On the Road to Future Green City
Stadswerk, our Association Member from The Netherlands, are our hosts for our 21st IFME World Congress to be held in Utrecht in 2024.
Dr Maarten Loeffen, Director of Stadswerk, introduces the Congress with the first of a series of articles addressing different aspects on the road to Future Green City.
How often do we hear that the journey is more important than the actual destination? We take a different view on this in a new eight-part series in Stadswerk magazine. After all, we can only be “on the road” when we have an idea of the look and the layout of that city with a future. That is why we are going to explore that urban environment. A Future Green City, what exactly is that? What does the public space with a future look like? Only when we know that can we find our way to our final goal.
In 2015, we wrote that the Future Green City puts people at the centre of their green healthy living environment. That Future Green City is an environment where we know how to deal with significant changes and where we see opportunities and are able to exploit new techniques. Not wrong, but possibly a little too Anthropocene in its wording, tending a little too much toward the ‘technical manufacturability’ of a green healthy environment. Still, too little steeped in nature inclusiveness and the necessary pursuit of robust green structures?
How will we achieve that when space is scarce as it is here in the Netherlands? We are already a highly urbanised country, a metropolitan river delta landscape, with a growing population and, in the longer term, a very vulnerable lowland. So inevitably, we need to densify even further in safe or secure places. At the same time, we want to remain green and liveable. Can we manage that by banning parked cars from the city centres? Or is more needed and do we need to rethink public space three-dimensionally? Should we implement projects like the Valley in Amsterdam, Wonderwoods (Utrecht) or the Trudo tower (Eindhoven) on a large scale with our historic city centres as them parc -like tourist attractions in between? Not thinking within the current city limits but seeing our entire country as a coherent urban landscape?
A complex issue where solutions for biodiversity, mobility, climate adaptation, liveability, safety, subsoil, circularity, smart city, moving space, greenery, and business climate must start falling together like pieces of a puzzle. In our series this year, we will explore the Future Green City, the urban environment with a future, from different perspectives. So that in 2024, at our Future Green City 2024 world congress, we will be well prepared when meeting our foreign colleagues from World Urban Parks and the International Federation of Municipal Engineering.
The city with a future cannot be sketched on the drawing board of urban planners alone. It involves an interplay of design, layout, and management. And even if we get that right, we will not manage to achieve Utopia. Every time we think we are there, new problems, challenges and insights will demand change and the puzzle will have to be re-laid. The road to Future Green City is thus an endless road but the view is beautiful.
Dr Maarten H M Loeffen