In talks with Robert van Aerts, NextGen Living Walls Founder and Managing Director

Robert van Aerts will be speaking at the Urban Design & Landscaping Expo this November. He is the Founder and Managing Director of NextGen Living Walls and will be on the panel discussion of "Integration of Sustainability Principles in Urban Design" at the Urban Design & Landscaping Summit.  

What is your take on Green Urbanism and its future in the Middle East?

My background is mostly based on indoor situations and how indoor landscaping has grown in businesses and public building nowadays. There’s a significant difference in approach and in my opinion it will develop even further and further. The fact that cities will house over 75% of the world population and people need green appearance in order to achieve a better balance in life and performance, the green business overall is just at the beginning of a new era in landscaping. The Middle East and its rapidly growing cities, business and new industry developments will need to invest in green as an asset for keeping workers satisfied and inviting new creative and capable workers who will add value to the future of the Middle East.

What is a polycentric approach and how do you plan to apply it to the existing cities?

What I can see and believe is that there’s a significant renovation in cities that has taken place. Which means older and less useable industry buildings are being rewarded for housing and small business to get the cities more vibrant. And make it more possible for youngsters to find affordable housing in the city, but in a different way. Vertical green gardens, green roofs, herbs gardens and joint gardening for vegetables with residents is way more common right now. A perfect example is the Dutch Design for the Solar Decathlon Dubai November 2018 to be held at the Solar Park. Just during the Urban Design & Landscaping Show. The design of the Dutch University contains a building with a large vertical green wall that connect all levels with the idea to connect the resident without being invisible but recognized and appreciated. Seating areas complete their design including smart apartments based on solar energy and all new techniques to achieve an ideal place to live and to work.

What are the challenges posed by an arid and very hot environment like the one of the UAE with regards to landscaping?

That’s a challenge for sure. This is a subject that growers of plants need to focus on and I’m sure there are techniques available or possible in order for plants to stay longer in a good condition by keeping water longer where it should be without too much evaporation. For indoor situations, it’s less a problem as our current vertical green system uses water only one every month.

What are the major opportunities you spot in the GCC/UAE landscaping sector?

There’s a huge development of building and infrastructure in the UAE which is really extraordinary. The question is how can we keep all these new developments interesting enough for people to work in or to spend their earnings for the long term? There’s a basis need for everybody for a “green” feeling and need to survive. This desire is in the human DNA and the UAE landscaping with all their knowledge and options should be able to fullfil these basic needs.

What will be the key take away by the audience attending your talk?

Feel the passion, importance and need for green in total and help the environment building greener not just with techniques but most of all with real live plants!

 About Robert van Aerts -

With over 30 years’ experience in the landscaping business. Established an indoor landscape company in the Netherlands for 22 years and achieved a Top 5 ranking in sales.

Initiator and Chairman of the Dutch Interior Landscape Organization from 2002 till 2007. One of the founders and first Chairman of the European Interior Landscape Organization called EILO.  Previously, member of the board of the National Canadian Landscape Organization “Landscape Ontario”. Member of the German Landscaper Organization “Fachverband für Raumbegrünung und Hydrokultur”.

Guest speaker at several seminars all over the world such as Canada Blooms Toronto and Floriade Holland with the goal to connect all people involved in the industry and establishing a higher level in design, knowledge and cooperation.

As of 2014 involved as founder and Managing Director of Nature’s Green Europe-Middle East and NextGen Living Walls. Nature’s Green designs, manufactures and distributes plant containers, NextGen Living Walls and BioMontage products to the professional industry in Europe and the Middle East. www.nextgenlivingwalls.com and www.naturesgreen.nl

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