It's 2022. A group of about 15 Floriade visitors walk into the new Aeres University of Applied Science Almere, accompanied by a guide. They look with amazement at the light and green surroundings around them. The interior of the eye-catcher, located on the Campus Square and on one of the main access roads to the Floriade, is so rich with green plants that 'outside' and 'inside' merge with each other. They feel it clearly: this building lives and breathes. It breathes tranquility and activity at the same time, it breathes space and it breathes...oxygen.
So this is the 'Green Lung', as this building is also called and for which the visitors have subscribed to this excursion. To get to know the building which, according to reports, is green and sustainable from head to toe. A building where even on the roof trees grow and where everything is focused on circularity.
A visitor immediately asks a practical question: 'How do those plants on the facade actually get water? The guide explains that the building is designed as a circular system. There is an installation for the water supply that uses as much water as possible that is collected in the roof garden', he explains. The responsible use of materials has also been a spearhead in the construction', he continues. There is even a materials passport in which the origin and possible future destination of the materials used in the building is recorded'. In this way the guide gives visitors a glimpse into the safeguarding of circularity in the new building. Many materials are recyclable or biodegradable and many materials are also composed of recycled raw materials', he explains. As an example, he mentions that during the realization of the new building there was good cooperation with the Upcycleperron and with the Green Concrete Plant of Almere. As a result, waste could serve as raw material for the building and for parts of the interior.
The group walks further through the building. There is a lot of daylight and it is pleasantly cool, a pleasant observation on this warm, sultry day. How do they do that, with all that glass all around?', someone in the group asks. The guide tells about the measures to regulate the incidence of light. To begin with he points to the east facade, where the group entered via the main entrance. You can see that the whole facade is covered with plants from bottom to top. They muffle the sunlight in the morning'. He continues: Opposite, on the west side, the facade has horizontal blinds and solar panels that block out the sunlight on the outside and still allow enough daylight in. And if you walk around the building again later, you will see that the top of the building on the south side sticks out far. That gives a nice shadow effect for the underlying floors'. Visitors will hear how the facades save energy and costs for cooling and electric lighting in this way. And all this while the building remains transparent and allows everyone a look from the outside in.
The group walks through the building along a lush green ribbon of vegetation. Up the stairs along floors with names like: 'Bottom', 'Water', 'Air' and 'Life'. They end up on the roof, where they find a roof garden. Vegetables are being cultivated and there are nice seats near a water basin, 'which serves to collect rainwater', reports the guide. There is also a large field with solar panels and a large group of trees has been planted. The solar panels trigger a discussion about energy: 'It's warm and sunny now, but how is the energy supply in the winter going?', asks a visitor. The guide consults his papers: 'Aeres wants this building to function energy-neutral and that has resulted in a whole list of measures'. He points downwards: 'The roof you are standing on is insulated and so are the facades. The solar panels here on the roof and on the facades generate the necessary power. A heat pump also provides the heating for the building. Heat is stored in the ground by means of heat collectors'. The guide goes on to say that Aeres is investigating whether the building can be connected to a 'Smart Thermal Grid', a district-level thermal storage system. In this way, full energy neutrality can be achieved at the heat level.
Visitors walk back through the building, where it has become busier by now. Everywhere they see groups of students and staff working together; laptops, paper and coffee on the table. There are also classrooms where larger groups of students work together with a teacher. The guide says: 'You only have to look around and see that you can work anywhere. Because the rooms are connected to each other in terms of sight, people here quickly seek cooperation with each other. With all those plants the air is fresh, it just feels very pleasant and healthy'. There is still a lot of daylight here', one of the visitors remarks now that the group is deeper into the building. The guide points upwards: 'Here you can clearly see that the floors of the school consist of voids instead of completely closed floors. As a result, the light can get everywhere, even if you get closer to the center of the building'.
Back at the main entrance, the next group is already waiting for a guided tour. Inspired, the visitors say goodbye to the guide. Outside they look again at the imposing, fully covered facade of Aeres University of Applied Science Almere. They now understand why this building is used as a reception building during the Floriade. Growing Green Cities' is the Floriade theme. Yes, this building breathes that theme literally and figuratively... like a 'Green Long'.
The above impression of the atmosphere sketches the new building that Aeres University of Applied Science Almere wants to realize on the Floriade grounds. The development of the Floriade means an enormous stimulus for the college, because the themes of the Floriade are closely linked to its educational and research themes 'Food', 'Nature' and 'Urban Green'.
Since 2010 the university is located in the center of Almere. In recent years bachelor programs have been developed in the fields of biology, food & health, green urban development, geo media & design and sustainable business administration. In the coming years, an education on urban food production will be added to this, as well as two master programs, focused on urban food systems (nutrition and behavior). Under the leadership of professors, Aeres University of Applied Sciences also conducts practice-based research into the relationship between food and healthy living and into the influences of greenery on the health of city dwellers. In addition, an additional research group with a focus on ecology. In addition, a research project with related education is being considered in the area of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Aeres University of Applied Science Almere is growing, against the national trend. The quality of the courses of Aeres University of Applied Science Almere is appreciated, as well as the fact that many activities take place in and around Almere that give students the opportunity for relevant and innovative projects, internships and practical research.
It is of great importance to the University of Applied Sciences that, in line with the planning around the Floriade, efforts have been made to develop the Flevo Campus. This physical location on the Floriade grounds should function as a knowledge hub in the field of "Feeding the City". Aeres has taken the decision to realize the necessary new building on the Flevo Campus for Aeres University of Applied Science Almere. As a result of this step, within a few years the college will be located in an environment where the green, healthy and sustainable city of the future will become visible in a special way. The ideal context for Aeres University of Applied Science Almere.
Floriade quality of the 'Green Lung’
Aeres calls the new educational building 'the Green Lung' and wants to provide an example of healthy, climate-proof, air-purifying and energy-neutral construction. The well-being of people is central.
Aeres is investing heavily in the realization of the new building. Because the building will be built on the Floriade grounds and at the time of the Floriade will also function as an entrance building, special requirements will be set for sustainability, circularity and greenery. A subsidy has been promised from the 'Fonds Verstedelijking Almere' (fund for the urbanisation of Almere) to meet these quality requirements. The final approval for the grant of the subsidy will take place at the end of June 2019, based on a project proposal submitted by Aeres with regard to the use of the subsidy to achieve Floriade quality. Aeres translated the criteria for Floriade quality into a number of concrete matters:
- Sustainable water use
- Energy: energy neutrality
- ‘Green Lung’
- Green roof
- Green facade
- Green interior and health
- Healthy / Fresh schools
- Material / circularity
The result is a design for an energy-efficient building that fits in with its surroundings and contributes to (bio)diversity, greenery, innovations and liveability. The 'living lab' environment of the new building fits in well with the application of knowledge and practice, which are central to education. Innovations take place in the building and its surroundings. Students gather their knowledge here and exchange it with each other and with the environment. Much attention is paid to creating a healthy learning and working environment and responsible use of materials. With the latter theme, many newly developed and recycled materials are considered. Materials such as 'biocomposite', 'bamboo façade panels', 'curtains of plastic waste' and 'jute insulation material' form a small selection from the list. From a sustainability point of view, working with local suppliers is also taken into consideration.
Aeres University of Applied Science Almere chooses to use the Sustainable Development Goals as an important guideline for thinking and acting. This will also be visible in the new building. This creates a consistent interplay of forces, which will certainly deserve the designation 'iconic'.