the city. A huge diversity of singing birds helps the busy urban travellers to relax all-year round and protected by the winds of the open water.

Interview with Petra Blaisse of Inside Outside

161107-ml-en-pb-interview-emila-actie-c-mvsLast week Mathias interviewed renown landscape designer Petra Blaisse of Inside Outside as next part of the interview series on ‘Building for Biodiversity in the City’ that will be available as e-learning to students on European schools for landscape architecture. Petra is not only a great designer but also a fun interview partner; she had brought great proejcts in a.o. Madrid, Quatar and Almere, and a basket full of autum leaves – with a lot of biodiversity inside as we could find out at closer inspection!