by Sunena V MajuDec 22, 2022
As the world's largest horticulture expo Floriade 2022 commences in Almere, the banks of Weerwater become home to MVRDV's winning proposal for the arboretum masterplan. The expo known for creating long-lasting green legacies is presenting the theme of 'Growing Green Cities', thereby ensuring the platform to be greener, more productive, and more sustainable than ever. Under this notion, MVRDV approached the planning in a new discernment, "Can Floriade 2022 be ecologically self-sufficient and stand as a model for symbiotic urbanism?" This edition of Floriade Expo is therefore the output of multiple such questions devised by MVRDV to create a sustainable legacy in the once-a-decade horticultural show.
Inaugurated on April 14, 2022 by King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, this year’s expo is not only relevant to plants but also exhibits latest innovations from around 400 participants on nature-inclusive agriculture and sustainable constructions in 93 per cent recycled plastic. Along with the Floriade Park showcasing the latest horticultural developments from around the world, the masterplan becomes the grail for a green counterpart to Almere’s city centre on the other side of Weerwater. At the conclusion of the six-month-long expo, the site embarked on grids will be moulded into a Cité Idéal. The attempt is to enrich 60 hectares of land with plants, trees, and flowers along with exploring its potential to become a sustainable, energy and food-producing district city, named 'Hortus'.
MVRDV's arboretum concept is hinged on a strict grid pattern, thereby forming small streets, squares, and designated spaces for temporary pavilions. The streets are covered by plant and tree species in the alphabetical order of their Latin names, A-Z from northwest to southeast respectively. With 2800 trees donated by Dutch tree growers and over a million shrubs, perennials and bulbs planted, the technical aspects of planting are developed by landscape architect Niek Roozen, along with Christiaan Pfeiffer from the municipality of Almere.
The autarkic approach is an opportunity to understand the contribution of plants to building a green city along with their necessities to grow. While the expo will display the wide array and potential of horticulture, the arboretum is expected to act as an instrument to disseminate this knowledge. “When the new district is built, a symbiosis can arise between city and landscape and we can test the effect of plants on buildings,” says MVRDV founding partner Winy Mass. The proposal of Hortus extends a permanent place for a wide coalescence of plant species exhibited in Floriade and thereby represents a physical index for the flora in the Dutch climatic zone.
Prologue to the 'bridge campus', connected by a boulevard that borders the garden, are two circular bridges. These bridges become one of the finest examples of the municipality of Almere and the province of Flevoland to use cement-free concrete from Almere's construction waste. MVDRV opens spaces in the masterplan for various architects to translate their own visions around the concept of ‘green dip’. Complementing the arboretum plan, ZUS Architects alongside Floriade quality team designed the public spaces.
In the heart of the Floriade Park nestles the 43.5-meter-tall Flores Tower. Designed by MVRDV, the tower is proposed to be used as a base for event organisation. The colourful façade adores an artwork named ‘Sympoiesis’ created in collaboration with Arttenders and Flemish artist Alex Verhaest. With all of the expo’s trees, plants, and flower species composed and printed on the glass façade and their names and locations provided on the plinth, the Flores Tower is the first permanent building in the new district. As the arboretum will be managed under an independent foundation in the future, MVRDV believes the expo will be maintained and developed to be a legacy.
(Text by Sunena V Maju, intern at STIRworld)