Monday, July 30, 2012

After 'Floriade 2012', A Sustainable City Proposed

The Netherlands has a long and storied history with horticulture, and is home to the largest horticultural exhibition in the world, the Floriade World Horticultural Expo. But even as this year’s expo is in full swing in Venlo, other Dutch cities are putting in their bid to host the next expo (which is held once every ten years). One such proposal for the Floriade 2022 , from the city of Almere, isn’t a temporary exhibit site, but rather, a permanent, sustainable city.

The Cité Idéale, designed by the firm of  MVRDVwould serve as an ecologically oriented extension of Almere’s city center. The exhibition site is designed to be uber-green — 300 percent greener, in fact, than current exhibition standards. Which seems appropriate, considering the expo’s focus on the natural world.

Almere Floriade 1
                                   Image via MVRDV / ArchDaily

Drawing on research from the radical DIY urbanism plan for Almere Oosterwold and the Almere 2030 master plan, the Cité Idéale (which comes to us via ArchDaily) would function, first and foremost, as the venue for Almere Floriade, a tapestry of gardens on a 45 hectare square peninsula. Each of the blocks here will be devoted to different plants arranged in a “plant library” (perhaps even in alphabetical order), with dedicated spaces for exhibition pavilions, homes, offices and even a university. This university building will be organized as a stacked botanical garden/vertical eco-system offering each classroom a different microclimate in which to grow certain plants — not unlike a terrace farming scheme, but  with a fraction of the physical footprint.

The design for the exhibition center foregrounds plants in imaginative ways. Visitors to this once-in-a-decade, global horticultural showcase will have the opportunity to stay in a hotel twining with jasmine, swim in a lily pond and dine in a rose garden. When the expo concludes, the Cité Idéale will offer homes situated in orchards, offices with interiors oriented around plants (perhaps even live trees?) and parks teeming with bamboo.

Almere Floriade 2
                       Image via MVRDV / ArchDaily

Included in the plans is a waterfront development along a site opposite the city center offering amenities to the vibrant new urban neighborhood that will be created after the tourists depart and the exhibition’s temporary structures are disassembled. Another significant feature that will remain: the exhibition’s giant plant library.

Plans for the expo and city center include a panorama tower, green home exhibition areas, a hotel, a university, a conference center, various expo pavilions, a smart green house, an assisted care home, and a children’s expo area, as well as a marina, forest, open air theater, campground and other facilities. After the expo, the area will also produce food and energy via renewable sources.

Almere Floriade peninsula
                       Image via MVRDV / ArchDaily

The Dutch design firm of  MVRDV is no stranger to green exhibitions, as it was the force behind the Expo 2000 Netherlands pavilion, which made use of wind power, among other sustainable strategies.
Almere — along with the Amsterdam, Groningen and the Boscoop region — is currently one of four areas in the running to host the 2022 Floriade World Horticultural Expo. The exhibition this year attracted the participation of eleven countries from around the world.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Entries for Floriade 2022 have been submitted by OMA and MVRDV

Floriade is the World Horticultural Exposition that takes place every ten years, with the next to be held in 2022. The event was set up in 1960 and attracts an average of 2 million visitors each time from around the world. For the next expo there are 4 different cities from the Netherlands who are competing to host the next Floriade.

The competition is already underway and so far there have been two submissions from OMA who represent Holland Central, and MVRDV representing Almere. The winning bid will be revealed by The Nederlandse Tuinbouwraad (NTR) at the end of the current Floriade 2012 in Venlo, in October.

As part of a team including the province of South Holland, eight local municipalities, and ARCADIS, OMA has designed a 60hectare masterplan proposal with a site in the middle of the Randstad, in Zoetermeer, with 5 million inhabitants in a 50km radius. OMA has designed a circular plan that connects a variety ofexisting conditions on the site, all presently related to horticulture: high-tech green houses, a future agro-innovation campus, an Olympic-grade leisure park and traditional Dutch landscape near the source of the river Rotte, which visitors can explore by bike or by boat.

