“We must work towards urban ecosystems, adapted to the health of residents, and with green gardens for each group of residents.” This and many more were discussed on Thursday June 7 at the Green Cities meeting, in the new building of the University of Applied Sciences of Aeres on the Floriade. They shared some lessons for the exhibition, interspersed with a tour of the green roof of the University of Applied Sciences.
As the Floriade started the last week before the inauguration, one of the buildings on the site was already in full use. The ‘Green Long’ at Aeres University of Applied Sciences is an energy-neutral faculty building with a circular design, located just after the entrance to the horticultural exhibition. One side of the building is completely covered with solar panels, it contains insect hotels, and the accessible roof is rich in water supply and vegetation. Inside too, it is full of green walls and plants.
As students walked through the halls to class, interested people sat in another room, ready for the Green Cities meeting. Gideon Spanjar kicked off the afternoon. As a lecturer in innovation and green urban space, he is affiliated with the Aeres Hogeschool Almere and studies, among other things, climate mitigation and biodiversity.
Reviving the springboards
The weather is getting more and more extreme, and we are going to feel it in many ways. “We notice it first and foremost on our own bodies. Sufficient attention will therefore have to be given to heat stress and its impact on the weakest groups,” says Spanjar. But that wasn’t the only challenge, he said. A study by Spanjar for the municipality of Breda has already shown that if the heat increases, the number of visitors to a shopping street can quickly drop by ten percent. “So the warmer temperature also has a lot of economic consequences.”
Unfortunately, the facts of the impact on our environment were not inevitable. This is partly due to the loss of biodiversity in the Netherlands and other countries. “We have to get rid of our concrete and the petrification in the cities,” Spanjar said. “Almere, as a garden city, is a good example in this respect”. The host city of the Floriade is spatially large, with a lot of attention to green spaces and water storage between houses.
A step further is the creation of a powerful ecosystem on an urban scale. This is why Spanjar launched the Rewilding Stepping Stones project in February last year, to study how to develop temporary interventions with residual flows and native plants to allow nature to enter the city via stepping stones. A few sought-after cooling measures mentioned by Spanjar were enough trees and shady places, green walls, water intervention, and green surfaces. “Now is the time to develop and design areas that include nature.”
Then it was Dirk Voets, trainer of the remote sensing team. They map data on areas using satellite photos, drones or CBS. The surface temperature is particularly important for good nature. Team Remote Sensing helps the Steenbraak Foundation in its greening mission, among other things by mapping the greening of private gardens. “Interesting are the effects of the social minimum or low house values on the greening of the land. If this is lower, we often see a much more gray and paved garden,” Voets explained. To this end, the team makes visualization tools, among other things, to start a conversation with the citizen or the alderman.
Linda Rijnboutt-Blaas, landscape and urban planning policy advisor, was present from the municipality of Almere. The municipality recently launched a project focused on better connecting public space with public health. “We use knowledge that is already available, such as that from the Aeres University of Applied Sciences, and like to challenge young professionals to come up with ideas,” says Rijnboutt-Blaas. In addition, the municipality works in collaboration with the GGD and the Green Party identifiergreen.
The project has a duration of five years and focuses on the value of more greenery and water to the health and perception of local residents. Climatic comfort also plays a role. “The success of this research will depend on the base of support,” Rijnboutt-Blaas said, in which the municipality will engage in discussions with various residents, such as children, the elderly and young people. “At the same time, the entirety of the theme also makes it more difficult.” The project will start shortly in four sub-areas of Almere.
Each Floriade has its own interpretation
The stories are interrupted by a visit to the roof of the faculty building. This outdoor space has been furnished with seats and many plants, and offers a beautiful view of the Floriade park. In the foreground, the various horticultural visits offered by the exhibition have been finalized, with the funicular in the background from where visitors can have a bird’s eye view of the site.
The afternoon, supervised by Sytse Berends from Green Cities, ended with a presentation by landscape architect Niek Roozen on the current edition of the Floriade in Almere. Together with planting specialist Jacqueline van der Kloet and dendrologist Jaap Smit, he forms the Floriade vegetable garden. Roozen explained the layout and construction of the site, designed among others by the architect Winy Maas. Based on previous editions, in Venlo and Haarlemmermeer, among others, it became clear that each edition has its own interpretation.
“This Floriade is different from previous years, because for the first time a Floriade is entirely designed as a new city district. Trees and public greenery were thus planted in front of homes,” Roozen said. This also makes it a complex edition for the layout of the exhibition and the future district of the city of Almere. The details here are the different species of plants and trees, as well as the paths that deviate to prevent the felling of trees on the site.
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