In the middle of a residential neighbourhood at the edge of the city centre of Arnhem, there was a vacant piece of land. New developments had been stalled, turning it into a no man’s land. On the initiative of the department for temporary planning (DTO) and in cooperation with Buroharro, a ‘pop-up park’ appeared in three months time. Second-hand nature, in the form of cut sods of peat, was used to transform the hole in the city into the Bartokpark. In the middle of the heathland, there is a giant, climbable aardvark, a statue by Florentijn Hofman. The Aardvark was donated by Burgers’ Zoo, the zoo of Arnhem. The Bartokpark has become an iconic public space. A ‘nature reserve’ with references to the nearby national park The Hoge Veluwe. Not just attractive for the neighbourhood, but also for visitors from outside, breathing new life into this section of town.
Most city parks are built by municipal services, but they do not have to be. Through different initiatives by local residents, a continuous park area is forming along a busy railway line at the edge of the Middelland district in Rotterdam, experiencing nature being the joint characteristic of all these initiatives. In natural playground De Speeldernis (‘Playderness’), children from the city can play in nature. Not just in nature, but also with nature: they can watch frogs and insects, for example, and local schools use it as a classroom. The hilly terrain with different water features was designed at the location of a former conventional playground. Parents took the initiative to realize one of the first natural playgrounds in Netherlands together with the municipality of Rotterdam. Further on, other groups of residents discovered a narrow strip of land as spontaneous nature and opened it up step by step. Several initiatives such as nature (kitchen) garden Spoortuin (‘Rail Garden’) and neighbourhood orchard De Pluktuin (‘Picking Garden’) and Ieders Tuin (‘Everybody’s Garden’). Now, the local residents have taken the initiative to lay out the entire stretch along the track as one continuous park: the Essenburgpark.
-ROTTERDAM (NL) FROM 2000
-DAF-ARCHITECTEN, SPOORTUIN, DE PLUKTUIN, IEDERS TUIN (ESSENBURGPARK), SIGRUN LOBST (DE SPEELDERNIS)
To let the building blend in with the Rembrandtpark, it was completely covered with vegetation. To this end, more than fifty species of plants, shrubs and trees were placed on the roof and the façades. The vertical growth panels are irrigated through a sophisticated system, bringing exactly the right amount of water to each plant, depending on the local conditions. Sportplaza Mercator is located in Amsterdam-West’s multicultural district De Baarsjes. With the construction of a multifunctional swimming pool, the municipality wanted to improve social life in the neighbourhood. In addition to a swimming pool with a health centre, the complex therefore also houses a party centre, a café and a fast food restaurant. This mix of functions allows the different groups in the neighbourhood to meet each other in the complex. It took a while for the vegetation to actually make the building blend in with its surroundings. But ten years after completion, it is a green rock rising from the park around it.
-AMSTERDAM (NL) 2006
-TON VENHOEVENCS ARCHITECTURE+URBANISM, COPIJN TUIN- EN LANDSCHAPSARCHITECTEN
The Biotope Gardens in Copenhagen are set up as a recreational park area in combination with an educational project. The aim is to raise people’s awareness of the concept of biodiversity and to simultaneously challenge them to explore Danish nature. Walking on the Nørre Campus, visitors come across various green habitats. On this one terrain, there are areas of meadowland, beach, grassland and forest, each with typically Danish vegetation. The Faculty of Biology additionally uses the area for educational and research purposes. Part of the gardens was planted together with the students, for instance. GXN designed seating objects for the park and themed gardens directly around these Biotope Gardens. The recreational places on the campus challenge users to take a closer look at the planting from the objects.
An edible forest garden is a forest ecosystem related to permaculture gardening, in which a wealth of edible or otherwise usefull species is laid out. Although the principle is ancient and can be found in many cultures, it was reintroduced in our temperate climate zone by Robert Hart with his book Forest Gardening, Rediscovering Nature and Community in a Post-Industrial Age (1997) and further developed by Martin Crawford. Compared to most permaculture gardens and smaller vegetable or plant gardens, a forest garden is generally larger and contains mostly perennial plant species. The principle is the same, though: creating a closed and resilient ecosystem of mutually cooperating species. Diversity in types of microclimates (shaded and sunny, and everything in between) and gradients (taller and lower plants and trees) are important design principles for an edible forest garden. The local conditions, namely the climate, the soil and native species, form the basis for the design. More so than in a permaculture vegetable garden, the various horizontal layers, from the canopy to the deeper soil layers, play a role in the structure of a forest garden. In a well-laidout edible forest garden, every niche is filled and there are no empty spots in the system. Edible species can be taken up in all layers of the system: trees bearing nuts or fruit; berry bushes; rubus species; ground covers, such as strawberries; climbers, such as Indian cress and hardy kiwi; a multitude of herbs and edible tuber and root species.