Framed in context of a cooperation with the city of Almere, this research project dealt with understanding the spatial conditions supporting productive green infrastructures and related green jobs in cities.
Amidst the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the European Commission wants to align the Biodiversity Strategy of the European Green Deal (EGD) with restoring local economies. The EGD points at the widely accepted benefits of green urban spaces, ranging from health, recreation, refuge to nature, and mitigation of climate change. More importantly, it points at how the extensive deployment of green infrastructure in urban and periurban areas has the potential to have a positive economic impact in cities: new related jobs can help tackle inequalities and ensure a just transition to climate neutrality.
In an urban setting, activities linked to rewilding, green infrastructure and nature-based solutions could include: plant production, conservation and management of spaces, biomass production, biochar, development of innovative technologies, urban agricultural and livestock production, and nature-related leisure, among others—each one with specific spatial requirements (including buildings and infrastructure).
Questions included: How do green infrastructure strategies in a given type of landscape relate to different kinds of work? What are the exact spatial implications and needs of such productive and care activities? How can those needs be integrated into an urban setting? For that, students used a mixed methodology (literature review, interviews, fieldwork, analytical drawing) on a Dutch landscape type. Ultimately, the overall aim was to establish links between urban greening strategies, landscape and biotope types, productive activities, and spatial design.
Below we present the results of this Honors Program, developed under the supervision of Dr Víctor Muñoz Sanz. Paola Huijding, project director and senior urban designer at the municipality of Almere contributed to this research through reviews and by sharing insights and information with the students.
Agro-Urban Ecologies: Design of a climate-adaptive agroecosystem and urban expansion in Almere-Pampus, by Fábio Alzate Martínez
This research explores the potential of urban design to fulfill the role of integrating the domains of ecology, food, and climate change to achieve long-term restorative goals. Also, the potential of urban design to be the operator of a dynamic coexistence with nature by acting upon the diverse layers of landscape infrastructure and embedded socioenvironmental systems. After establishing the theoretical foundations on the domain intersections, this research adopts a research-by-design methodology that aims to answer the question of how can urban design simultaneously operationalize the intersection of ecological restoration, climate adaptation, and food production through spatial possibilities in an exploratory case study. Divided in three steps, the case study exercise starts by a pre-design step, that aims to achieve a contextual problem definition; subsequently, the design step focuses on developing a program, proposals, and evaluation of the proposals; and finally, the post-design step establishes a synthesis of the projections and discusses the wider knowledge acquired during the process. Through a contextual analysis of the case study of urban expansion in the Netherlands (Almere-Pampus), it is revealed that territorial dynamics, the trade-offs between current land use, and also the political context of the site are intertwined with its landscape infrastructure, that is vulnerable to sea-level rise. Furthermore, by adopting local references of “building with nature” approaches, it establishes a projective design exercise to investigate the potential of answering the research question through the proposition of a renaturalization process grounded on an agroecosystem that functions on base of local habitats. The results of the research indicate the potential of endogenous forms of production and land use to coexist with natural dynamics and guide the spatial design of multifunctional backbones. Also, it reveals the possible agency of a reformed countryside to be part of a decentralized water infrastructure that guides renaturalization efforts, integrating local actors and agenda demands.
Full report here.
Almere Pampus – A timber city steering towards a nature-inclusive urbanism, by Luis Druschke
Cities are constructed with extractive, finite resources that put enormous pressure on global climatic conditions. The building and construction sector is responsible for 36 percent of the global energy demand and 37 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions worldwide. With the prospect of massive urbanization, the built environment will fundamentally contribute to a spike in global carbon dioxide emissions. This porject investigates an alternative: It researches the potential of turning cities into carbon sinks with emphasis on the reduction of embodied carbon dioxide emissions of cross-laminated timber. Localizing the supply chain and bridging the gap between urban planning and timber production allows the investigation of synergies between the forest and the city. This research tackles the dilemma of accelerated urbanization while decreasing C02 emissions in a research-by-design approach with a city development project as a case-study. The proposed transition from the commodification of timber to the holistic benefits of trees results in an integrative design of ecologic processes and urban dynamics. This reseach suggests a framework to offset the embodied carbon dioxide emissions of cross-laminated timber by transcending the nature city dichotomy.
Full report here.
Interuniversity Sustainability Challenge
To conclude their cycle, students shown their work at the final presentation of the Interuniversity Sustainability Challenge at the Municipality of Almere, after an invitation by Paola Huijding. This activity connected research developed at TU Delft to the Alliance TU/e, WUR, UU, UMC Utrecht.