Expo 2022 Floriade is ready to showcase a greener future today

King Willem Alexander outside the Suriname Pavilion having a selfie picture taken. Photo: Robin Utrecht.

Dutch King and guests witness the importance of ornamental horticulture to help create an urban future with nature at the opening ceremony of Expo 2022 Floriade Amsterdam Almere.

The International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH) attended the opening of Expo 2022 Floriade Almere-Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on 13 April. For the next six months until 9 October, this AIPH Approved World Horticultural Exhibition will demonstrate the theme of Growing Green Cities.

Annemarie Jorritsma-Lebbink, commissioner-general of Floriade Expo 2022 said: “With this edition of Floriade we present themes for the future. Appealing for the current and for the next generation. Where living in green cities will be possible and we will have sustainable solutions for our food production.”

According to Ank Bijleveld-Schouten, mayor of Almere, “Almere is a green city and moreover a city with a young spirit. Not being hindered by ingrained patterns. Which makes it viable, open-minded and full of imagination. And with more than 160 different cultures it is also a very international city. That is why Almere and Floriade make a perfect combination. Floriade Expo 2022 is one big collection of international horticultural innovations. With the theme ‘Growing Green Cities’ it offers solutions to make cities greener, healthier, more sustainable and enjoyable for the young and the old.”

The youth formed a central subject in the opening speeches of the minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV) Henk Staghouwer, the Secretary General of the International Bureau of Expositions (BIE) Dimitri Kerkentzes and in special video messages of Floriade alderman Jan Hoek, deputy Jan-Nico Appelman, chairman of the Dutch Horticulture Council (NTR) Kees van Rooij and the president of the International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH) Bernard Oosterom. At this Expo, it all comes together which makes it a fizzling event with blooming talent.

Food Forum, the Voice of Urban Nature and the Nature Pavilion

In the Food Forum, a pavilion of the Flevoland province, entrepreneurs, students, and researchers collaborate to create new ideas regarding future food production.

In the pavilion ‘The Voice of Urban Nature’, the municipalities of Amsterdam and Almere show visitors how to build a green city of the future, together with their inhabitants.

The Dutch Nature Pavilion. Photo: Robin Utrecht.

The Dutch Nature Pavilion, the pavilion of the national government of the Netherlands, is all about the future of sustainable and circular housing. The pavilion has been constructed using hundreds of bio-based materials.

Suriname Pavilion

Designed by Dynamic Spaces Architects and built by horticultural engineering company Bransen Group, the 500m2 Suriname pavilion is one of Floriade’s eyecatchers because of its different roof heights.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), construction materials are responsible for more than one-third of global resource consumption and approximately 30 per cent of the worldwide energy (The International Source Panel, The weight of cities 2018). With this in mind, all parties involved in the Suriname pavilion committed themselves to a more circular approach to reducing emissions and waste.

However, the reduce-remake-recycle principles and the requirements for a structure’s mechanical resistance, stability, and serviceability do not always go perfectly hand in hand. That’s why Bransen Group opted for a new substructure and recycled up-structure, incorporating used trusses and a greenhouse deck.

Second generation Luc Bransen, who with his brothers Niels and Roy run the Bransen Group, told FCI that Suriname’s home at Floriade serves quintessentially as a country pavilion that highlights the nation’s (Horti)culture, people, climate and cuisine.

Giant LED screens on the outer part of the greenhouse structure will help tell the story of one of South America’s smallest countries.

The shades of Nature Pavilion

This pavilion blends water, wool, sunlight and natural dyes. Colours of the Sun showcases how the sun transforms hand-knitted white woollen miniature sheep inside each 750 preserving jars containing natural dyes.

The pavilion’s back wall provides a stark contrast to the ecologically sound fashion industry. It is built with discarded textiles, showing how overproduction and ‘fast fashion’ frustrate the natural cycle resulting in a waste of raw materials and energy.

