Last Friday the final presentations and the award ceremony of the Floriade Challenge ‘The Green Escape’ took place at Aeres University of Applied Sciences. Twenty-five young professionals accepted the challenge to develop an innovative concept for greening an important slow-traffic route in the centre of Almere.
In five months time, they worked in interdisciplinary teams towards their final designs for mitigating heat stress and promoting citizens’ health. To equip the teams with the latest scientific information a series of master classes on topics such as climate change, neuroscience, and conservation were given by internationally renowned experts. In a knockout race, six teams presented their green solutions.
Buro Greenscape was rewarded with the first place in the challenge. Their design intends to blur the strict dividing line between city and nature. The cycle and pedestrian paths hover above the water’s surface and lead through the reed fringes, providing endlessly surprising views over the city. The chair of the jury Hester Kester (Municipality of Almere) mentioned that it is the most innovative idea. The water plays a central role and can function as a water buffer during periods of drought and heavy rainfall. City in Balance was rewarded in the second place for considering the needs and comfort of the elderly in the plan. The third place went to team Morning people where the variety of green solutions and functions are appreciated. The Less Stone, Do Nature team received an honorable mention for the developed active pergola as a street-level intervention.
Photo credits: Wim Messink, Fotolinie
The ceremony was festively opened by Flevoland provincial executive Harold Hofstra at Aeres University of Applied Sciences Almere and concluded with Alderman Jan Hoek in the Natural Pavilion. Harold Hofstra explained that the symbioses with nature has been broken and therefore nature should return to the table with the major challenges we are facing. “The aim is to create a situation in which nature inclusiveness has become the new standard”. Aeres Professor Gideon Spanjar who co-organized the event and led the introduction of the challenge raised the question of how we can keep cities livable in changing climate. Spanjar argued that we should start today by covering the entire city with green and not looking at greening the open spaces only but also the skin of buildings for a full adaption to climate change and the promotion of human well-being.
In addition, Minister Nature and Nitrogen Christianne van der Wal shared some inspiring words with the challengers. According to van der Wal we have to restore nature and reduce nitrogen by 50% by 2030. “We have to realize a new balance between nature and economic. We reached the borders of economic growth”. The minister pointed out that the young professionals are the future and have practical solutions like the active pergola for sports, social connection, shading, and greening of the city. That is the way we need to think and search for solutions. The day was supervised by Eric Aangeenburg (Municipality of Almere) and Dina El Filali (Floriade Knowledge Programme). The Challenge is a collaboration of the Municipality of Almere, Aeres University of Applied Sciences and the Floriade Expo 2022.