is a network of designers, artists and scientists who employ novel design methods and innovative fabrication techniques to explore and manipulate biological material.

Sportplaza Mercator by venhoevenCS


Camouflaged Fortress

Sportplaza Mercator is designed as an overgrown, camouflaged fortress next to the entrance of the city of Amsterdam. Both roof and elevations are covered with fifty different species of plants, varying from Lady’s mantle to trees such as willow and birch. Over the years this will develop into a wild and lush vegetation. The appearance of the building will alter over the time and with every season. Like a ray it will be hardly visible from above and become an integral part of the environment. Seen from ground level however, it reveals an exciting underworld with baths, gymnasiums, dance spaces and cafeteria.


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Green Facade

Growing plants on more or less vertical elevations is complicated. Especially for this purpose, the landscape architects Copijn Utrecht developed the ‘Wonderwall’ system. The Wonderwall is an additional cladding upon a waterproof elevation. The support structure of this second skin is made of steel beams that are connected to the building at foundation and roof level. The connection is made with specially designed synthetic fibre blocks to prevent thermal bridges. On this support structure, corrugated sheet metal supports the prefabricated panels of the Wonderwall system. The system itself is made of synthetic fibre panels consisting of three different layers of ultraviolet proof textile and foil. The inner layer is growth-suppressing, the middle layer contains moisture and the outer layer incorporates slits for the plants. The different layers are connected with the help of staples. A balanced irrigation and feeding system is added after mounting the various panels. In this infrastructural system, plants are inserted on site.


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The Dutch climate, the vertical position of the Wonderwall and the orientation of the differing parts of the building with their varying exposure to sun and wind, create very specific biospheres for the numerous plants. In order to guarantee a lush vegetation on all elevations under diverse circumstances, a specific assortment of plants was chosen for each orientation. These plants were carefully arranged in grouped patterns to create a wild and varied camouflage.


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The wall incorporates a growing layer consisting of a metal sub-structure, plastic membrane and a felt fleece with small pockets for plant growth. Integrated in the growing wall are systems and sensors for rain dispersal and nutrition. Over 50 different types of plants, bushes and trees have been planted in the roofs and facades of the Sportplaza.

VenhoevenCS_Sportplaza section detail


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