Monday, May 20, 2019

Horticulture as catalyst for green cities

What does the green city of the future look like? It’s an upcoming theme in cities worldwide, says Dutch landscape architect Niek Roozen: “The Green City is a concept which is coming up everywhere, whether we’re discussing the green structure of new districts in Shenyang, the upcoming Horti Expo in Beijing or the Floriade 2022 which will be hosted in Almere. It’s clear that countries are investing more energy in making their cities greener.”
As a landscape architect, Niek is involved with horticultural projects all over the world. But China particularly appeals to him. Besides his office in Weesp (NL), his firm can also be found in Shenyang (CH). “In the Netherlands, we often think Chinese cities are only filled with large concrete flats and buildings. However, when you take a closer look you’ll see beautiful cities which invested heavilly in their green structure.” Niek is currently working on the project ‘Colourful Beijing’ of the local Beijing government. This project aims to make the city more livable and colourful at all times of the year through horticultural projects. Examples are adding evergreen conifers or shrubs with berries and early blooming plants.”
Niek’s Green City concept resonates. He’s been involved with over a dozen Floriades, Horti Expo’s and World Expo’s, from Vietnam and Qatar to the Netherlands and China. The Ministry of Agriculture in the Netherlands invited him to design the Dutch entry for the Beijing Horti Expo, which will open in April. “Green Cities will also be an important theme here. In the Dutch garden we aim to show the diversity of the Dutch horticultural sector. On the one hand we’re showing the diversity of plants and making cities more livable and colourful. On the other hand we are showcasing themes such as sponge cities and sustainable food security.
As such, Niek is creating an inspiring Green City-setting at this years’ Horti Expo. The Dutch garden will symbolize a city, with steel constructions as the skyline, combined with gardens and trees. Miniature pavilions will offer room for organisations working on greening cities and sustainable food to showcase themselves. The Ministry of Agriculture, Wageningen University and the Floriade 2022 will all be hosting a pavilion as well. Also, there will be activities to translate the concept of green cities to children. Two Holland-pavilions will be manned by students of the Aeres University of Applied Sciences, who will also carry out research in the area of Beijing.
Of course, also the Dutch partiality to biodiversity will be showcased in the different gardens. Flowers which appeal to butterflies or bees, but also plants you often find in your own kitchen at home. The borders surrounding will be like a colourful bouquet according to Niek: “We’ve planted over 10.000 tulips here, which will be in full bloom during the opening in April. To ensure the garden remains colourful we will plant additional flowers twice, adding for instance alliums or dahlias.”

Tuesday, April 2, 2019


SubZero is a landmark building on the Floriade terrain where businesses, students and research institutions develop crossover innovations around the themes of nutrition, health and wellbeing.

Flevoland is the largest polder in the Netherlands where people live and work on an average of five meters below sea level. The pavilion portrays this in a unique way. A five-meter thick layer of this fertile ground is lifted up to the sea level, hence the name SubZero.

The space underneath this earth layer is enclosed by a reflective fa├žade creating the illusion that the mass floats effortlessly above the ground. Once per day at high tide, a cloud of water vapor up to the sea level line is generated to water the plants on the plot and elevated rooftop. In so doing, a link is made to the sea and related themes like climate change, the subsiding earth and increasing salt content of the polder. 

During the Floriade in 2022, the Innovation Workshop will function as the Flevoland Pavilion. Here visitors can see and experience the innovations that have been developed in the period leading up to the Floriade.