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Ruimtelijke schaarste

Article by Amelia Lukmanto


The Netherlands is often referred to as the 'frog country'. A small country that is world-famous when it comes to water management. We live below sea level, supposedly below the Normaal Amsterdams Peil (NAP). For transformation- and spatial projects, keeping your feet dry all the time is a standard part of the task. Water safety is paramount at all times.


Current developments influence our spatial projects. Aspects beyond our control. Consider, for example; the influx of refugees and wars that are causing divisions in society. Also aspects that we could partly influence. Think of; Sustainability, climate-proof area development and the urban task, which includes the housing shortage. These issues must be solved in the existing space. Such tasks only increase over the years, while the surface of the space remains unchanged. This has resulted in a scarcity of space.


This development requires a different way of thinking and dealing with space. In relation to sustainability, where comfort plays an important role, this has an impact. Landscape and historical elements of value are and remain an important starting point for the design of an area. Think, for example, of a river, stream, historic buildings or communities. This gives an identity to the area and is important in relation to the creation of an 'area-specific' design. When it comes to comfort, in relation to sustainability, there are many design choices that we can apply well based on the context. Projects on a large or small scale. The introduction and stimulation of a bicycle network and public transport (OV) above the car route is an example of a large-scale approach. The message with this is that more movement is stimulated in the plan. In addition, stimulating the use of public transport has a collective nature and could increase the synergy between users. A building can serve as an example for a smaller scale where we can apply changes. The construction of green roofs and facades, solar panels on roofs where possible, the creation of water storage in the garden, etc.


Vegetable garden on the roof (Urbanfarming)


Roofpark (green roof)



Green facades


This spatial demand creates innovation and creates a positive challenge within the plan development. It is a puzzle to be able to realize as many spatial assignments as possible within the already scarce space. The principle of 'making work with work', aka joining forces, is often applied in current spatial plans. This makes a positive contribution in terms of time and planning, and at the same time it often has a positive result in terms of financial or feasibility of the plan. This makes a positive contribution to the necessary time and planning. At the same time, this often leads to positive results in terms of finances and in relation to the feasibility of the plan.


Nowadays we have a building principle, so-called 'building with nature'. There are countless examples of this domestically and abroad. It is literally building with nature and trying to involve the environment as much and as widely as possible in the plan. Consider, for example, a mangrove (pilot) project in Demak, Central Java in Indonesia (2015-2020). The area suffers from flooding and erosion caused by the relocation of mangrove forests, unsustainable coastal infrastructure and groundwater extraction for (illegal) drinking water. Mangrove is an aquatic plant that grows a lot on the coastline and functions well in the fight against coastal erosion and flooding. This involves making a permeable dam from thickets, a total of 20 km of coastline. These plants are placed on the shoreline to reduce and prevent erosion. The local population has played an important role in this. They contribute by producing the necessary material and are allowed to keep part of the income, the rest is put back into the project. This increases the ownership of the project and therefore of the area.


Permeable dam of thickets under construction


Baseline scenario (the areas are flooded because of erosion)


Dream scenario (restructuring of mangrove on the shoreline to reduce erosion)


Another example is a design of a park that is partly flooded. The planting, vegetation and maintenance methodology that are designed here must be adapted accordingly. A special kind of flora and fauna lives in the floodable part, which provides a certain identity for the area.


In short, there are countless ideas when it comes to building with nature. There is a lot of room for creativity, technology and innovation.


The call to students is: be careful with our scarce space and unleash your creativity!

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