In this thesis report, research and landscape architecture design are integrated to formulate guiding principles to combat environmental and social issues in urban areas through the case-study of Lombardijen, a neighbourhood in the south of Rotterdam.
In the recently published Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’ climate report, the overall expectancies of climate change is expected to increase worldwide, with temperature rise as main pillar to cause intensifying weather conditions, sea level rise, draught, ocean acidification and flooding. These negative consequences of climate change are found to have an often amplifying effect on already existing inequalities based on asymmetries in power, showing great inequality in the levels of preparedness and ability to deal with climate change effects.
In the city of Rotterdam problems with flooding, draught and biodiversity loss, as well as problems with social inequality, a lack of social cohesion and a high demand for new houses put pressure on existing spatial structures. The neighbourhood of Lombardijen, in particular, is one of the cities post-war extensions based on garden-city principles. A once loved neighbourhood is now suffering from poor housing quality, lack of social integration due to fast changing demographics, large underused green spaces due to a lack of programming, poor ecological value due to monotonous vegetation and problems with water management. With the added demand for densification and the development of new houses, a new strategy needs to be made to bring the neighbourhood towards a holistic future.
Through the application of agroecology principles, possibilities are created for the improvement of environmental and social issues. Agroecology is an approach for the design and management of food and its production, as defined by Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations. It integrates ecological and social concepts, and seeks an optimization between plants, animals, humans and the environment through the diversification of landscapes, efficiency in the use of re-sources and the formation of strong community links that ensure possibilities for collaboration.
By introducing the model of an agroecological farm, the neighbourhood of Lombardijen gets the opportunity to receive direct valuation of its public space and communal infrastructure. Farmers hired by the municipality take on the responsibility to care for the public spaces in collaboration with the inhabitants of the neighbourhood. The integration of food production benefits self-sufficiency, social cohesion and mobility for humans, as well as biodiversity through the ecological principles of agroecology. Also water management (through habitat creation), alternative food production and spatial quality are improved due to programming, activity and feelings of ownership. The design of the neighbourhood and the overall strategy is based on the hierarchical structure of the original design of Lombardijen garden city. The application of agroecology and the elaboration of the aforementioned model shows the possibilities for the improvement of social and environmental issues through public spaces design.