• European Green Cities/Site Development

The Vision behind the PZH Rotterdam Garden at the China Flower Expo 2021

The PZH Rotterdam Garden took place in Shanghai, Chongming during the 10th Flower Expo. Due to the strict travel restrictions, the designer of the garden, Bert Dautzenberg, unfortunately was not able to be there. However, we had the chance to interview him, and get to know more about his vision and perspective on the garden.


Bert, your garden design contains some symbolic elements of what a future garden can look like, what is the vision behind your designs, how do you integrate horticulture in urban landscape design?


An important element of the Garden is the maze. The maze is entirely made out of garbage, and literally takes you through the trash of the city. It reflects the urban pollution we are surrounded with when living in an urban area. At the end of the maze, you arrive at several unique green spaces, like the central pavilion or the insect hotel. These places demonstrate what elements are important for future city designs to become resilient and sustainable in today’s environment. The insect hotel stands for biodiversity, and at the same time serves as an educational tool. It provides insights on the functions insects have for the people and nature and stimulates a new way of thinking about sustainable urban development. The green features of the garden engage visitors in a fun way and encourages discussion about the functions of Nature-Based Solutions.


Bert, your garden design contains some symbolic elements of what a future garden can look like, what is the vision behind your designs, how do you integrate horticulture in urban landscape design?


An important element of the Garden is the maze. The maze is entirely made out of garbage, and literally takes you through the trash of the city. It reflects the urban pollution we are surrounded with when living in an urban area. At the end of the maze, you arrive at several unique green spaces, like the central pavilion or the insect hotel. These places demonstrate what elements are important for future city designs to become resilient and sustainable in today’s environment. The insect hotel stands for biodiversity, and at the same time serves as an educational tool. It provides insights on the functions insects have for the people and nature and stimulates a new way of thinking about sustainable urban development. The green features of the garden engage visitors in a fun way and encourages discussion about the functions of Nature-Based Solutions.


For greening and feeding mega cities in China, what advises/tips would you give to urban planners or landscape designers? What must be taken into consideration for future garden designs? Are there any guiding principles you would like to share?


It is important to start small. Especially when you look at a country like China, where the climate circumstances are very different, depending on the city you are looking at. Before you can develop a city on large-scale in a sustainable way, you fist need to execute smaller pilot projects. A pilot project of three years gives insights in the specific problems of the city and demonstrates its needs for green development. An example of such a project is the pilot project Sponge City in Dalian, realized by The Hanging Water Tank and Green Art International.

This project has demonstrated the effectiveness of the innovative water system on the rooftops of buildings to collect, store and re-distribute rainwater in urban areas. Based on the data collected and results of the pilot project, it can be further developed and spread out over the city.


It seems that some parties are hesitant to invest in urban green because the effects of the investment are not directly visible. Why should local governments invest in urban green development? Is it worth it?

Small-sale projects are able to show that investing in green sustainable projects is cost-efficient and effective. The above-mentioned Sponge City project is a great example. Stagnated and contaminated water is a big problem in Chinese cites. The polit project of Sponge City has shown that this technology pays off its initial investment and is both beneficial to the people and the environment of the city. To achieve large-scale change, it is important that the government incorporates positive incentives for companies who invest in green-tech and nature-based solutions. Currently there are many water-purifying companies in China who get paid to purify the stagnated and contaminated water. Instead of simply purifying it, it would be much more efficient to use it in a circular way; collect the water, store it, and re-use it, just like Sponge City in Dalian. The innovative water system does not only solve the water problem in a sustainable way, but it also benefits to biodiversity and the resilience of the city.









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