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.




vleermuizentoren201_desktop_generated_tcm21-95598This tower serves as compensation for bat roosts that were removed in the renewal of the N18 road between Enschede and Varsseveld in the eastern part of the Netherlands. It functions as a breeding and winter stay for the common pipistrelle, and as a summer and winter stay for the serotine bat and the rare brown long-eared bat. The plinth of the building has a rough finish to offer grip for bats that climb in from below. The old-Dutch pantile roof also provides cavities. Gypsum walls in the interior of the tower have openings of 2 to 3 centimetres. These openings and nests in the top are replacement housing for bats looking for a new home.

-BOEKELO (NL) 2016



4.8 Văcărești, Bukarest

photo: Helmut Ignat

One of the largest natural parks in an urban area in Europe evolved from a former artificial basin in Bucharest (HU). Since it was abandoned in 1989, nature has taken over the area without any human intervention, resulting in a range of different landscapes. The northern edge is a grassy meadow with nut trees, poplars and elms. At its heart, there are three big lakes with characteristic wetland vegetation, such as willows, Johnson grass and water lillies. The Văcărești wetland area is thus emblematic of the resilience of nature.


Nature is art, according to artist and botanist herman de vries (1931). Asked to create a work of art for the new residential district Wateringse Veld in The Hague, he decided to exhibit trees in a Tree Museum. The project consists of several hundred species of trees from all over the world spread out over the streets and squares of this new suburb. Designers and tree experts looked for a suitable soil and street profile for each species. The names of the trees are inscribed in tiles marking the beginning and end of a street. So in one street, the honey locust dominates the profile, while the Yoshino cherry does so in another. Although it is explicitly presented as an art project, the Tree Museum has ecological value as well. The neighbourhood has become an arboretum or a biodiversity depot for both indigenous and exotic trees. A comprehensive tree guide—the catalogue for the permanent collection of the museum—gives an explanation of the trees and the Wateringse Veld project.


-herman de vries





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.





The transformation of the Østerbro district of Copenhagen’s city centre has been going on since the 1970s. Building blocks with predominantly stony inner courts characterized this part of Copenhagen. Denmark’s capital has 500 of such blocks. Together with the residents, some of these have gradually been turned into green urban spaces over the last decades. In recent years, a new challenge presented itself. In addition to greening, the water management of the district has become an important theme. The heavy rainfalls of the last years have placed enormous pressure on the drainage system, for which a solution must be found. The Skt. Kjelds neighbourhood is central to this solution. Measures include the greening of squares with spots that can buffer stormwater, and facilities in public space for controlled drainage, such as cycle lanes that also serve as rainwater outlets. Where possible, the stormwater measures are combined with greening. The neighbourhood is a testing ground for projects in the field of climate change adaptation, and new insights into what does and does not work can also be applied in other parts of Copenhagen.



more info: website Klimakvarter




The Landscape Park Duisburg Nord is located at the 200-hectare terrain of a former ironworks complex. This urban park has five functions: Neue Natur (protecting flora and fauna), Industrial museum, Volkspark (recreation), Abenteuerspielplatz (large playground) and Kulturforum (places of art and culture). The intention is for the park to develop slowly. So it is not ‘finished’. Latz + Partner came up with the basic design in 1991, and it gained great momentum during the International Architecture Exhibition (IBA). Characteristic of the design is that it makes use of the old complex. Bunkers, for example, were filled with old railway sleepers and covered with ferns. By paying attention to the site’s history and making it part of the renewal, the design is given a deeper meaning. The existing drainage canal, which in fact was an open sewer, was put underground and replaced with a new open canal that only drains clear (rain)water. The new canal is just as straight as the old one was. The designers wanted to show that the function of a ‘canal’ could change with time. Another intervention was not to remove the contaminated soil, but to let plants clean it instead. Heavily contaminated soil was locally stored in bunkers.





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.

-ARNHEM (NL) 2013




L’Oasis d’Aboukir, Paris, angle rue d’ Aboukir – rue des Petits Carreaux Design: Patrick Blanc (2013)

Patrick Blanc is a botanist and his company developed the green wall into a high-tech version. In the ‘mur végétal’ the water system is essential. This vertical garden consists of a metal frame with a PVC plate as a foundation for two layers of polyamide felt. This layer acts as a sponge, similar to moss. A network of pipes transports nutrient-rich water to the plants. Gravity ensures that the liquid slowly drips down from the soaked felt. At the bottom of the wall, a gutter collects the excess water and brings it back into the system. The selection of the plants for each project depends on the type of environment, the local microclimate and the amount of daylight. The first vertical garden was implemented in 1986 at the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie in Paris. The first project with a large-scale vertical garden was the wall of the Musée du quai Branly in 2006, designed by Jean Nouvel. More than ten years later, vertical gardens can be found all over the world. The system is certainly not an example of spontaneous nature; and because there is no soil, it is an ecosystem that depends on technology. Nevertheless, insects and birds find food and shelter here. These vertical gardens furthermore provide a pleasant, heat-absorbing microclimate, as you can feel around the Oasis of Aboukir in the hot summer months.

-PARIJS (FR) 2013