Candidate – The Netherlands
Submission by: Stadswerk072 N.V.
Project name: Vergroenen en Biodiversiteit Alkmaar
Endless flowering for a biodiversity boost was my presentation at the European Green City Congress at the Floriade. The project exist of several smaller locations in Alkmaar city which we turn from ‘Gray’ to ‘Green’. The result stands out, not only local in Alkmaar but throughout the Netherlands. Why? Because these are all Quick Win locations. Neglected paved squares within a few months transformed to beautiful green pocket parks.
The social cohesion is clearly noticeable. After turning the paved neglected pocket squares into green, the use is instantly visible. Local residents are recreating in the parks and post positive messages and stories about this space regularly on social media. Children from the neighbourhood and nearby schools are now playing here once again.
Because we use at most locations a great diversity of plants, including a wide range of trees (of different types), various berry-bearing shrubs, wildflowers, flowering bulbs and perennials. We pay attention to use a good balance between domestic plants and trees and cultivated ones. Because of the great variety this gives an immense boost to the biodiversity. The pocket parcs are often connected to each other or to ecological zones. So in the way we create a greater extent.
We pay attention to the cost of construction and maintenance. The new green situations are an investment, but also cost more in maintenance. We choose for quality products and reliable partners to work with. But what it gives back in positive returns is priceless. A healthier and attractive environment, social cohesion, biodiversity and better condition to cope with heavy rain and heat stress in the city. And don’t forget that this green change also effects the prices of the houses, these prices rise faster because of the view and area they stand in.
We do research to what heat and water problems do at these locations. At all those paved squares we disconnect the storm drains from the sewer. So rain will find it’s natural way into the soil of the greened area. We also plant where possible extra trees. Trees in bad condition and bad health will be replaced for new ones. This automatically makes the squares cooler during summer and better resistant to heavy rain.
Wellbeing of visitors/users
As mentioned earlier local residents are recreating in the parks and post positive messages and stories about this space regularly on social media. Children from the neighbourhood and nearby schools are now playing here once again. It is proven that this has a positive effect on the wellbeing of humans. With these projects we involve the neighbourhood to participate, and the residents have a voice in the plans. If you do so you create instantly goodwill to the nearby residents.
Selection, origin and quality of the products and materials
The selection is based on input from residents, colleagues, and the municipality. We also use maps with heat and water stress information and have a tool called Green City Challenge to make the right choices. The products and partners we use must be sustainable suppliers or natural and must provide us be certifications like Planet Proof, NL Greenlabel or MPS.
The overall design
The designs for the pocket squares we make ourselves. We are focused on the input of green in the technical drawings and planting plan. We don’s make architectural drawings for whole neighbourhoods or buildings. We are most active in existing neighbourhoods. Because of our practical and local knowledge and our green thinking, gives us an advantage to do our own designing instead of spending money to expensive architects.
The impact on the environment
I’m afraid I’m repeating myself with earlier given answers. But the greening of pocket squares in existing suburbs are one of the most effect ways to cooldown the environment. Products we take and can recycle, we implement in the project or in other project or make sure they are used for good use for making products.
Innovative value off the project
We learn from every project and try to implement great innovations. Our last project at Urkstraat square has lots new innovations on greening. This way we have a pocket square we can use as an example for what is possible for greening spaces. We have then practical small examples of innovations and after monitoring the results we can (if they work well of course) use them on a bigger scale.