Possible Landscapes: imminent dreams of nature-inclusive building

A touring exhibition, with DDW 2024 as a start point, and a regenerative pavilion for DDW 2025, where visitors can experience research findings. Such are the ambitions of the Embassy of Circular & Biobased Building (CBB), explained creative lead Lucas De Man, speaking at the Embassy’s conference at Keukenconfessies during DDW in Eindoven.

Type Update
Published on 9 November 2023
Part of Embassy of Circular & Biobased Building
Possible Landscapes: imminent dreams of nature-inclusive building
Part of Embassy of Circular & Biobased Building

Water management and soil improvement are driving the development of regenerative infrastructure and building design, emphasised De Man during the event. “Collaboration with a variety of stakeholders is crucial to the further development of nature-inclusive building with biobased materials,” he said. “This is because you need to have parties from the entire system on board to really make progress.” The conference marked the kick-off of the Embassy’s new two-year programme, Possible Landscapes regenerative city and infra. At the end of the conference, four parties signed on as strategic partners to the Embassy’s new programme. 

“We need to create vision together,” De Man stated at the outset of the conference. “In doing so, we need to move the conversation to another level than just talking about the issues. After all, we are well aware of the issues at this stage. We need to be talking in terms of opportunities.” These opportunities for regenerative construction and infrastructure will be shared by the Embassy of CBB on an ongoing basis, and in a variety of ways, over the next few years. “We are currently working on a comprehensive publication documenting the impact of each of our projects,” De Man revealed. This will make use of a value chain diagram to measure a number of indicators, such as biodiversity and material usage.


De Man expressed the ambition to publish the research online in early 2024. During DDW 2024, the results will take the form of an exhibition that will subsequently go on a tour to other locations. In addition, the Embassy aspires to opening a regenerative pavilion during DDW 2025, where visitors can experience new methods of nature-inclusive building using biobased materials for themselves. “Will we succeed? We’ll have to wait and see,” said De Man. “We are professionally naive: we invariably believe that something is possible and, with this in mind, see how far we can get. So far, all our pavilions have come about through the help and support of others; this much we already know.” 

Four layers

Possible Landscapes’ studies focus on four layers, De Man explained: green and blue roofs, green and blue facades, soil and infrastructure. Pascal Leboucq, in conjunction with De Man creative lead of the Embassy of CBB, gave us a look at a few examples of projects that demonstrate what can be done or is possible. “The sketch we are currently envisioning involves dreams. However, these are imminent dreams that we should actually be able to immediately address. It is essential to be able to properly connect all these opportunities.”

Many of these options offer radically different outcomes and impact than is currently the case. “Particularly in the Netherlands, we have seen that the negative impact on soil life due to construction is enormous. People often build as deep into the ground as they do above it! We want to investigate whether foundations can be developed in which animals can live, which allow water to pass through and purify and are actually soil improvers rather than soil degraders.”

Value chain diagram

During the conference, Pam Hermelink and Iris Bekkers of Biobased Creations explained the value chain diagram used during research. The value chain diagram contains a variety of indicators such as biodiversity, material usage, air and water quality and soil. The purpose of this diagram is to be able to assess how a project is performing based on these indicators. With any project, it is important to look at multiple features and not just focus on one component, such as CO2 emissions, for example.”


All projects examined receive a technical and economic passport, Hermelink said. “And we also highlight development opportunities.” She explained this using the example of Buro Harro’s Duindak (Dune Roof). You’d think you were among the dunes on the roof of the nature-inclusive Natuurmarkt building in the middle of Amsterdam. “In the value chain diagram, you can clearly see that this project scores highly in terms of biodiversity. Many native plants have been put in place, and birds, bees and other insects can also make use of this water-buffering dune roof. At the same time, the value chain diagram shows that there are still a variety of development opportunities, in this case in terms of ​​the use of biobased materials. At the moment, they still have to use lots of concrete and plastic containers for this project. Duindak is looking for parties that can help out with this.”


After presenting the programme, ambitions and the rationale behind the research methods, De Man invited the 100 or so attendees to take part in a brainstorming session covering connections, opportunities, questions and specific ideas. At six tables, small groups discussed the topics of soil, infrastructure, bridges, facades, roofs and the ‘question mark’ category. Different challenges were discussed at each table. At the bridges table, for instance, Marc Postel of Fairm (a Delft-based company that, among other things, develops bio-based construction and insulation materials, such as mycelium composite,) spoke with transition manager Paul Meijer of Rijkswaterstaat (Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management) about the use of Styrofoam in building bridges. “Styrofoam is a very polluting material that is actually only needed for one day during bridge construction,” Postel said. “And yet enormous amounts of it are needed. It would be nice to be able to develop strong biobased material that can replace Styrofoam in this process.”

Discussions and questions

Ideas were also tested and thoughts shared at the other tables. At the soil table, one of the topics discussed was the difference between regulations pertaining to under and above ground. “Underground is often a maze of rules and regulations,” said one participant. 

At the roof table, the potential of green roofs came up for discussion. “You’re talking about 400,000 hectares of green roofs that we could start developing. This represents huge potential. Although green bus shelters send out a political message, they don’t actually have that much impact,” was stated. “The cost of manufacturing all these green roofs are a challenge though.”

At the facade table, ideas were shared about optimum sunlight. And about how this can be used in summer and winter at either warm or cool times of the year. 

And standardisation was discussed at the infrastructure-table. “In fact, what’s already possible should immediately become the norm at a government level. But how do you achieve that?” was one of the questions that came up. “You also have to be careful with it,” said another attendee. After all, standardisation can also restrict you. That’s because what the current norm is will be outdated in a few years.”

Appeal and signing of partnership

The conference also explicitly served as an appeal to potential partners, both in terms of research and the Possible Landscapes regenerative city and infrastructure programme. “Our approach is practical, which is why we’re looking for partners who can contribute, either financially or in other valuable ways,” De Man reiterated at the end. “This can go beyond just money; for example by contributing with designs or materials.” Delegates from four parties that are already on board – Dura Vermeer, TBI Klimaattrein, VP Capital and Dutch Design Foundation – signed a document displaying an outline of the programme. “Practical experience has taught us that it is important to work with parties that really want to participate,” De Man concluded. “And only when you have the courage to leave yourself open and be honest can you create amazing things together.”

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