Author Archives: Mathias Lehner

Hidden treasures for a sustainable city – Biotope City Vienna

(c) image: Bauplatz 3 (ÖSW/Rüdiger Lainer + Partner) Visualisierung: Schreiner, Kastler

Praised by the advisory board of IBA_Wien because of “the consistent approach of a multi-layered implementation of contributions to climate adaptation in new neighborhoods” and the “scientific support for neighborhood development in connection with climate-relevant contributions” the new Biotope City Wienerberg urban quarter is an interesting and very recent urban development to study in more detail.

Biotope City Wienerberg will be presented as part of IBA_Wien in 2022 on an international level as an innovative model example for future solutions in connection with adaptation to climate change in urban areas. The project contains many qualities that are not immediately visible upon completion at the end of 2020. But already now, IBA Vienna has published the brochure “Hidden Treasures“, which describes the hidden treasures of this forward-looking district.

Published by: IBA_Wien 2022 – Neues soziales Wohnen
Content and editors: Knollconsult Umweltplanung ZT GmbH Prof. Dipl.-Ing.in Dr. Helga Fassbinder Institut für Landschaftsplanung, BOKU Wien Articles by: Stiftung Biotope City Green4Cities GmbH, DI Thomas Romm, forschen planen bauen, ZT Lehner Real Consulting GmbH, Stadtteilarbeit Caritas der Erzdiözese Wien
Graphics and layout: Knoll Kommunikation GmbH

Housing quarters rich in nature – learning from experiences

Cover brochue (c) KAN

Building with nature requires a different way of working from developers, construction parties and housing corporations. This include new knowledge, a different perspective and a different role in the process. The study ‘Learning from natural residential areas from the past’ has come up with concrete tools for the development process, design, implementation, management and communication. These are now briefly summarized in the digital brochure which can be downloaded for free at KAN (Climate Adaptive Network Netherlands).

Green as Building Material Conference

On May 26-27 2021 the ‘Green as Building Material conference on ecological and nature inclusive design of the climate resilient city ist organized by Delft University of Technology.

The aim of the conference is to investigate and discuss the value of implementation of Nature in the built environment. Nature offers a range of specific ecosystem services. Two examples of such services are provided by vegetation in form of mitigation of heat stress in cities through provision of shadow and evaporation of water, and retention of water during intense rain showers reducing risk of flooding. Ecosystem services can play an important role in designing current and future climate-proof cities. In addition to aforementioned city cooling and water retention, many more useful ecosystem services can be provided by Nature. Further examples are cleaning of air, water and soil, and strengthening of biodiversity in the urban environment. Nature-inclusive cities are therefore healthier, more attractive, and thus overall more liveable.

On May 27 Mathias will speak about his research and findings within his vision of the ‘Next City’ as a biodiverse and nature-inclusive city of the future. The lecture is part of the session on design consequences of integral nature-inclusvie building.

Manifesto: Right upon Green Environment

Right on time for lobbying towards the municipal elections in the beginning of 2022 the Dutch nature and garden associations presented a Manifesto on the Right Upon a Green Environment at the end of March 2021 which stresses the benefits of a green environment and implicitly nature-inclusive cities.

The Manifesto is based upon recent research on the European Green Captials published in 2017: Well established and maintained green areas have a key role on reaching the high quality of life […] Green Capitals are leading cities (chronologically, Stockholm, Hamburg, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Nantes, Copenhagen, Bristol, Ljubljana, Essen and Nijmegen) that provide an excellent access to the public green areas . […] As a result of abundant provision and proper distribution, almost all citizens in most of the Green Capitals live within a distance of 300 meters to a green area.

This manifesto is even more urgent today as the one-year-anniversary of covid-19 in the Netherlands has shown a significant increase of burn-out among employees (research by CNV union) that even worries national health insurances (article by Zilveren Kruis).

The manifesto was initated by AVVN , Natuurlijk tuinieren, KMTP/Groei&Bloei, KNNV, NL Greenlabel, Stichting Steenbreek, Velt and Vogelbescherming Nederland.

Metropole Ecology Course

In spring 2021 the Master on Earth Sciences Future Planet Ecosystem Science at the University of Amsterdam and its course ‘Metropole Ecology’ held by Prof. Judy Shamoun-Baranes, Dre Verena Seufert (VU).
An increasing part of Earth’s terrestrial surface is taken up by urban and peri-urban land use, forming large agglomerates known as metropoles. These intensively-used areas are dynamic ecosystems with distinct properties, hosting particular species and communities, but also creating nuisances e.g. through invasive species or human-wildlife conflicts. At the same time, metropolitan ecosystems are pivotal in supporting human well-being, as over half of the global human population lives in cities, facing challenges related to e.g. air quality, heat, storm water, and space for leisure. Urban ecosystems can provide services to address some of these challenges. In this course we use an interdisciplinary approach to understand specific challenges and opportunities of an urbanizing world for biodiversity, ecosystem functioning, and people. Specifically, we will learn about biodiversity, human-wildlife interactions, urbanization, human well-being, and the role of ecosystems and their services in addressing these challenges”

On Monday April 12, Mathias will speak on Nature inclusive building: Dive into the Anthropocene and find out how the rapid growth of metropoles is not only a threat but also an opportunity to bundle forces and design a new generation of cities based upon the hypothesis of the Next City that provides Quality of Life – for all Species.

