Category Archives: Uncategorized

Architecture school boasts a MOER: multi objectives environmental roof

Brand new Greenwich University received a prize for its BREEAM+ school complex thanks to the employees of the department of landscape architecture. They commissioned no less than 14 roof gardens on the building and composed a series of “green experiences”. The upper gardens are harsh fields, where in extreme conditions solar panels share space with wild plants. Modern planted borders align the outdoor classroom, students and visitors can harvest “quince”, lettuce and more in the edible gardens. The pool further up has immediately been occupied by a couple of ducks. And a fox climbs the safety stairs at night to stray around on the roof meadows.
“We even have our own honey, but it’s already sold out”, landscape architect Benz Kotzen says.
This project greatly proves that biodiversity in the city can strive to unprecedented heights with great commissions and stewardship. The gardens are taken care of by the staff themselves.
Client:University of Greeenwich
Architect: Heneghan Peng architects
Landscape architect: Benz Kotzen, Robert Holde
Year: 2014
Size roofs: 0,45 hectares

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).

“Animal Aided Design (AAD)”

In order to protect animal species or to establish new ones in cities, scientists Dr. Thomas E. Hauck (University of Kassel) and Prof. Wolfgang W. Weisser from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have developed the concept “Animal-Aided Design (AAD)”. It aims to integrate the needs of animals into urban planning. Valuable niches can be created for birds, reptiles or mammals, and the quality of life of city dwellers will increase.

In their research project, they examine how urban requirements and the needs of animals can be combined. They wrote an interesting brochure on it.

At the international scientific Workshop „Designing Urban Animal Diversity“ on 28 and 29 September at the the Technical University of Munich experts who have been working on design and planning for biodiversity in the urban realm are invited to present and compare different methods of integrating animals into urban developments. Nextcity.nl is taking part in the workshop.

For more information on AAD look at: https://www.tum.de/die-tum/aktuelles/pressemitteilungen/detail/article/32308/

Bringing together men and mussel – and cleaning a Dutch canal

160920-charlotte-van-der-woude-mussels-cleaning-water

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.

Making Urban Nature


Making Urban Nature is a book of examples about nature-inclusive designing of outdoor spaces in European cities. From different angles, this publication addresses the theory of ecology and biodiversity, animals in the city, biotopes in the city and the management of urban nature. It gives ten recommendations for nature-inclusive design, in short:
1. design a process
2. be strategic
3. design inclusively and integrally
4. make complex and diverse designs
5. design points, surfaces and lines into a coherent system
6. design with nature – not against nature
7. let nature and culture inspire you
8. design the management
9. take a stand in the discussions about nature development
10. hang on

I discovered throught this book interesting work of Edouard Francois in Paris. Get inspired to build for biodiversity this summer: Put this guide in your suitcase and visite some fine examples in our European cities.

Parking becomes Park

1700321 OKRA_ApeldoornCatherinaAmaliapark_06-643x473

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.