An assortment of international interior horticulturalists, interior architects and researchers, but also of policymakers and administrators were inspired by five keynote speakers at the Buildin’Green conference. Their practical cases and experience with building in green attest to a clear vision on durability, economic development and innovation. The five speakers put people and their experiences central. This seems natural, but not self-explanatory in our industrial day and age: time for a paradigm shift.


What kind of world do project developers wish to create?

Green building is about feeling good and healthy in an urban environment or a building. The location of the conference was a perfect example: the cradle-to-cradle-Park 20|20 in Haarlemmermeer. During the kick-off of the conference project developer Owen Zachariasse asked the central question of property developers: what kind of world do you wish to create? Building an innovative business park in a municipality with sustainability as focal point: it’s ‘seeing business in the possibility for change.’ Thinking and acting green is completely integrated in his project development, in his conviction that the quality of the working environment has a direct effect on the quality of the work. You will see this in a park environment, in cradle-to-cradle building and in the menu of the campus restaurant: with home-grown vegetables. And it’s also economically sound: your employees will make your profit. If they work best in ‘wise’ instead of ‘smart’ buildings, you will see an increase in productivity and a decrease in sick leave. So it becomes economically viable pretty quickly.

Cities like forest, houses like trees

Dutch architect Raimond de Hullu (pronounced like: huu-luu) of OAS1S tells how he has come about his green concepts. These green tower houses are the result of his experiences in Zeeland, where he grew up outdoors, and his admiration of the green walls of Patrick Blanc. But also of his frustration with academia, where modern architecture and design don’t go well with mankind. ‘A modernist like Le Corbusier doesn’t allow for green.’ The biodegradable training shoe made him turn around completely and start working green. De Hullu wants to turn the concrete jungle into a green oasis with his tree-inspired houses made of recycled wood. These go beyond seeing green as a gadget or mere decoration.

Green walls sell themselves

Canadian Mike Weinmaster of Green over Grey from Vancouver (that has the outstanding ambition to be greenest city of the world in 2020) shows the audience his living walls. His greatest outdoor project consists of two green walls of 3000 m2, planted with 150 to 200 plant species. He has looked all over the world for the plants that suit his vertical gardens best. The ever-growing urbanization asks for more green to be integrated in cities and buildings. In order to keep abreast with project development, Mike thinks it’s necessary to speak a lot about your product and educate people in your network in thinking about green and planting by letting them experience green walls. His project in schools and an exhibition about living walls have encouraged the mayor of Vancouver to integrate green into a shopping mall and a library. Such projects actually advertise themselves. As Weinmaster says himself: ‘I have built the first wall without making any profit, but after that time they sold themselves.’

Bio-based building is the way to go

Daan Bruggink of ORGA architect is an innovator who designs bio-based buildings, inspired by the scents, colours and shapes he finds in nature. His story sketches how great social trends, like the development from the ego to the eco society, as well as design and the latest vision on materials (c2c, ecologically restoring old buildings) all influence the materialisation, bio-based or not, of projects. ‘In the circular economy the bio circle is easier to realize than in a technical circle. The working relationships also become different. Mankind is no longer positioned at the top of the pyramid but is a partner in the circle. The traditional relationship between client and architect, who is backed by his suppliers, is changed into a network of equivalents where all parties talk to each other.’

Green building is all about wellbeing

Djelko van Es of YNNO explains that his consultancy firm for new working distinguishes seven dimensions in order to improve the sense of wellbeing in the working environment. Users experience wellbeing if there is a balance between the emotional, physical, spiritual, intellectual and social dimensions as well between the involvement in work and in the living environment. The offices of Liberty were designed according to this line of thinking. This parent company of Ziggo/UPC had the possibility to move to a new building, for example to the Zuidas in Amsterdam, but instead decided to thoroughly renovate the existing building. With tree surgery Copijn as their green partner, YNNO worked on a holistic makeover. Inside and outdoor planting, catering, routing, communication, sports facilities, art, interior design and decoration, living rooms, outdoor space: everything from these seven dimensions has been integrated into the operation. Plants are decorative and green and enhance privacy and air quality. YNNO has no doubts about the usefulness and necessity of indoor planting. Towards the end of his speech Djelko pleads with the green sector to stay innovative. ‘Think holistic and creative and go beyond mediocrity. Show that your way of living contributes to healthy people.’