IABR–2014–URBAN BY NATURE–, the sixth edition of the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR), recently wrapped up a packed roster of conferences, debates, lectures, excursions and other events spanning over several weeks.
URBAN BY NATURE– focuses on the interdependence of society and nature and the intricate relationship between city and landscape. Six separate exhibitions, still on display until Sunday, August 24 at the Kunsthal and the Natural History Museum Rotterdam, showcase almost one hundred projects that address these issues.
In this article, we highlight the first of the six exhibitions, A PLANET CULTIVATED:
Photo 2: Aranzadi Park (Aldavoyer Architecture) © Gerencia de Urbanismo, Ayuntamiento de Pamplona
Today, there are more trees in parks and nurseries than there are in forests. What we call nature is never free of human intervention: whether as small-scale as parks, or as large-scale as the climate. At the same time, we are part of nature. Now that more than 50 per cent of the world’s inhabitants live in urban conditions, cities have in fact become our natural habitat. Perhaps we are indeed ‘urban by nature’.
Looking through the lens of landscape architecture, IABR–2014– redefines the way we deal with urban challenges by analyzing the relationship between urban society and nature, and between city and landscape.
This edition of the biennale argues that cities are an integral part of huge urban landscapes, complex systems that have become our natural environment. This perspective has many implications for the way we plan and design our urban environment. Perceiving it as an organism opens up possibilities to develop spatial interventions that make use of its metabolism.
With the use of new and innovative design strategies that effectively address the city as the bigger urban landscape that it is, we can make the city more resilient and thus truly contribute to a more sustainable future world.
Photo 3: Wild Wonders of Europe © Laurent Geslin
A PLANET CULTIVATED
A PLANET CULTIVATED highlights the relationship between city and nature. Starting with gardens and parks all the way to nature conservation and 'building with nature'.
The World Wild Fund for Nature The Netherlands welcomes this opportunity to demonstrate its new approach to nature conservation in an urbanized world. And front stage is given to the results of the IABR–Project Atelier Planet Texel.
WWF Netherlands and IABR–2014–
Growing cities, the urbanization of rural areas, the intensification of agriculture, and the depopulation of peripheral regions inform us that land use is changing rapidly, worldwide. The social, environmental, and economic impacts this in turn entails have negative effects on natural processes
That's why the IABR asked the World Wide Fund for Nature in the Netherlands to contribute to the biennale, to reflect together on the future of nature conservation in an urbanizing world.
To minimize risks as much as possible, we can counteract the adverse effects. But we can also explore the underlying trends to establish what opportunities there are for the restoration of natural processes in our changing environment; how can they be implemented to enhance the quality of our life and security?
Nature Conservation in an Urban World is "an exhibition within the exhibition". Part of A PLANET CULTIVATED, it aims to demonstrate what opportunities arise when we restore natural processes and actively deploy them to improve our changeable habitat.
The exhibition is designed as a walk along a river in Europe. We walk along the water from a mountaintop to a delta city, sometimes literally, sometimes metaphorically. Many developments have multiple, interacting effects – what happens upstream, has consequences downstream.
Countryside biodiversity is in danger: more so in Europe than elsewhere in the world. Agriculture has contributed to a decline in biodiversity, to shutting down a variety of complimentary rural services, and to the degradation of soil fertility. Agriculture and forest drainage have eradicated the natural ‘sponginess’ of the land. Rivers in the Netherlands have been given more space to cope with high water levels, but absorptivity can also be increased in the European mountain ranges the rivers spring from. The restoration of the sponginess of the foothills will offer opportunities for recreation as well as please black storks, otters, and beavers, and it will decrease the flood risk downstream.
Focusing on different ways to restore natural processes in connection with agriculture can create healthy and resilient landscapes, with room for food production, nature, and recreation.
In some European regions, agriculture has withered away and people have left. Here, natural landscapes are restored and thanks to statutory nature conservation and hunting restrictions, we see large mammals returning to their old habitats. This also offers opportunities for new regional economic initiatives based on nature and recreation.
The walk ends in the delta city, where global developments are perhaps the most visible and where natural processes are therefore under particular pressure. How can restoration and the redevelopment of natural processes contribute to the viability and resilience of our cities, what are the opportunities here? How do we conserve nature, when we ourselves are urban by nature?
Photo 4: Official opening IABR-2014- © Maarten Laupman
Visitor Information - Opening Hours:
Tuesday till Saturday: from 10am - 5pm
on Sunday: from 11am - 5pm
closed on Monday
Natural History Museum Rotterdam
Tuesday till Sunday: from 11am - 5pm
closed on Monday
Visitor Information - Tickets:
THE PROJECT PHOTO EXPLAINED:
Photo 2: Aranzadi Park by Aldayjover Architecture and Landscape
In the Spanish city of Pamplona, the Agra River’s water flows freely through Aranzadi
Park. The river is considered to be as legitimate a Park user as any of the medieval town
inhabitants or the small farmers that have been growing vegetables here for centuries.
The lower section of the park is forested and urbanites and tourists come here for a
walk, a picnic or a rest. But every spring the river claims its ground – the water flows into
the park and recreates the landscape by distributing rich soil and seeds.
Three wetland areas in Aranzadi Park absorb rainwater for the city all year round. The
structural works for the out- and inflow of water are beautifully crafted. Small and
dilapidated buildings were taken from the park, but meaningful architecture was
preserved. Grubindo House – home of the Fundagro Foundation, a Spanish agricultural
organization – has been renovated and extended and now accommodates a center for
education, exposition, and meetings. Also, visitors can taste local produce here. The
extension is made of materials that match the agricultural character of the park, and that
can withstand the periodical flooding.
Also in this series: IABR–2014–URBAN BY Nature– Part 2: The Urban Metabolism