Anger over renovation of floating gardens in East Amsterdam: “Mutilated in one fell swoop”

They have been there for more than twenty years: the floating gardens in the Eastern Docklands of the artist Robert Jasper Grootveld, who died in 2009. The municipality has hired a company to restore the gardens, but according to artist and raft builder Rob Schrama, Grootveld’s legacy is being ‘destroyed in one fell swoop’ by wrong choices.

It hurts Rob Schrama’s eyes. The rafts on which the gardens in the Entrepothaven float are wrapped with dozens of meters of black mesh. It must hold together the Styrofoam blocks that were once traditionally tied by Grootveld with mesh and fishing nets. “You don’t use a large paint roller to restore a Rembrandt painting. You do that by hand. That is more expensive, but you are actually obliged to do it. Because it is cultural heritage.”

Photo: floating gardens – NH/AT5

Schrama, on behalf of the ‘Float Builders of Amsterdam’, has offered to restore the floating gardens in the spirit of Grootveld. “The municipality of Amsterdam thought that was too expensive. They hired a company to restore everything quickly and cheaply. With polluting products and materials.”

Photo: floating gardens – ‘Float builders of Amsterdam’

According to Schrama, the applied mesh is already coming loose – he has photos to prove it – and the posts and planks used for the restoration are extremely toxic. “All planks that look greenish are impregnated with poison. That is not allowed. And certainly not in the gardens of Robert Jasper Grootveld.

Raft builder Sjarifah Meijerman was an apprentice to Grootveld. “The underwater world is the most important thing. It is being poisoned. And that should not be allowed. I think it is a great shame to do this here. That makes me angry and very sad.”

Photo: floating gardens – NH/AT5

In October last year, Schrama and his fellow raft builders had a conversation with the East district and the company that was awarded the job, Nautilus-eco Solutions. According to Schrama, they explained during that conversation that the current working method does not correspond with Grootveld’s construction principles and will only cause damage.

Schrama has offered his help. “But they just haven’t done anything with it. They just continue on their own way. It is promoted on the municipality’s website as a great piece of cultural heritage, but they simply refuse to restore this cultural heritage as it should be. “

Response from the East district:

‘Currently, three of the five islands owned by the municipality have holes in the net, causing the Styrofoam, which gives the island its buoyancy, to become exposed and crumble. The loose Styrofoam ends up in the water and this is very undesirable for birds, fish and other animal species.

The municipality puts safety and natural value first, which is why it is important to do something immediately about environmental damage. This is now a pressing priority. That is why Nautilus-eco Solutions was chosen. They specialize in sustainable green constructions in and on the water.

The wood is impregnated against fungi, bacteria and wood-eating insects. So that these organisms cannot attack the wood. The impregnation has no harmful effect on other animal species.

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