All too often, the fence is a hard partition between two private gardens. Neighbours live completely separated from each other, and animals, which usually need a larger foraging area than one single garden, cannot pass through. This design offers an alternative that addresses both the social division and the ecological aspect. Buurjongens’ (Boys next door) Green Fence has a modular design and consists of a wooden frame with wicker. The wood and wicker are sustainably harvested from local sources. Various elements can be included in the modules: a ‘window’ to talk to the neighbours, flower and plant containers and bags, a small locker, an insect hotel, a feeding table for birds, various nesting boxes, or a trellis for climbing plants. The bottom of the fence is about 10 centimetres off the ground, so that hedgehogs and other land-based animals can walk from garden to garden.
The orchard plays a central role in the ecological neighbourhood EVA-Lanxmeer. Just as a hawthorn hedge and other vegetation, the orchard was already there before the houses were built. These formed the basis for the urban design, together with other landscape qualities: the soil structure, a levee, seep formation, the ecological foundations of the landscape, its elongated fields and old waterways, and a few characteristic farms. The green structure is inextricably linked to the water system, the basis for a biodiversity that is unprecedented in a residential neighbourhood. The residents themselves organized the management. To this end, they founded the company Terra Bella, which is contracted by the municipality. Since the district is in a water-collection area, water company Vitens also contributes to the budget. Hence, the residents can dispose of a budget the municipality and other institutions would normally spend on a district of that size. With the added benefit of creating greater social cohesion through mutual cooperation. Working in the orchard is not only a relaxing way to get to know each other; the fruit-bearing plants are also an important part of the ecosystem. Insects are necessary for the pollination. In turn, they are food for the many birds and small mammals that live in the area.
-CULEMBORG (NL) FROM 1998
-COPIJN TUIN- EN LANDSCHAPSARCHITECTEN, HYCO VERHAAGEN GMBH, IN COOPERATION WITH INHABITANTS
Around 1965, artist and ‘wild gardener’ Louis Le Roy (1924–2012) started developing so-called eco-cathedrals. The central reserve of the President Kennedylaan in Heerenveen is a strip of one and a half hectares, one kilometre long and 15 meters wide, which would normally have been planted with a monoculture of ground cover. Together with local residents, Le Roy started a process without a plan and throughout time, which still continues today. They used the debris of a nearby demolition site to build small walls and seating areas, letting nature take its course. With time, the central reserve—now called the Le Roy Garden—has grown into an abundantly varied wild garden, a true forest even. He started a similar process by himself on a field in nearby Mildam (see images). Hundreds of lorries came in to deliver clinkers, paving stones and construction debris to form the base material for his stacked structures amidst the growing nature. Le Roy saw his eco-cathedrals as a cooperation between natural and creative-human processes that would endlessly continue to develop. This freedom has also resulted in a unique ecological significance of the projects. The eco-cathedral in Mildam, where volunteers took over Le Roy’s work after his death, has now been declared an official nature reserve. Similar eco-cathedral processes were initiated in other places as well. The formula is simple: start with space and time. People and nature use free energy (so without the help of machines, only using muscle power) to work on the area, such as a public park or private land, possibly using durable, reusable material. At present, this is mostly stone, but wood and glass can be used later as well. The stones are stacked loosely, and not cemented, so that animals can use the spaces between them to build nests, and plants can grow there. The work is done without a design, without a preconceived plan of how the area is to develop.