Nature-inclusive construction was the central topic of the expert session of April 9, 2024, hosted by Utrecht Province. As an expert in this field, Mathias Lehner was invited to deliver the key note. He took the audience through his vision with appealing nature-inclusive design examples, that increase biodiversity in the city.

The event was hosted by Bob Dijkman-Dulkes, manager of the Provincial accelerator program housing. Consecutive speakers were Remo Wormmeester and Martin Heinen of ecogroen, and Amber Holdijk explaining the experiences of Veenendaal Municipality with a nature inclusive system of points for building projects.

The expert session was part of the accelerator program for housing of Utrecht Province.

The N203 is a provincial road of 2 by 2 lanes that runs for more than 10km as a traffic artery through Zaanstad Municipality. What is the future potential of this highway like road? Originally laid out in meadows at the backyard of the villages along the Zaan river the asphalt strip has become a spatial center piece – and barrier.

Upon initiative of and in collaboration with the Babel architecture centre Mathias is coaching students at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. In autumn 2024 a public exhibition will show the students’ works.

Giulia Gualtier, a PhD candidate at Eindhoven University set a Community or Practice (CoP) on nature inclusive design. Mathias was asked to join this CoP, an international network of experts in the field of design, government and research. A great opportunity to exchange experiences and knowledge to propel urban biodiversity, and a great pool to feed Giulia’s research.

How to define growth with quality? What are the criteria, and is there a maximum to growth? An interesting question if you want to add not only housing, but work spaces and social amenities such as parks to a city in order to make it future proof.

As quartermaster city architect Mathias was asked to do some research by design in the form of little finger excercises for a series of locations in Zaanstad municipality. Based upon the no-net-landtake vision upon the built environment until 2040 and beyond (in Dutch: Omgevingsvisie) it was suprising how much growth is possible within a a strong conceptual appproach rooted on integral spatial quality.

In February 2024 a collaboration started between the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, Babel Architecture Centre and Zaanstad Municipality. Students of the Built Environment Studies will analyse and design a future for the N203, a merely 12km long provincial road running through the entire municipality of Zaanstad. Mathias delivered an inspirational lecture on the road and the vision for the built environment of Zaanstad which he has been co-autoring.

How can this high way like road become a connector, a destination and a development area of integral programs along a city alley? The coming months will show the thoughts of the students, which will be exhibited in a Bayeux tapestry style in Zaandam later this year.

In December 2023 the 3rd season of the executive Program for the Knowledge of Space 2024 was finalized. Mathias was again part of the team of colleagues who aim to improve the awareness, competences en strategic knowledge in spatial and urban development for Zaanstad Municipality and her partners by these monthly educational in-house events. The team consists of Marc den Hertog, Yorick Waardenburg, Tijs Rothweiler, Meike Westers, Hilde Bloemers and Lisa Schouten.

In December 2023 Mathias published an article on the website of the Dutch National Association of Landscape Architects NVTL, member of IFLA Europe. The text addressed the advantages of spatial planning based upon the very long term. The main idea of this approach is to look ahead for the very long term of hundred years. Design and policy decisions are subsequently based on that perspective by deducting decisions for today from the expected or desired scenario’s for the future. Within his teaching he learned that this approach gave both trust and empowerment to the students, and resulted in unexpected and innovative design solutions; in his role as strategic advisor for Zaanstad Municipality he had previously commissioned a research with a comparable approach in order to determine if urban development should take place in an area currently used for agriculture.

The article was published on the homepage of the Academy of Architecture Amsterdam within a few days, too.

On October 30 Mathias was invited to present the status quo on the Urban Development Plan for Zaanstad Municipality. Housing Corporation Rochdale was meeting up in a Zaandam Church next to the river to discuss current and future developments in their housing stock and the rapidly growing municipality.

On October 17th, 2023, Mathias will speak at the Real Estate Dialogue in twin cities Reutlingen ‘the metropole in a bioshere area’ & ‘university city’ Tübingen, together 250k+ inhabitants in the innovative South of Germany. The conference on sustainable regional development is organized by Heuer Dialog in partnership with Instone Real Estate.

Mathias’ lecture will focus on the newest insights when it comes to strategies and benefits, but also cost and return of ‘green’ in sustainable urban development and future-proof real estate.

Other speakers include Max Wörner (robot-driven wood company TriqBriq), Hanno Brühl (Stadtwerke Tübingen, who offer energy, public transport, parking and e-mobility), real estate expert Peter Wilke (GER) and mayors and urban planning directors Angela Weiskopf, Thomas Keck amd Cord Soehlke.