If we would tell people stories about how incredible the Earth was – see the quote in this e-zine by Rebecca Solnit – I think we would surely tell them about the landscapes of the arctic, such as the Unesco World heritage site Aasivissut – Nipisat in Greenland. There is so much nature over there, and so few traces of civilisation. Rocks and fjords, no trees and few people. Some dogs, used for sledges in wintertime. Yet here culture and nature form an inspiring combination. And so does this wonderfully fitting piece of architecture designed by Konstantin Ikonomidis. He created a type of shelter made of glass. Artificial and strange in a way, and perhaps it does not offer shelter in the physical sense. But mentally, it does. It is respectful.
Perhaps just as unusual as this shelter of glass is the dune landscape that was designed by Buro Harro on a roof in Amsterdam. Tiny as it is, you can swim there, you can walk around on the curvy footpath of
shells and sit under a Scots pine tree. Is this decadency, melancholica, a contribution to urban ecology, is it fun, or pleasure? I think it has to do with respect as well. And seeing this landscape in a city as dense as Amsterdam, people might become more careful. Greening the city, but with an intention. The sea is not far away. Harro reminds us.
Somewhere in between Greenland and Amsterdam is Copenhagen, and so are the shelters of Effekt. Poetic, original and with an overall touch of ecology. In a podcast Daniel Veenboer of Effekt talks about their commitment to solve the challenges of our time in their projects. Rebecca Solnit should have a look.
editor in chief
Photos Jeroen Musch
Fresh air and dunes in the heart of Amsterdam? An idea as impossible as it is crazy, you might think. Not so the designers of Buro Harro. On the roof of a nature-inclusive new-build block on the Groenmarkt, they created a true dune landscape with great amounts of sand and countless indigenous dune plants. Black pines move with the predominantly south-westerly wind, winding shell paths tempt one for a stroll and then to enjoy a drink on the beach pavilion with its lovely sheltered terrace. The screeching of seagulls flying overhead and the hubbub of the city in the background. And as icing on the cake, the residents can also swim lengths in the sleekly designed swimming pool.
To create such a roof landscape, other techniques are needed than when building at ground level. This is where De Dakdokters stepped in. The water-buffering roof acts as a sponge. On top of this are one and a half metre high dunes. For the planting of these dunes, Harro has used indigenous and sometimes rare plant species of calcareous dunes, just like in his red list garden. A feast for small insects such as bees. The space taken up by the building at ground level has been returned to the roof. The facades of the apartment building are also inhabited by plants, birds, bats and insects. A place buzzing with life and with an amazing view over the city. What possibilities facades and roofs can offer...
Project Duindak/Dune Roof Groenmarkt, Amsterdam
Location Groenmarkt, Amsterdam
Designers Harro de Jong, Jan Eiting, René van Seumeren
with Bastiaan Jongerius Architects, Ronald Janssen Architects, De Dakdokters (technical development, construction)
Commissioned by HBB, Edwin Oostmeijer Project Development
Area 0.1 ha
Photos Jeroen Musch
'We see increasingly complex urban challenges. We see it as imperative to tackle these problems and integrate them in our projects. So a few years back, we actually started working with these challenges and began turning them into potentials.’
The guest in this episode of the podcast series All Good Vibes by Floornature is Daniel Veenboer, head of Sustainability at Effekt. This Danish firm embraces nature with a range of well-thought-out projects.
Once the conversation with Daniel starts, it’s easy listening. The inspiration and commitment are palpable. Very stimulating!
Also available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.
EFFEKT is a design and research studio based in Copenhagen. Throughout the podcast you can hear their motto ‘We aim to create a lasting social, economic and environmental impact with each individual project’. Remarkable principle is the Ikea effect: if people are more involved in a process and are able to influence it, they will feel more responsibility and will take greater ownership of the final result.
Listening to the conversation with head of sustainability Daniel Veenboer makes you want to see those fascinating projects. Like Naturbyen where they designed a community of 200 homes in a new forest, or the Harbour Farm.
Here you can buy or eat the vegetables that are grown below the water surface. The Forest Tower is a vertical walkway through the forest with the intention to protect the local flora and fauna. At the same time, it is an iconic design with a magnificent view above the treeline And not to be missed, the beautiful installation ‘Ego to Eco’ for the Venice Biennale, to make us rethink the way we live together on this planet. All the small trees, which have grown during the 6 month exhibition, will be replanted in Middelfart Denmark. These are a few examples to get to know their work and their inspiring way of thinking. Enjoy!
By Rebecca Solnit. From the long read ‘Ten ways to confront the climate crisis without losing hope’. In The Guardian, Nov 2021.
Photos Julien Lanoo
Imagine a grand mountain landscape just above the Arctic Circle in West-Greenland with rich coloured houses on the rocks rising from the fjords. Sarfannguit is home to just over 100 inhabitants and has been part of the Unesco World Heritage site Aasivissuit - Nipisat since 2018. Unesco and commissioned Swedish architect Konstantin Ikonomidis considered this to be the right place to celebrate and promote the intangible Inuit cultural heritage and their connection with that landscape. On top of these hills, Ikonomidis designed and built a glass pavilion, called Qaammat, inspired by the moon and the arctic light in combination with the snow’s reflection. His interest in integrating landscape, culture and human stories into his designs led to encounters, conversations and interviews with the locals. These experiences, stories and myths are reflected poetically in the design of the pavilion.
The pavilion is anchored in the rocky terrain. Just like the local coloured houses, rock anchors are drilled into the ground. The metal bar, on which the curving walls of glass blocks lean, is fully horizontal and the poles vary in length according to the terrain. These curving walls form a linear pathway, open at both ends. The two narrow openings invite the visitor to experience the pavilion’s intimate atmosphere and open up to the wider landscape. Glass was chosen as a building material because of its palpability, its ability to highlight transparency. The glass will absorb and diverge light, and seen from a distance, it will reflect the colours of the surroundings, the seasons, the passing of time. Qaammat, set on the planned trail between Sarfannguit and Nipisat, will serve as a landmark and gathering point that can be experienced by locals and visitors of this amazing landscape.
Project Fjeld pavilion
Location Sarfannguit, Greenland
Designer Konstantin Ikonomidis
with the locals from Sarfannguit, TU Delft University, WonderGlass, Dow Inc
Commissioned by Qeqqata municipality, Greenland, UNESCO World Heritage Aasivissuit – Nipisat
Collaborator Sisimiut Museum (Sisimiut Katersugaasiviat)
Sponsors WonderGlass (glass blocks), Dow Inc. (glue)
Glass research Konstantin Ikonomidis
with Faidra Oikonomopoulou and Telesilla Bristogianni from TU Delft University
Design 2019 - 2021
Photos Julien Lanoo
What drives European designers to leave their comfort zone and start working on projects in Peru, South Africa, Mexico, Jordan or Kenia?
What inspired them? What did they learn? What could they achieve? Projects, reflections and a round table discussion.
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