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 MVRDV, would 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.
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.
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.
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.