Every day I take advantage of the many green spaces Amsterdam has to offer, on a variety of scales. I start on my own balcony with a little of urban gardening tending- pruning the tomatoes, checking on the courgettes, tasting some dill or cutting some thyme for a recipe. Next I run down tree lined streets and the green swath of grassy tramline to the park, where I do my laps with the other joggers. On the way home I walk through the communal “intratuin” that is at the base of the three apartment blocks in which I live- we all manage that space and it is a total pleasure to check on the progress of plants we are experimenting with for their beauty and scents…

I was thinking today about these greenspaces and how they relate to the difficult questions of energy, water, and food that are at the heart of my concern with the future of landscape architecture today.

We need to apply different criteria of functionality to our green spaces, in order to truly materialize their potential as resources on many levels. The biological capital inherent in these urban biotopes are like engines we can use for many purposes: cleaning air, cleaning water, processing organic wastes into soil, making food, making medecine, strengthening biodiversity and providing homes for other species that have their own roles to fill in our urban landscapes- birds, bats, honeybees, etc.

This is no longer wishful thinking or utopic daydreaming. It is something we can do and should do through better design thinking in order to make the most of what we have.

So I am developing my own agenda for landscape architecture that dwells on making the principles from which to begin this enlarged conception of functionality and green space. An ecological urban agenda that doesn’t ignore rigorous design or aesthetics- because beauty and cultural history are part of the sustainability story too.