Floriade provides Magical moments

Floriade bursts with colours. The Green House, for example, hosts a stunning display of Magical Hydrangea, a line of hassle-free, colour-changing indoor (five varieties) and outdoor (14 varieties) hydrangeas.

The public can stick their heads through a giant hydrangea ball.

Comms manager Sandra Vijverberg-Van der Knaap explains that there is no better place to run an interactive display inside what Floriade says is an ‘experiential glasshouse’.
Members of the public can stick their heads through a giant hydrangea ball. Inside, a tunable LED system demonstrates the impact of colours on their mood and how they perceive the world.

Magical Hydrangea’s installation is a form of clever marketing as it aims to have consumers actively interact with the alternating colour component of the Magical Hydrangea brand.
Members of the Magical family produce masses of blooms that magically change colour at least three or four times a year.

Magical Hydrangeas are grown by a select few growers across Europe. They are produced in the Netherlands by The Mastergrowers and De Jong Plant and in the UK by Wyevale Nurseries in Hereford.


EatThis is a global network of 40 privately owned horticultural companies. It seeks to bridge the increasing rural and urban divide by emphasising the link between hi-tech horticulture and a healthy, sustainable lifestyle.

Last year, the business consortium made the headlines with its tomato growing module on Fifth Avenue in front of New York’s Guggenheim Museum. The installation was part of the museum’s Countryside, The Future, an exhibit presented by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas.

Countryside The Future opened on 20 February 2020 but shut down only three weeks later when New York went into lockdown. But those passing on Fifth Avenue could still peep through the glass window of the growing container. Inside, indoor crops specialist David Litvin controlled daily temperature, humidity and (LED) light levels of the cherry tomato crop grown on the substrate. In an ironic twist of fate, the pandemic clarified how crucial agriculture is in a rapidly urbanising world, particularly when global supply chains are disrupted. That is ‘agtech’, the type of farm-fresh agriculture, pesticide-free and technically advanced, using fewer natural resources.

More or less, the same message is replicated inside EatThis’ Innovation Centre, hosted inside Floriade’s Green House. The consortium hired Stephan Petermann and Marieke van den Heuvel of MANN, a hands-on concept and content developer. They translated EatThis’s story: “Innovative technologies and sustainable production of healthy food go hand in hand, creating a world in which healthy food production is abundant and accessible to all, and good for the planet and its people”- into an interactive and engaging exhibit. This interpretation involves a ‘dismembered’ greenhouse floating above the ground. The idea is to teach visitors how each greenhouse component forms an unmissable link. The hi-tech growing environment has bat-like drones to keep crops pest-free, geothermal energy for fossil-free heating, and PAR+, a newly developed spray coating applied on greenhouse windows to convert harmful UV into diffuse PAR light.

The diffuse light also enters the lower parts of the crop and, as such, improves crop yields. Moreover, PAR+ coating lasts for around eight years, making the seasonal whitewash on the greenhouse no longer necessary. Apart from its ecological message, the EatThis exhibit is meant to lure the in-demand young engineers to a sector which suffers a chronic labour shortage.

A mock-up Growing Space Command Centre, for example, shows how today’s horticulture is using AI and robotics in autonomous greenhouses, enabling growers to oversee more hectares and realise higher yields.

Germany’s Biotopia

The interactive Biotopia

Germany’s country pavilion – aka Biotopia – is arguably the Floriade’s most interactive and dynamic exhibit. It combines contemporary horticulture with a resource-sensitive, two-storey wooden pavilion.

When cutting the ribbon during the opening of the German Garden, the Commissioner-General of the German participation, Mr Karl Wessels PhD of the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL), said: “In terms of climate change, Floriade gives an important impulse to sustainability, greening and with that, liveable cities.”

The showcase is built around four sub-themes: ‘Green’, ‘Food’, ‘Health’ and ‘Energy’, enabling children and their parents to discover future issues through play. Upon entering the German Garden, visitors are given a smart bracelet with which they can activate components of the exhibition and collect icons as a reward. Visitors can lend a hand by watering water plant models installed in the ceiling using a pulley or activating energy wheels by pedalling a bike.