The design focuses the fair’s activities into five concentrated zones covering essential aspects of modern horticulture: technology, innovation, the global market, leisure, and culture. The park includes a 2,500-seat open-air theatre, a Land Art zone, global village, and a cable-car connection spanning across the ring.

The MVRDV plan for Almere is not a temporary expo site but a lasting green Cité Idéale as an extension to the existing city centre. The ambition is to create a 300% greener exhibition than currently standard, both literally green and sustainable: each program on the site will be combined with plants which will create programmatic surprises, innovation and ecology. Almere Floriade will be a grid of gardens on a 45ha square shaped peninsula. Each block will be devoted to different plants, a plant library with perhaps an alphabetical order.

At the same time the site will be with a vast program such as a university, hotel, marina, offices and homes more urban than any other Floriade has been before. Winy Maas discusses the plan:” City that is literally green as well as ecological. A city that produces food and energy, cleans its own water, recycles waste and holds a great biodiversity. A city which might even become autarkic”.

Monday, July 16, 2012

'Floriade 2012' ideas apply on Martha's Vineyard

Photo by Anthony Higgins
Strawberries in dozens of mouth-watering varieties were displayed in raised beds in the House of Taste pavilion at Floriade 2012.
As a tourist, I have yet to develop the capacity to "speed-bomb" the sights, my visual cortex and processing centers functioning out of sync. So it was with the spectacle of Floriade 2012, the world horticultural expo in Venlo, Netherlands, which runs through October 7. There was a great deal to see, yet I was without the luxury of time. If you go, plan to spend the night in the area and return the next day. Otherwise it is impossible to do justice to the tremendous amount and variety that is offered at Floriade 2012.
We took the train from Santpoort-Zuid diagonally across the Netherlands to reach Venlo on the southwestern German border, passing through such cities as Utrecht and Einhoven. Train service provided by the Dutch Railways is very frequent and efficient. Residents have access to numerous sorts of deals that make using the rail system attractive. We purchased one-day, steeply discounted tickets at a Blokker chain store.
Crossing the Netherlands in this fashion, an ongoing sight was the extensive allotment gardens arranged beside the tracks. Major shipping canals, industrial development, residential housing, farmland, and extensive glasshouse arrays flashed by.
The press packet emphasizes that the area around Venlo ranks as one of the major concentrations of horticulture in the Netherlands. "If the neighboring region of Niederrhein [Germany] is also included, then the Floriade park is situated in one of the largest contiguous horticultural areas of West-Europe." This is Big Business for the Netherlands, and makes the Floriade an important showcase-adjunct to it.
A short bus loop brought us from the train station to the Floriade venue. The route was lined with the packing and distribution centers of the agricultural economy of the Venlo area. We walked across an imaginative bridge into the Innovatoren plaza. This arresting high-rise and the surrounding venue are to be repurposed into a sustainable business park in leafy, green surroundings at the conclusion of Floriade.
Choosing where to start was bewildering, so instead we went into a café, got coffee, and studied the map. It showed that five major themes had been chosen to demonstrate how horticulture can enhance the quality of life — Environment, Education and Innovation, Relax and Heal, Green Engine, and finally, World Show Stage. It was so hard to decide, knowing the choice would eliminate something magical!
The spacious central boulevard bisecting the expo is lined with hedged idea gardens that have been produced or sponsored by businesses and design firms. Many interesting specimen trees, products of the Dutch nursery industry, were used inside and between the idea gardens. Of special appeal were the many unusual beech cultivars and trees of Asian origin, such as Pterocarpus, which we do not normally see here.
We were lured into the World Show Stage with its international pavilion gardens: many were elaborate and striking, such as the traditional Chinese garden, others modest yet full of interest, such as the Bulgarian pavilion with its emphasis on scent and attar of roses. I was taken with the ultra-modern Belgian pavilion with its demonstration of dune gardening, what we would call native planting here.
We stopped for buttery fresh herring with chopped onions along the way to Education and Innovation. The extensive House of Taste (Huis van de Smaak) yielded more food in the form of abundant supplies of greenhouse fruits and veggies for the sampling. It also contained maquettes demonstrating the functioning of geothermal, solar, wind, and biofuels in reducing the carbon footprint of Dutch growing. Hydroponics play a role in this mode of production, as well. An outdoor planting of dozens of strawberry varieties in full fruit demonstrated the characteristic differences in that important crop.
A walk through the bamboo garden outside the fabulous Tropical Treasures glasshouse was an interesting guide to variation and utilization of bamboo varieties. The glasshouse itself showcased more exotic orchids, bromeliads, and what are known as "tropicals" in the trade. We made our way to the innovation-in-horticulture pavilion of the Dutch government, meant to symbolize a giant bean seed (sprouting ideas: for city gardening, schoolyard learning, and ingenious growing/production).
For more glimpses of the astonishing Floriade spectacle, the following link has many images and text that were assembled earlier in the spring, closer to the opening date, featuring, not surprisingly, glorious Dutch bulbs —
By this time it was time to return to North Holland. We made our way back to the entrance plaza enumerating to each other all the exhibits we had been unable to take in. Sigh.
Back in the home garden
It is time plan for fall now. This may require ordering seeds by mail as most local supplies are now low. Plan to sow peas (regular and mange-tout), carrots, beets, radicchio, and greens such as kale, spinach, lettuce and arugula. Previously used areas of gardens may be fertilized, top-dressed with compost, even sown with a fast-growing cover crop such as buckwheat, to add something back into the soil before producing the garden's next phase.
Gardeners are all looking for maximum storage life for crops such as squash, onions and garlic. Proper curing is critical. After harvest, cut a stem of garlic to gauge whether it has been cured: if there is green in it, leave the pulled plants to cure a while longer. When the stems are fully whitish (no green) cut off the tops, leaving about two inches for hardneck, and trim roots neatly. Leave the rows where onions and garlic were planted free of allium crops for the next couple of years.
Polly Hill Arboretum
Check for July events.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