How to combat climate change & its impact as architects?

The Royal Institute of Dutch Architects BNA is offering the Course on Circular Designing and Building, including a session on Designing Nature-inclusive and Climate-adaptive. This session on April 13 2021 addresses biodiversity, quality of life for plants and animals, building with green as well as dealing with the influence of heats, droughts and heavy rain. 

Next to Mathias explaining on how to contribute to UN SDG 13 “Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts” and how to think in systems and processes from a spatial point the co-speaker in this session will be Robbert Snep (WUR).

Urbanisation? Landscapisation!

In the coming 20-30 years a million new dwellings will be built in the Netherlands because people want to live in the urban regions. Densifying existing cities is the best strategy for this task for many reasons, but because of its complexity again and again the idea pops up to build ‘just a little bit’ in the adjacent landscape. Not only because of its irreversibility this is only a shallow win, while at the same time climate change, health and sustainable mobility would require the opposite strategy: bring nature and landscape into the cites, even if it is ‘just a little bit’. As tiny acupuncture or large scale intervention this process of ‘Landscapisation’ is one of the smartest and nature-inclusive urban strategies contributing to improve quality of life in cities – for all species.

Vienna, for its traditionally hiqh quality of life (rated nr. 1 by Mercer), and hit by urban heats each summer, is doing some of these ‘little bits’. “Although sunshine and beach weather are a source of joy for most people in Vienna, a long run of very hot days (with temperatures exceeding 30°C) prevents many from getting a good night’s sleep. Children, elderly people and the chronically ill, in particular, suffer under these very high temperatures. The City of Vienna is providing relief with its climate-adapted streets initiative, one of which is Zieglergasse in the 7th municipal district. “

“The ‘Zieglergasse cool mile’ project, completed in 2020, is a timely countermeasure. The initiative has created a new shared space with ample seating, while 24 trees provide shade. Public water points provide refreshment for people and animals, and cooling arches effectively lower the temperature by several degrees in certain sections. Traffic-calming measures were incorporated, with extra-wide pavements and 150 parking spaces for bikes. Areas of light-coloured paving allow rainwater to trickle away more slowly, which helps to improve the micro climate.”

Read more here. Image by Zoom VP.

[L] GreenCity Landscape Laboratory

Looking for the balance between green thinking and economic thinking the Groenstad Landscape Laboratory is an afternoon full of inspiration about the balance between nature and (urban) development as part of the [L] Dutch Landscape Triennal.
The online programme includes key notes, master classes and 1-to-1 meetings addressing the question “How can the quality of nature and water become the supporting principle for urban development?”.

Date: April 21 from 13:45 – 18:00 hours (Dutch spoken).
Programme and registering via the Dutch Landscape Triennial website.

Trees, Urban Ecosystem Services and the ‘Internet of Nature’

In the 2020 virtual tour on her city’s Arboreal Wonders Amsterdam based researcher Nadina Galle lines up a variety of beneficial ecosystem services of city trees as key ingredients for a biodiverse city.

Already when planted the service expected by the elm trees in Amsterdam was to strengthen the canal quay sides with their vertical roots. Today there are 400.000 trees along streets and canals, and more than one million trees in the entire city offering many services. Software like iTree helps quantify these value of trees. Next to cooling and a pleasant soundscape these values include the increase of property value, and safety by lowering traffic speed and decreasing crime. In addition, trees help to buffer storm waters, store carbon dioxide and improve health by lowering stress and blood pressure, says Galle.

The Amsterdam Urban Nature Map (also available for Breda) shows all the green and blue public spaces, and how to better use urban nature. More information on trees and their benefits can be seen on the Interactive Amsterdam Tree Map, and MIT’s Treepedia. Or use an identification app such as PlantSnap, iNaturalist or PictureThis. Speaking with Nadine get one and have ‘a botanist in your pocket!’

© Still by Nadina Galle, video by Christiaan Kanis

The Nature of Cities Festival 22-26 February 2021

“The 2021 TNOC Festival pushes boundaries to radically imagine our cities for the future. Join a diverse international community of urban thinkers to re-imagine our cities today, to build the cities of tomorrow.

This virtual festival spans 5 days with programming across all regional time zones and provided in multiple languages. TNOC Festival “offers the ability to truly connect local place and ideas on a global scale for a much broader perspective and participation than any one physical meeting in any one city could ever have achieved.

Look at the program and register (100 USD for Global North).