Planning around the broader development of the Nieuwe Mark (rebuilding the river Mark) went on for many years. Experts and citizens participated in early stages of planning and many ideas came up. The application for the UIA project GreenQuays, which is part of this broader development, has spurred the discussion by thinking even more innovative. What if ...?
One of these questions was: What if we would stop cleaning quay walls? Would some vegetation develop spontaneously? Which plants could cope with the conditions and what about animal life? Hence, the team around Roel Klei, projectleader Ruimtelijk Economisch Domein (Spatial Economy) in Breda convinced the maintenance department to stop cleaning a section of an existing quay wall to explore what would happen. Not completely unexpected, maintenance staff was first not in favour of this approach. It would go against usual practice and they raised concerns about the long-term stability of the quays. Nevertheless, stopping maintenance in a small section was agreed. Indeed, nature took over quickly by itself. Smaller and bigger plants and mosses have started to invade the walls, which are nice to look at and provide also breeding space for animals above and below water. In the end, also the maintenance staff went along with the trial as there were no issues with the stability detected so far and less work to do. This test, starting prior to the GreenQuays project, provides the design team with further inspiration on bringing in not just green solutions but truly nature. The real-life experience is also extremely helpful as a tangible show case for sceptic stakeholders. Additional inspiration for the design has been taken from studying quays in other cities, e.g. in Rotterdam.