On the Road to Future Green City

How often do we hear that the journey is more important than the actual destination.

In a new eight-part series in Stadswerk Magazine, we take a different view on this. After all, we can only be “on the road” when we have an idea of the look, 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 major 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 ‘technical manufacturability’ of a green healthy environment? Still too little steeped in nature inclusiveness and a 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 to secure places.

At the same time, we want to remain green and liveable. Are we going to 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, 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.

Maarten Loeffen

Maarten Loeffen

Director of Stadswerk Netherlands