'Floriade 2012' Is Bestseller!

609,512 visitors in House of Taste during first half of Floriade
World Horticultural Expo 1,174,623 tickets sold so far

Exactly in the middle of the Floriade 2012 the organisation mentioned that 1,174,623 tickets have been sold already. Ad Berends mentioned on twitter that during the first half of the Floriade 609,512 visitors visited the House of Taste.

Friday 6, July at 3 pm. exactly in the middle of the Floriade, a ticket was bought by the family Steines from the German town of Hürth. The family was taken by surprise by the organisation of the Floriade 2012 with a cheque for 500 Euro for a stay in one of the parks of Center Parcs, partner of the Floriade. The Floriade is very proud, that now exactly at the middle of the period of opening this number of tickets sold has already been reached, whilst only a few days into high season.

Financial director Bert Stek with a delegation of the Floriade personnel.

Paul Beck, general director Floriade 2012:
“This is a more than excellent result which we, with a very good feeling and full of confidence, enter the summer period. The conclusion is that we, despite the bad weather at the beginning of the season, have scored very well. The Floriade is a very popular event both in the Netherlands and abroad. We notice this because of all the positive publicity and the eagerness of tour operators to include the Floriade in their travel programs, even more than we expected. The months of July and August are very important to us. Whilst during the first three months many group trips were directed towards the Floriade now the individual visitors must come. The weather in the next three months must really cooperate with us." At the same time we can mention that the appreciation figures for the Floriade of the visitors remain high. The personnel are being rated a 9, the general visit 8.5.

Nico Koomen, chairman Dutch Horticultural Council:
"The Dutch Horticultural Council sees in Venlo a world expo in style, which from start to finish fascinates the visitor, who often say they want to come back a second and sometimes even a third time. That is in the first place what it is all about. The message of the agricultural value to the quality of life is extremely well put over and the position of the Dutch horticulture in the international playing field is put over in a high quality perception. The quality and the radiation of the Floriade in Venlo is a stepping stone for four candidates, each of whom supplied a bid competing for the Floriade 2022. At the close of the Floriade in Venlo on 7 October it will be known where the next Floriade will be organised."

The Floriade is the official World Horticultural Expo in Venlo. On April 4th the Dutch  Queen Beatrix opened the Floriade, which will remain open till 7 October.

For more information about the program visit