Philosophy and vision

The Green City
As developments move from simply concrete and asphalt into a more inhabitable Green City, they are constantly closely monitored by landscape gardener Wissing. He has recognised the emergence of a positive move in the world of architects, spatial planners and project developers. “They are picking up on the signals that we will have to handle nature in a different way. You cannot unthinkingly keep on covering the land in concrete and stone. In urban residential districts today, trees are still planted randomly. Without any underlying plan, there is no coherence. Trees should be planted in locations where they can grow unhindered, without their roots being crushed when a road is built or a sewer laid.”

In Nico Wissing’s opinion, we must see ‘The green lung’ returned out our towns. “Stop mucking about with small patches of green. Lock cars away in underground car parks. Lay out extensive parks and plant larger areas. Make marking and driving a secondary function to greenery. And try to bring a more rural environment into every new building project.”

Nico believes that in the future, people will be willing to pay to have nature close at hand. “It has been scientifically proven that people become less stressed and more resistant to illness, and indeed happier, if they live in a green environment. People who live in uninspiring houses are often deeply unhappy. The tenants rarely choose to not live in a green environment, but in the future, nature should be given an integral role when building plans are developed. A green zone surrounding housing must become as self-evident as having shops and roads nearby. It may make housing slightly more expensive, but the homes will also be worth more.”

Friedensreich Hundertwasser
The Austrian natural architect Hundertwasser was a pioneer in calling for the ‘greening’ of cities in the nineteen sixties and seventies. His ideas were ahead of an era that unfortunately he will himself never experience; he passed away in 2000. Nico Wissing continued, “Hundertwasser was in favour of organic shapes for roofs, windows and balconies. His idea, the principle of ‘your window right, your tree duty’ will never be completely achieved, but in the city of the future, Hundertwasser’s ideas will increasingly be present. Balconies will no longer be hung from the front of buildings as shapeless appendages. There will be attractively-designed balconies which can be laid out as garden terraces and so strong that they will even be suitable for growing trees.”

“In the very near future”, Nico Wissing said with real conviction, “greenery in towns will be far more integrated than is currently the case. Water will be more closely involved in urban development and landscape. We desperately need nature to survive in a world that is becoming increasingly polluted and ever harder. Petrified cities are in a terrible state. They drive people to desperate measures. Despite the increasing opportunities for the sector in these ‘green’ towns, greening development should not only focus on the urban environment”

“The decreasing importance of agriculture in rural areas is creating new opportunities in this environment, too. The unforgiving boundaries between nature and agricultural use will gradually disappear. Buildings, residential areas and gardens will be thoroughly embedded in their landscape. In my mind’s eye, I see a natural transition arising, with herbaceous crops that offer a full sensory experience. Corn is not only a source of food. It is also wonderful to walk through.”

Nico Wissing also calls for more usable green space and less ‘useless’ green. “A lawn may be attractive, but in a town you need more than simply a grass field. It is far more attractive to make a combination of the environment, as part of daily life. It is commonplace for the land surrounding business premises to be completely without soul. Through a few simple interventions, that situation can be turned around. The land could for example be broken down into functional green or green playing areas.”

“Nature close to a business can contribute to the general wellbeing of the staff. Lay down some winding paths between wild flowers or a pond area. During their breaks, this enables the staff as it were ‘go out into the country’. These may also be places of contemplation; places to sit quietly without the disturbance of the telephone. Places where people can concentrate on a new idea or design. I would one day like to install a glass cube surrounded by green close to an industrial location, and call it a contemplation or expression cube. The only downside in the Netherlands is the climate.”

Use of materials
Nico also expects attitudes to nature and outdoor living to change, as green becomes more accepted and more appreciated. “If you ask me, it is time we got over this tidiness mania. Nature should be allowed to smell again, and you should be allowed to leave a muddy trail across the kitchen floor. In building, whilst retaining all the modern conveniences, there is a move back to the twenties. Concrete will always still be available for building, but concrete today can be mixed with fibres, coconut or even ground leaves, to make it look far more natural. Excessively artificial? Not at all; just as with automation, it is simply making use of new possibilities.”

Nico Wissing is a man with ideals and he sees his business as a means of realising them. “My ultimate dream is a glass house, square and inserted in space. Glass is the perfect material for bringing the landscape closer. At present, no more than two percent of houses are focused on the garden. Bringing landscape into the home is essential. Breaking free of fixed forms. I hope that one day I will have the opportunity to create just such a spiritual place.”