For lovers of horticulture, Floriade is the place to be. This once-a-decade international flower show opens in a different Dutch city each time, breathing life into new districts with each iteration. This year, Venlo designates 40 hectares to stunning displays of rose bushes and perennials for the enjoyment of crowds that will top two million. Although the exhibition packs up at the end of the summer, it will result in environmentally friendly permanent architecture that will live on once Floriade draws to a close.
The most impressive of these is Innovatoren, a 70-metre-tall domino-shaped building with an undulating glass apron, designed by Jo Coenen, the former chief government architect for the Netherlands. Rising above the North Limburg landscape, this icon is the entrance to the World Horticultural Expo grounds; the floors above house 12 storeys of administrative offices and conference rooms. After the expo, when the area is converted into the business district of Venlo Greenpark, this tower will be turned over to private offices.
Another bold architectural feat, the massive greenhouse Villa Flora houses the daily-updated flower exhibition – the largest display of flowers in Europe. Designed by Dutch architect Jón Kristinsson, the Cradle-to-Cradle glass building creates an atmosphere that’s sustainable and pleasant for both plants and humans, despite their different needs – all without visible ducts, bulkheads or dropped ceilings. Like Innovatoren, the 10,550-square-metre Villa Flora will be transformed into an office building. It features a removable, reuseable concrete skeleton that supports a sloping roof, which allows for the harvesting and re-use of rainwater within the building.
In addition to these permanent structures, pavilions and installations from the roughly 100 international exhibitors are spread throughout the park. The future plans for the site inform the use of recyclable materials, water use, and composting. Though Floriade lasts only one season, the district will set the standard for eco-friendly business parks for years to come.
Floriade is open daily until October 7th, 2012.