In an interactive water feature garden with a pump, a water cycle can be set in motion, water wheels can be activated, and visitors can put spillways (for overflow) underwater.
Visitors can join others in trying to find stability on the Balance Board. That way, there’s an equilibrium between the renewable energy sources for an environmentally friendly supply to the city of the future.

The theme room ‘Local Food’ revolves around innovative strategies for sustainable food production and conscious food consumption. And a connection is made between sustainable agriculture and alternative methods of growing in the city. Two periscopes help to demonstrate this. Visitors take a virtual trip from the traditional food production in rural areas to the future of food production in the cities. German restaurant EATTOPIA serves vegan, vegetarian and traditional German dishes and drinks.

The Clubhouse of the Dutch greenhouse industry

Spanning more than one hectare and a length of 170 metres, the Green House is the Expo’s largest exhibit. The structure’s design is striking, inspired by the Crystal Palace, built in London in 1851.

Floriade CEO Hans Bakker, Floriade’s Secretary General Annemarie-Jorritsma and Kees van Rooij, President of the Dutch Horticulture Council, joined forces in the opening ceremony of the Green House.

The Green House incorporates different glass and mirrors, creating surprising and remarkable lighting effects.

It has 10,000m2 floor space and a 170 metres long boardwalk offering views overlooking gerberas in all colours of the rainbow, tasty strawberries and bell peppers and amazing anthuriums.

The ‘Clubhouse of the Dutch greenhouse industry’ offers an eclectic mix of B2B and B2C, a place where the industry comes together for congresses and events.
The venue equally increases knowledge and closes the gap between producers and end consumers on sustainable practices, innovative greenhouse technology and outcomes.
The Green House will feature 13 alternating flower and plant shows during Floriade’s six month period.

Growers of flowers and plants exhibit their best products and have them reviewed by a professional panel of expert judges and public vote.

On 14 April, Floriade CEO Hans Bakker, Floriade’s Secretary General Annemarie-Jorritsma and Kees van Rooij, President of the Dutch Horticulture Council, joined forces in the opening ceremony of the Green House, whose terrace-shaped layout forms a playful backdrop.


Beehold.artwork by Dutch artist, Florentijn Hofman.

Standing 12 metres tall is the ‘Beehold’ artwork by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, who inspired the busy bee world. Bees are under threat worldwide: species are disappearing, and numbers are decreasing, whilst 80 per cent of the plants we consume depend on bees for pollination. The artist designed ‘Beehold’ in keeping with a centuries-old tradition of bee bearding, as it consists of two figures entirely enveloped by bees. The work of art is made of COR-TEN steel and consists of tens of thousands of bees and a single queen.

The artwork refers to ‘beholding’ and ‘holding’ as humanity should save the bees for the future. The work is about the relationship between bees and humankind, about connection. It’s about equilibrium and a respectful relationship between humans and animals and our complex interrelationship with nature. This impressive artwork will be one of the Floriade’s legacies as it will permanently stay in Almere’s future Hortus residential area.

Tree art

The Van Gogh Theme.

Playing on the Van Gogh motif is the show garden of Treeport, a cooperative of 115 tree growers from West Brabant and Northern Kempen striving for a healthy and balanced tree nursery industry. The aim is to put Zundert on the map as one of Europe’s epicentres of tree production.

The Van Gogh theme is no coincidence as the famed painter was born in Zundert on 30 March 1853.

Green City Arboretum

Famed landscape designer Niek Roozen from the Netherlands put his signature upon a bold planting scheme with the Green City Arboretum as a shining example of the city’s green development.

Wild at Heart garden.

Floriade’s botanical collection will contain 750 tree genera, 90,000 shrubs and 200,000 perennials planted in alphabetical order.

This article first appeared in the May 2022 FloraCulture International.

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